Smart Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out

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1. Wash your hair only on days you work out.

Real life, I only allow myself to wash my hair after working out. So if I don’t for a couple days… I have to face the ridicule of my peers haha. Or my hair gets too tangled from all the baby powder.

2. Put on your workout clothes.

When I can’t be bothered I usually just go and put on my running stuff anyway. You feel like a loser pretty quickly if you change out of running stuff without actually going running.

3. Write down how you feel after every workout.

I write down how I feel after a workout every single time. So, when I am low on motivation to wake up and go for a run or a workout, I pull out the doc and read how great I felt after completing a five-miler. This really works for me because I get out of the bed knowing that at the end of the workout, I feel the same amazing feeling again! —Aishwarya Subramanian, via Facebook

I write down how I feel after a workout every single time. So, when I am low on motivation to wake up and go for a run or a workout, I pull out the doc and read how great I felt after completing a five-miler. This really works for me because I get out of the bed knowing that at the end of the workout, I feel the same amazing feeling again!

4. Remember why you started.

I remember all those times I tried clothes on and they didn't look good because of the extra weight, or the times I wanted to wear shorts and weren't brave enough. That always gets my ass moving — it's not about keeping the motivation, it's about remembering why you started in the first place, and asking if you really want to start all over again because you couldn't be bothered. —Rosamund Llewelyn, via Facebook

I remember all those times I tried clothes on and they didn’t look good because of the extra weight, or the times I wanted to wear shorts and weren’t brave enough. That always gets my ass moving — it’s not about keeping the motivation, it’s about remembering why you started in the first place, and asking if you really want to start all over again because you couldn’t be bothered.

5. Ask yourself: “Will I regret skipping this workout”

I ask myself if I will regret in any way not working out. And once I’m there [I ask myself] if I’d regret, even in the smallest way, stopping when it gets hard.

6. Sign up for classes at boutique studios.

Honestly, instead of joining a gym I just pay per exercise class at boutique fitness studios. It seems more expensive in the long run, but the only time I miss a class I sign up for is when I have zero choice since skipping has an actual dollar amount attached. Plus the class structure guarantees not only that I show up, but that I stick it out for the full 45 minutes.Nobody wants to be THAT person who walks out early or the person who’s slacking. It may not be the most cost-effective, but it gets me to actually work out and that’s what is most important to me!

7. Try group fitness.

Group fitness classes keep me motivated. I look forward to seeing the other participants and instructor. The energy of the group keeps me going in the moments that I want to quit. I feel like I'm accountable to keep at it for the full time. You never want to be the person who quits and leaves early. I do so much more than I would if I were working out on my own. —Kathleen Vandevoorde, via Facebook

Group fitness classes keep me motivated. I look forward to seeing the other participants and instructor. The energy of the group keeps me going in the moments that I want to quit. I feel like I’m accountable to keep at it for the full time. You never want to be the person who quits and leaves early. I do so much more than I would if I were working out on my own.

8. Get addicted to the post-exercise endorphin rush.

My motivation is the knowledge that I will have an awesome endorphin rush afterward and run around, smiling like an idiot for a few hours. I am seriously addicted.

9. Pretend there’s a crowd and it’s going wild.

Sometimes when a workout gets tough and I want to quit I imagine that I’m a professional athlete and that an audience is watching me expecting me to give it my all. It’s embarrassing but it does work to motivate me. —victoriac44c2348fc

Sometimes when a workout gets tough and I want to quit I imagine that I’m a professional athlete and that an audience is watching me expecting me to give it my all. It’s embarrassing but it does work to motivate me.

10. Surround yourself with motivation.

I hang up motivational pictures on my mirrors, like Kendall Jenner or just good sayings. I also have my goal weight written everywhere — car mirror, refrigerator, calendar, etc. — so it’s a constant reminder to work toward that number.

11. Give yourself micro-challenges.

I enjoy challenging myself but only with little challenges. So if I’m three minutes away from a five-minute mark I’ll push myself to the five minutes. By then I’m only a short distance from a 0.5 or 1K marker so I’ll push myself to that. Then back to the next five-minute marker and so on. —libbyc430e1d350

I enjoy challenging myself but only with little challenges. So if I’m three minutes away from a five-minute mark I’ll push myself to the five minutes. By then I’m only a short distance from a 0.5 or 1K marker so I’ll push myself to that. Then back to the next five-minute marker and so on.

12. And give yourself longer-term challenges too.

In February, I challenged myself to do 200 miles of cardio (ski machine, elliptical, rowing machine, bike). I kept a log (old-school pen and paper) and logged in how much I did on what machine that day. When all was said and done, I averaged six days a week and ended up with 220 miles. There were several days that I wanted to skip, but did not due to the challenge. My pants are already feeling looser. —tabbycat31

In February, I challenged myself to do 200 miles of cardio (ski machine, elliptical, rowing machine, bike). I kept a log (old-school pen and paper) and logged in how much I did on what machine that day. When all was said and done, I averaged six days a week and ended up with 220 miles. There were several days that I wanted to skip, but did not due to the challenge. My pants are already feeling looser.

13. Work out with people who will cheer you on.

Having people standing behind me, yelling and jumping up and down when I’m stuck at the bottom of a heavy squat is the best motivator. Because it hypes me up, but also because it means everybody else in the gym looks over to see what’s going on, and fear of failing with that big of an audience makes me at least 20% stronger.

14. Listen to audiobooks.

I like listening to audiobooks to keep me motivated while running. So I have to work out the next day to see how the story turns out. —Amanda Cruz Myhrberg

Lzf / Getty Images

I like listening to audiobooks to keep me motivated while running. So I have to work out the next day to see how the story turns out. —Amanda Cruz Myhrberg

15. Enjoy the healthy balance of delicious food and enjoyable exercise.

Quite simply, I like to eat, so working out gives me balance. Plus it’s great for fighting depression — a natural (and fun!) mood booster. —Erika Purtell

16. Do it for the pictures.

When I don’t want to go for a run, I pick a scenic route and tell myself that I can stop to take as many pictures as I want. I guess I do it for the Insta.

17. Use the app Zombies, Run!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Zombies, Run! The best app EVER. Nothing will get your feet pounding the pavement harder than the sound of the undead breathing down your neck. And I have never ‘shipped anything as hard as I ‘ship Jack and Eugene.

18. Make whatever you do to exercise your favorite thing.

I never need to motivate myself, because I found a sport that I love. I literally wait all day to get to the climbing gym, and my body is showing the benefits without extra effort. I even started doing abs (which I absolutely hate) because I want to get better at climbing!

19. Hang out with high-energy kids.

Kids motivate me to keep working out. I want to be able to have a lot of energy to keep up with them, and all of the activities they like to do.

20. Compete with any/everyone.

I secretly compete with whoever is exercising beside me, whether I know them or not.

21. Do it for the post-race medal.

I’m a runner and nothing motivates me more than knowing that at the end of the race I am running that I will get a medal. This has all worked for me during the last four years because I’ve dropped 70 pounds and kept it off.

22. Vow to never be last to cross the finish line.

I’ve never been the last one across the finish line, but I was once second-to-last. So, what works for me is, “Do you really want to be the last one across the finish line?”

23. Make it a friend meetup.

Going with friends always keeps me motivated; whenever I’m meeting friends at the gym, I’m excited to hang out with them, rather than grumpy about getting off my couch. Honestly getting to the gym is a bigger obstacle than anything in my workout; once I’m there, I’m pumped to get started.

24. Trick yourself into going longer distances.

I run outside and I’ll do two miles before turning around, which forces me to run two more miles to get home.

25. Tell yourself: “I just have to warm up, then I can go home.”

When I feel like I want to skip training, I tell myself I just have to go into the changing room and get into my gym kit, then I can go home. Nothing hard about that, it’s not even exercise. Then, when I’m in my gym kit in the changing room, I feel a bit silly, so I tell myself I just have to do my warm-up routine. Then, when I’m warmed up, eh, I’m sure I could manage one set of overhead presses. Then, might as well do the other two sets. And hey, I used all that effort to get the barbell loaded, I might as well add more weight and do those three sets of front squats too. And then, well, there’s only deadlifts left to do, might as well do them. Although I tell myself I could go home after this next set, I’ve never yet actually found myself going home until I’ve finished the whole thing. Stops it being so daunting, especially when I’m finding it particularly hard.

26. Track your successes.

I literally have a specific color highlighter that I use to mark the days I actually stay on track with diet and workout plus I have rewards for reaching my goals which change not just improving but also consistency.

27. Think about how much stronger you’re getting.

Growing stronger and more conditioned is my main motivation… Knowing that your body just did something it couldn’t do a few weeks back is an amazing feeling. Also, abs.

28. Listen to the voice inside that says, “I can do this!”

I choose to listen to the voice inside me that says, “I can do this! I want to do this!” I choose to ignore the voice that asks “Who do you think you are?” or says “You aren’t a real runner, just give up!” I choose to just get out and go for that run, or that workout, and live with the benefit! That’s what motivation means to me