If you’ve committed to sticking to a workout routine in 2022, that’s half the battle. The other half is, you know, actually sticking to it. To help you out on that front, we tapped personal trainers for their savviest strategies to torching sweat at the (home) gym.
1. Focus on the why.
Garret Seacat stresses the importance of asking yourself the “why” when it comes to devoting yourself to a fitness routine — and not just once. “Find the root motivation for what you are doing. It will be hard to stay motivated if you are not sure what your driving motive truly is,” he tells Fox News. “Ask yourself why, and then after you have written down that answer yourself why again, repeat until you have done this five total times and see what your answer reveals. Your real motivation may surprise you.”
2. Commit to a specific workout plan.
Trying a YouTube Pilates video your friend recommended one day and then buying a bunch of resistance bands and trying to train with those the next week isn’t likely to get you very far. “I see people all the time jumping from program to program, doing random workouts throughout their week,” says Tami Smith, owner of FitHealthyMomma.com. “There’s no rhyme or reason to them, which means that they aren’t going to be getting optimal results from the plan. When you commit to a specified plan, you’re far more likely to stick to it.”
3. Make sure you have the right equipment for your workouts.
Either that, or you have mapped out some alternatives that you can use, says Smith. “I’ve seen many people give up on a workout program simply because they didn’t have ‘X,Y, or Z’ piece of equipment at the ready,” recounts Smith. “Take some time to look over the workout the day before and make sure you have what you need to get it done,” she continues, highlighting that there are so many ways to get creative and modify your workouts, just be prepared.
For instance, if you’re doing a virtual yoga class and don’t have yoga blocks, try using a thick textbook or a few hardcover books. No weights for that five-minute workout? Try water bottles.
4. Tell others your plans to work out regularly to hold yourself accountable.
“It’s one thing to give up on your fitness goals when you’re the only one who knew about your intentions, but you’re far more likely to stick with the plan when you announced it to your family, friends or online community,” says Smith. Try finding a workout buddy you can motivate and stay accountable to by reporting back every time you’ve completed a workout so that you’re both helping the other stay on track.
Beyond keeping tabs on each other, partnering up with a friend on specific workouts even if you’re doing them apart or as part of a larger community can be very beneficial. “When you feel as though you’re isolated and alone on your fitness journey, it’s often hard to keep at it with the gumption and vigor with which you started,” says Smith. “But with a little help from some uplifting friends, whether in real life or online, you’ll find yourself feeling a new level of motivation and encouragement.”
5. Create a time log.
Seacat urges individuals seeking to overhaul their fitness to create a time log for a few days and see how their time is truly spent. “It will surprise you how much time is ‘wasted’ on things such as social media. Take advantage of that time and use it for working out,” he says, noting that one hour of your day is only 4% of your day!
6. Start with just 10 minutes of fitness-related activities a day.
Sure, that one-hour workout may be ideal (and, hey, it’s only 4% of your day, as we were recently nudged), but short workouts can be a great starting point and incentivize you to keep the healthy momentum going. Chris Lee, creator of nine-minute-a-day health and fitness program HAU 2 FIT, is all about that ethos: “Do something fitness-oriented for only 10 minutes. You can do more, but the idea is that you don’t have to, so you can always squeeze in nine to 10 minutes of exercise every single day,” he shares. “If you toss the idea that you have to work out at least 30-60 minutes for it to be effective, then you lower the barrier and excuse to not workout.”
7. Don’t compare yourself to others’ fitness routines.
Ah, here comes that green monster. There are always going to be people in better and worse shape than you, and we tend to fixate on those who are on the shredded and svelte end of the spectrum rather than the couch potatoes. No more: “What can really help some is to stop comparing their workouts and [your] workout plan to others,” comments Seacat. “Just because an influencer or friend online is able to work out seven times a day, that may not be reasonable for you,” he says. (Nor may it be healthy to work out that much.) “Don’t let others’ availability and time to exercise get you down,” he adds.
8. Consider working out right before you shower.
Yes, we’re assuming daily showers, dear readers. “If you associate exercise with showers, then you won’t have to think about it every day,” says Lee. “Just schedule it right before you need to shower to eliminate the excuse that you forgot about working out.”
9. Create goals that are about something other than weight loss or aesthetics.
If you’re only doing it to see your pants size drop and to “look better,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. “Focusing solely on the number on the scale will quickly cause you to feel defeated. Your weight fluctuates, so it’s not always the most reliable indicator of progress. Rather than place your focus there, why not make a goal of increasing your strength?” suggests Smith. Options include being able to perform a certain number of push-ups, pull-ups, lifting a certain amount of weight, running a certain distance, etc. Focus on your physical growth and how it makes you feel, and the rest will fall into place, she explains, noting that you’ll be so excited about accomplishing your goal that you will be determined to stick with it.
10. And focus on “micro” goals, too.
Along with some big-picture goals to strive for, consider gamifying the workout process by setting your sight on smaller goals. “If you create miniature goals for yourself, you have something to look forward to when you exercise, so it’s not just another boring workout,” says Lee. “Think of it as unlocking a new game level or superpower. Some simple examples are nailing a handstand, push-up or pull-up.”