Creating Workout Habits – Introduction
How do you build a workout habit that few, if any, obstacles can hold you back?
Fitness experts often disagree about which workout is best.
Some are dyed-in-the-wool fans of strength training, while others advocate cardio.
CrossFit has a legion of supporters, as do yoga and Pilates.
And while all of these workouts are different, the truth is they all work.
However, the caveat is that you must do them regularly.
The occasional workout won’t help you build muscle, get fit, or lose weight.
You need to make exercise part of your daily routine.
Not for a week or a month, but forever.
This requires motivation, dedication, and willpower.
Some people have no problem maintaining their exercise habits.
In contrast, others are much more sporadic, skipping more workouts than they complete.
Needless to say, the more workouts you miss, the less effective your training will be.
Use the tips and strategies in this article to create an unstoppable exercise habit and make missed workouts a thing of the past.
Tips for Building an Unstoppable Workout Habit
Use these tips to go from being a sporadic exerciser to making fitness part of your lifestyle!
#1. Start small and easy
One of the most effective ways to make exercise more habitual is to start small and easy.
A long, intense workout might be more social media-worthy, but it’s pretty useless if you do it once and never repeat it.
Small, easy workouts remove many of the barriers to participation, such as lack of time or low energy.
The more excuse-proof you make your workouts, the more likely you are to do them.
So, forget big workouts for now and do something more manageable, such as walking 5,000 steps, doing a few sets of push-ups and squats, or just spending ten minutes stretching.
Do these things every day to get used to exercising regularly.
As this new habit takes hold, you can gradually do more.
#2. Choose things you enjoy
Habits are often things we enjoy doing – that’s what makes bad habits so hard to break!
Apply this same mindset to exercise, and choose something you actually like.
There are lots of different workouts to try, ranging from lifting weights to swimming to running to rock climbing.
So while it may take some trial and error, you should eventually find a type of training you can fall in love with.
When you enjoy something, you’ll look forward to doing it.
NOT hating your workout routine is one of the biggest steps you can take to become a habitual exerciser.
#3. Schedule your workouts
Humans are, as a rule, pretty good at keeping appointments.
Yes, we’re sometimes late and might miss one occasionally.
But, most of the time, we’re where we’re supposed to be at the allotted time.
So, why not apply this same methodology to exercise?
“I’ll work out later” is an approach almost guaranteed to fail, as is “I’ll work out tomorrow.”
Instead, plan your workouts in advance, and mark them in your diary.
Try to exercise at the same time each day to reinforce your exercise habit.
For example, you could set aside an hour in the morning, 30 minutes at lunchtime, or an hour in the early evening.
The when doesn’t matter, so long as it works for you and you can stick to it.
Once you’ve set your schedule, guard those times and avoid double-booking yourself.
If someone asks you if you are free, you should reply that you’ve already got something planned and can’t change your arrangements.
Treat your workouts like unbreakable appointments, just like going to the doctor or the dentist.
#4. Set goals and work toward achieving them
A lot of exercisers work out with very little direction.
They don’t really know why they’re exercising other than they’re supposed to.
When asked, these people often say they’re working out to lose weight, get fit, or feel healthier, but these are vague, unquantifiable terms.
This lack of clear purpose won’t do much for your motivation, and motivation is critical for building a lasting exercise habit.
So, set goals for your workouts, so you know why you are going them.
A goal is something you want to achieve, and the best fitness goals are specific.
For example, instead of exercising to lose weight, exercise to lose 20 pounds and keep it off.
Rather than work out to get fit, train to run a local 5k in six months.
You’ll never hit a target you don’t aim at.
So, give your workouts direction by setting a goal, so you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
And what do you do when you reach your goal?
Set another one, of course!
#5. Under promise but over deliver
Many people plan intense exercise programs and say they’re going to exercise every day, but after less than a week are unable to maintain their schedule and then feel like they’ve failed.
This creates a very negative mindset and makes it hard to develop an exercise habit.
So, instead of shooting for the moon and missing, aim lower at a target you know you can hit.
For example, instead of trying to exercise for an hour every day, commit to doing 40 minutes four times a week.
This will be much more manageable.
Of course, you can do more if you feel like it, but you don’t have to.
Just make sure you reach the minimum level you’ve set for yourself.
Gradually increase workout duration and frequency until you begin to encounter resistance and reach your sustainable limit for regular exercise.
Dial things back a little from that point, knowing that you should be able to maintain those levels for the foreseeable future.
#5. Work out at home
Arguably the most significant barrier to consistent workouts is lack of time.
People are busy, and exercise is usually the first casualty when time is short.
The thing is, fitness doesn’t have to be time-consuming.
Often, it’s getting to and from the gym that takes the most time.
Make your workouts more time-efficient by training at home.
That way, a 20-minute workout will only take 20 minutes, not two hours by the time you’ve traveled to and from the gym.
You can work out with simple bodyweight or resistance band exercises, buy a home exercise bike or treadmill, or build a more elaborate home gym.
The type of workout is not that important so long as you do it regularly and it’s appropriate to your goals.
#6. Embrace the mini-workout method
Many fitness experts say you must work out for at least 30-60 minutes to get good results.
Personal trainers charge by the hour and most group workout classes last an hour, too, which reinforces this notion.
The thing is, there is no research to back these claims, and shorter workouts can be very effective, too.
Providing you accumulate enough exercise minutes; it doesn’t matter if you do them on one go or spread them throughout the day.
So, if you can’t commit to a 30-minute workout, how about three ten-minute mini-workouts?
You could do three sets of push-ups before breakfast, three sets of lunges at lunchtime, and three sets of pull-ups after dinner.
These bite-sized workouts are much more excuse-proof than longer workouts but can be just as effective.
Toss in some brisk walking, and you’ve done all you need to do to build strength and aerobic fitness without a single formal workout.
#7. Use systems to remove workout roadblocks
Life has a way of derailing even the best-laid plans.
However, you can use systems to help keep your plans on track.
A system is a series of pre-emptive steps designed to help things go more smoothly.
For example, imagine you have planned to go to the gym before work.
These are some of the systems you can use to make this happen:
- Pack your bag the night before
- Lay out your workout clothes before going to bed
- Place your alarm clock out of reach so you have to get up to switch it off
- Set the timer on the coffee machine so it’s ready when you wake up
- Get up, get dressed, and go – don’t stop!
Look for ways to remove the roadblocks that could stop you from working out.
Using systems means you don’t have to devise new ways to overcome these barriers or rely on your motivation.
The easier you make the process, the easier it will be to stick to your workouts.
#8. Don’t go it alone
While some people prefer their workouts to be solitary affairs, others do better when exercising with friends or family members.
Arranging to meet someone for a workout is an excellent way to reinforce your commitment.
If you don’t turn up, you’ll be letting them down as well as yourself.
However, this only works if both parties are reliable and share similar workout goals.
If your training partner keeps letting you down or vice versa, they could be more of a hindrance than a help.
How to Build a Workout Habit – Wrapping Up
Most fitness information focuses on what to do during your workout.
However, that information is all but useless if you don’t actually put it into practice.
Even the best training plan won’t work if you don’t do it regularly.
Developing an unstoppable workout habit takes time, and you’ll probably experience a few slip-ups along the way.
But, if you use the strategies in this article, you CAN become a habitual exerciser, and working out will become part of your routine.
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