12 Top Workout Motivation Tips

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Sometimes, you need a bit more motivation to reach the body you’ve always wanted.

There are some days you can’t bring yourself to look at your workout shoes and gym clothes when the alarm goes off. You just want to hit “snooze” and sleep all day.

Workout motivation is different for each individual, so it’s important to find what gives you the extra push to follow through on your goals. Take a look at these 12 tips to keep yourself motivated and achieve your fitness goals.

Some of them are science-based, while others are common sense. You can try them out and stick with the ones that work best for you.

1. Get Dressed for a Successful Workout

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Even if you don’t want to work out, get dressed like you are going to the gym or are about to go on a run. Putting on your training shoes and athletic clothing sends a message that it’s time to work out.

The message isn’t subtle. By the time you’re finished and ready to leave the house, you can overcome the motivation barrier.

“Fake it ’til you Make it” category.

2. Get an Early Start

You might have heard that people who work out first thing in the morning achieve more of their exercise goals. Science has shown that some people are morning people. However, whether you’re a morning person or not doesn’t really matter in this case. People naturally lose motivation over the course of the day.

According to sports psychologist Christopher Friesen, people who put off working out until a later time in the day run the risk of running out of intrinsic motivation, therefore leaving you with either a worse workout or no workout at all.

3. Use S.M.A.R.T. Goals For Your Workouts

Do you have ultra-basic goals for your workouts like “losing weight” or “getting fit?” This type of goal isn’t bad to have in mind, but it doesn’t quite fit the S.M.A.R.T. framework that will help you get to these big, overall targets.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and fit into a specific Time-frame. Short-term goals fitting the S.M.A.R.T. model could be going down one belt notch in three weeks or reducing your resting heart rate by five beats a minute within four weeks.

4. Change Up Your Workouts

Doing the same workout routine every day is one of the most common exercise errors. Not only does the same daily workout get boring, but it also leads to rapid plateauing and frustration.

Don’t stick only to the gym. Get outside a day or two a week for a run, swim, or cycling session. Vary workouts while at the gym.

5. Build a Real Reward Into Your Workout

Choose something that you enjoy, and incorporate it into the time you spend working out.

If you listen to music or other audio while exercising, pick a new streaming music channel you want to check out, and only listen to it while you’re working out.

If you listen to podcasts or audiobooks, use the same methods. This way, you’ll tie your interests with exercising and increase your motivation.

6. Get Your Money’s Worth

Some people are money motivated. If you’ve signed up for a great gym with a hefty price tag, tell yourself that every time you go, you’re reducing the per-visit cost and getting your money’s worth.

The same is true of investing in a personal trainer. Not only will the trainer help your motivation, you will also want to get your money’s worth from the training sessions.

You can also pay yourself a dollar or two every time you work out. Put the money in a jar and spend it on something great after a month or two.

7. Know Your Motivational Personality Type

A lot of motivational tips for fitness are geared toward “positive thinking” personalities. Inspirational images and ideas of “being the fittest” or “being the best you can be” work for a lot of people.

What if you’re not that type of person?

If you tend to see the downside of things, you can turn this to your advantage. Fitness experts advise people who have “glass half-empty” personalities to remind themselves of all the bad things that could happen if they don’t work out.

Maybe you don’t want your arms to flap around like your third-grade teacher, or maybe you want to avoid a huge belly. Choose the motivation style that works for your personality — don’t force a positive attitude if that simply isn’t who you are.

8. Take a Break When You Need It

If you’re losing motivation, your body could be sending a subconscious message. Fitness experts say that a motivation dip can signal overtraining issues.

Solve the problem by taking a break from your workout routine. Keep moving, but try a slower pace and alternate activities.

Give yourself permission to exercise differently for a specific period, and once the break is over, return to your exercise program.

9. Try Caffeine Before a Workout

The International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism conducted a study of athletes and caffeine use. The athletes who consumed caffeine in some form before a workout burned about 15% more calories for three hours after they worked out.

Caffeine doesn’t have to be coffee. You can get sufficient caffeine from matcha, which is powdered green tea.

You could try a matcha green tea latte made with almond milk. Matcha has more nutrition than other types of tea and also has antioxidants.

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10. Stick With Positive People and Build a Tribe

Isolation causes a lot of problems, and one of them is providing you with a lower motivation to achieve fitness goals. People are social, and spending time with positive people at the gym can help you stick with your program even if you’re feeling rough, tired, and unmotivated.

Sometimes, a workout buddy is all that is needed. Becoming part of a larger fitness “tribe” can help every member achieve their fitness and health goals.

11. Sign a Fitness Contract

Write down your fitness goals and program and turn it into a contract. Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, Stanford professor of medicine, says that approaching fitness goals by signing a contract can be effective.

He recommends making a contract to do a specific amount of exercise every week for a specific number of weeks. If you fail, you have to pay a friend or family member money.

If you don’t pay, you’ll be embarrassed because your friends and family will know you didn’t live up to the contract.

12. Create a “Habit Loop” With Tangible Rewards

Extrinsic or external short-term rewards help reinforce intrinsic or internal habits and attitudes. Exercise scientists say that we can form a “habit loop” by tying a positive short-term reward to exercise routines.

Every time you work out, you can give yourself a small but real reward. After a few repetitions, the cycle of doing the workout and subsequently getting the reward will establish a regular “habit loop.”

Some post-workout rewards include:

  • Watching an episode of a favorite show
  • Having a glass of wine
  • Going to a movie
  • Going on a date with your partner

Whichever of these tips you choose, keep in mind your individual personality and fitness goals. There is no “one size fits all” approach to being motivated for a regular schedule of physical activity. Whether you are money-motivated or respond more to positive or negative motivational triggers, give yourself time and try different approaches. You will find the right combination of intrinsic and extrinsic techniques to achieve your fitness goals.

What workout motivation tip helped you out the most? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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