Motivate Yourself to Work Out

Have you ever sat on the couch convincing yourself to get up and go to the gym? It can go on for hours on end, and then by the time you're almost motivated enough, you've probably frittered away enough time that you've got things to do. Then the guilt sets in. Then the cycle continues. But clicking on this article already means that you're willing to work out! You can do it.


Motivating Your Thoughts

  1. Find your reason. Find your why. Everybody has one. What's yours? Are you trying to be sexy or healthy? Do you want to see your grandkids through their 20s? Do you want to fit into those jeans you wore 5 years ago? Do you have a crush on that babe at work? What is it? Isolate it. Focus on it.
    • You know how it goes -- "out of sight, out of mind." So if you keep this reason on the forefront of your conscious (that is, you're thinking about it all the time) you won't be able to ignore the logic behind working out. It'll be the simplest solution to getting what you want. Humans are pretty good at doing what they want -- so lining these two things up (the motivation and the action) will become easy as pie.
  2. Talk yourself into it. You're probably telling yourself something like "I should exercise right now. If I don't work out, I'm never going to get fit." This statement has many hidden obstacles. For one thing, feeling like you should do something makes it seem like work, or an obligation. That's no fun! You're also thinking about what will happen if you don't exercise -- in other words, you're threatening yourself with punishment (the image of being unfit). Subconsciously, you're flooding your mind with negativity. Instead of thinking about how you'll look if you don't work out, think about how great you'd look if you did!
    • It's very important to think in the positive. Instead of, "God, I feel terrible for not working out," think "I'd feel better if I worked out -- so tomorrow I will." If you think in "nots" and "nevers" and "didn'ts," you're just bogging yourself down, making it even harder to get motivated!
  3. Set a goal for yourself. This can be at any point -- it doesn't have to be your end goal! If you want to work out twice a week, have a goal of two times a week -- simple. Then you can reward yourself after! If you want to run {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} a week, have that be your goal. Smaller goals (rather than losing 50 pounds, say) bring the light at the end of the tunnel a bit nearer, making it more achievable.
    • Sign up for a charity walk or run that will encourage you to train. Once you have a set date to work towards, you'll have a goal in mind while you're working out. The feeling of accomplishment after you're done will encourage you to sign up for another or to just continue being fit.
  4. Set up rewards. What's the point in having goals if nothing is going to come from it? You gotta reward yourself! And again -- the rewards don't have to be dangled in front of you until the very end (that's just cruel); give yourself teeny rewards from time to time for sticking with it.
    • Make a reward for every session, every week, every pound, or every task you do/exercise/lose/complete -- whichever speaks to you. This is all about training your brain. When you see the good stuff behind all the work, it'll give you the strength to keep going and to stick with it.
    • The other side of the coin is to make the alternatives worse. Tell yourself if you don't work out, you have to organize the attic, or call that cousin you haven't spoken to since that awkward family reunion. Now that's one threatening motivation.
  5. Don't be so hard on yourself. You're not lazy -- this stuff is just hard. A person that runs {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} a day doesn't get that the energy they exert is a lot less than the energy someone uses that hasn't worked out in years. So don't label yourself -- you're just starting out, that's all.
    • When you stumble and fall, you have to understand that that's normal. It happens to everyone. It's unimportant that you have a setback -- it's only important that you get back up. These tiny failures will happen (you'll miss a day, you'll get sick, whatever), so when they do, relax. You'll get back at it. Keep your chin up.
  6. Hypnotize yourself. Hypnosis is a state of intense concentration, when your mind is extremely receptive. The "Best Me Technique" is a form of hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, which encourages you to pre-experience the accomplishment of a goal. See the video below for more insights as to how self-hypnosis can help you get motivated to exercise.
    • This will only really be effective if you believe it'll be effective. If you're a skeptic, don't waste your time. Stick to more concrete endeavors.

Motivating Your Behavior

  1. Eat healthy. If you wanted an article on dieting, you would've pulled up an article on dieting. But the fact of the matter is that everything is intrinsically connected. If you eat healthily, you'll feel healthier. When you feel healthier, guess what? You'll feel more like working out.
    • In addition to eating healthily, eat breakfast! Not only will it energize you for the entire day, but it'll help you maintain a healthy weight and stay strong.[1] Oh, and chug the water, too!
  2. Buy new gear. Spending money and having nothing to show for it is a pretty crappy feeling. So when you spend triple digits on shoes, pants, and other gear, you gotta use it. So go out and buy a new workout outfit! Part of you will be chomping at the bit to go slink it around the gym.
    • However, this won't work if you leave it in a bag in your car or bury it at the back of your closet. When you buy that outfit, leave it out. Place it on your dresser, on your bed -- heck, on the kitchen counter -- to torment you until you wear it. Once again, the whole "out of sight, out of mind" thing is what you're working on here. Constant reminders will keep you on the right track!
  3. Avoid Passive Activities (Fitness). For instance, make an effort to go to the gym each time you would instead of watching a TV show you don't really like after one you do like. You'll feel motivated to exercise each time the old, deprecated activity comes up in your mind, and not short on time due to the new exercise habit.
    • How often do we get lazy and do things that we're not particularly engaged in? All. The. Time. Everyone does. So next time you find yourself channel surfing, take it as a cue. You don't have to go to the gym, but get up and go for a walk. Clean the dishes. Organize the garage. Just do something else. You'll feel better (and more productive) after!
  4. Get halfway there. If you want to go to the gym, but just don't feel like it, just drive yourself to gym. Tell yourself that if you still don't feel like working out, you'll go home. Odds are, though, once you're there, you won't feel like driving home. Then tell yourself you'll just walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes, even if your exercise routine involves much more. Just telling yourself to do one more thing, without having to commit to anything else, will make things much easier. And before long, your endorphins will take over.
    • If your form of exercise involves going outside, a good first step is to get dressed and just sit outside. A good next step is to walk. You'll find that once you're dressed to go and walking, exercise doesn't seem like such a big stretch.
  5. Make yourself accountable. Even though we're our own worst critics, we also are our own worst enablers. We'll set our minds to one thing on Monday and by Tuesday morning we're onto something else. That's why we've gotta have others holding us accountable, too. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers of your plan -- knowing the questions are coming will surely be motivation to get on it!
    • Keep a journal. So you've told everyone and their brother about your workout plan -- wonderful! Now it's time to record your progress. You'll want concrete numbers (and you'll want to remember them) to report to yourself and to the world around you. This journal could be on paper, on your computer, or even a blog on the Internet the world can chime in on.
  6. Read magazines, blogs, and success stories. Though you might think you'd turn green with envy, you'd be surprised -- reading up on the topic at hand may be just the motivation you need. It keeps your mind on working out and shows you just how doable it is. What's more, you'll learn from what you read, resulting in you being more knowledgeable and resourceful.
    • Reading others' success stories, apart from being heartwarming, will make you think, "Well, heck, if she can do it, so can I." And that's exactly how it works -- you see these normal people (just like the rest of us) who took on these marvelous feats and came out ahead. You're next!
  7. Turn everything off. In today's world, you feel naked when you disconnect from technology. How often are you more than {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} away from your phone? Maybe when you shower, maybe? So turn it off. Turn it all off. What's there left to do? Go for a workout.
    • That includes the TV, your phone, the computer, the whole gamut of technology. When the time rolls around to work out and you're not feeling it, disconnect. Don't let yourself use these things. You may find that you're bored enough to go for that run!
  8. Surround yourself with motivating people. The world is full of people that want you to fail. These people are insecure, unhappy, and just plain mean. Avoid them. You know who they are. They'll make this process so much harder to accomplish. They're not worth it.
    • Working out is such a common thing nowadays. If it's not working out, it's dieting. Nobody is happy with what they look like or their health levels it seems. Use this to your advantage! Do you have a group of coworkers, friends, or family members that are going through the same thing? Suggest you team up! You all can put yours heads together to support each other. After all, there's strength in numbers.
  9. Trade weight for cash. A 2007 study showed that the more you pay people to lose weight, the more pounds they drop over a three-month period.[2] Doesn't exactly sound like rocket science, huh? If there's someone who keeps nagging you to lose weight, ask that person about paying you for every pound you lose! Odds are they'll pay up or shut up.
    • If your employer is self-insured, he or she might consider enlisting the services of a company that develops reward programs to encourage employees to lose weight.[3]

Motivating Your Routine

  1. Do something small, right now. Going all the way to the gym, or getting decked out in your jogging gear, or doing whatever it is you feel you should be doing obviously seems like too much work. So just do ten push-ups or jumping jacks. Easy. And usually, it's just enough to get your heart rate going a little bit and make you feel like a little more exercise wouldn't be so bad.
    • Half the battle may be that working out seems like it just takes so much damn time. Between getting ready, going, working out, showering, getting home, and getting back into your day, hours have just disappeared. But doing small things can be effective, too! Don't write 'em off just because you're not drenched in sweat.
  2. Make it enjoyable. If someone hands you a book on something you have zero interest in reading, you're gonna glance at the front cover, the back cover, maybe flip through the pages, and set it down to gather dust. So if you hand your body and mind an equivalent workout, don't expect anything different. Do something that you enjoy, will stick to, and want to see through to the end.
    • This may take readjusting your concept of "working out." It's anything that gets you moving! You don't have to go pounding the pavement or asking for a spotter at the gym. Go swimming, go for a walk in the park, take a dance class -- anything. If you like it, do it. It counts!
  3. Make it doable. Let's stick with the book metaphor. If someone hands you the unabridged, Latin version of the Bible, what would you do? You might be fascinated for a while and tell yourself you're gonna do it(!)...and then two Latin lessons in you decide Oprah's Book Club is more up your alley. Basically, when it comes to working out (and reading), to stay motivated, don't bite off more than you can chew. Make it doable -- make it small.
    • It's easy to sit on the couch on Sunday evening and say, "Okay -- I'm starting. I'm running {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} a day every day until I shed these 20 pounds!" Yeah. About that. You might be revved up for the first few days, but then you stumble so quickly it's impossible to get back up on the horse. So start with 20 minutes a day. A mile walk. Then, up it as you go. If it's doable, guess what? You can do it. And you will.
  4. Make it convenient. Your favorite author just wrote a new novel that's supposed to be really good -- but it's only available at a store across town, the hours are 1:30-2:00 on Thursdays, and there's no parking lot. Are you gonna get that book? Probably not. Same goes for your workout. If it's inconvenient, it's not gonna happen. Pick one that you can get done that doesn't cut into your day so you get 'er done (or else you'll end up resentful, too).
    • Pick a gym that makes sense. Even if the best one is 30 minutes away, you'll be better off going to a decent one that's on your way home from work. Alternatively, plan out a routine you can do at home (yoga, anyone?) and fix it into your schedule. When there are no two ways around it, you'll feel obligated to do it.
  5. Get a buddy. This is similar to the "make yourself accountable" step. When you have another person depending on you (for a ride, for a partner at the gym, whatever), the guilt of letting that person down forces you to do what you promised you'd do. And since you definitely know at least one person that works out, too, this is an easy resource to tap into.
    • Okay, so you're not close enough to anyone that you feel is "on your level?" Join a class or get a trainer. You'll have the added pressure of getting your money's worth -- many places will still charge you if you skip out.
  6. Go for a quick, but intense, workout. Kill the "I don't have time" excuse by developing a routine that engages every muscle in your body in just a few minutes. Just because a workout is long doesn't mean it's good and just because a workout is short doesn't mean it's bad. Kill those misconceptions!
    • Get into interval training. If your schedule is jammed pack, this is the workout for you. If you haven't heard of it, where have you been? High intensity interval training is one of the fastest fat-blasting workouts on the planet (at least right now). You simply alternate between super intense bouts of exercise and rest.[4] The easiest example is 30 seconds full out on the treadmill followed by 20 seconds of rest, but you can do it with weights, too.
  7. Switch it up. If you've been going for a walk around the same park three times a week for the past 2 1/2 years, you may feel a little bored of your current routine and lose the drive to keep going. Such an easily solvable problem! Do something new! The novelty of a new activity will excite you and keep your brain going.
    • If you like the idea of sticking to a routine that requires zero weights and zero gym memberships, don't think you have to work these two in. If you're a runner, try running someplace else, running at a different time of day, or concentrating on sprints, a better time, or a better overall distance. You can change your goals, too! As long as you keep your body wondering what the heck is going on, your mind will stay awake, rejuvenated, and motivated.

Try Sample Exercise Games

  1. Use TV to help you work out. Pick your favorite show, and make a list of things that happen at least once per episode. Pair each item on your list with an exercise. As you're watching, pause the show and do the exercise every time something on your list happens. Check out some sample games below.

Doc:The Bachelor Exercise Game,Survivor Exercise Game,Downton Abbey Exercise Game,Jeopardy! Exercise Game,Doctor Who Exercise Game,The Apprentice Exercise Game


  • Make a playlist of upbeat songs that make you want to move! It's hard to sit still when listening to a fast-paced song. The best ones help you take your mind off the pain and push to new limits.
  • Have fun! For some people, this means exercising with a friend. For others, it means listening to a certain kind of music. Sometimes it means playing a game of football or soccer instead of using a machine. The biggest roadblock to working out is seeing it as "work." So think of all the things you have no problem finding the motivation to do outside of work and find a way to link them together. Do you love to read? Read while you ride a stationary bike. Do you love to dance? Take an aerobically intense dance class, like salsa or swing. Do you love to watch TV? Get a mini stepper to and use it during commercials. Or challenge yourself to do X number of push-ups or crunches before your favorite show comes back on.
  • Put a mirror near your workout station! Looking in the mirror while working out might give you a small boost to workout harder.
  • Try to work out with a partner. It's easy to talk yourself out of working out if you are the only person you are going to disappoint. Setting up a particular time and place to workout and committing to a friend that you will be there can radically improve your odds of sticking with a program.
  • Use dumbbells during exercise where it is suitable. It will help you shape your body quickly.


  • Starting a workout routine when you haven't worked out in ages can be dangerous. You could hurt yourself. Leaping into anything (even if you could do it a decade ago) will result in injury.
  • Consult your doctor for a doable plan. S/He will be able to tell you what's a good idea and what's not. You want to do this the healthy way.

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Sources and Citations