Let’s Talk About Motivation…

We already know why we should be working out: getting healthy, looking good, burning fat – all that good stuff. And if you’re anything like me, then you also already know that you can have the best of intentions, but if it’s not fueled by motivation, then you’ll be sitting on the couch stuffing nachos into your mouth while you think about working out berate yourself for not working out… instead of actually doing it! And yes, I am speaking from experience.

So it’s pretty clear that motivation is pretty important stuff, at least if you ever want to get anything done, but like the ever-inspiring Jim Rohn said: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going”. That’s the missing piece for a lot of people, so a good idea is to think in terms of building new healthy habits because if you think about any of the habits you already have, they’re not hard to do, in fact they probably require little to no motivation at all.

Right, so now that you know the end goal (healthy new habits) how the heck do you actually get there?! Good question, and as luck would have it, I’ve put together some of the best advice, tips and techniques to help you get motivated to work out and form those healthy new habits, which in turn will lead you step by step to getting what you want in the first place. So when you’re ready to get motivated, read on!

86 Awesome Tips to Motivate Yourself to Work Out

  1. Find your ‘Why’

    The secret to motivation is finding a compelling enough ‘why’. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are, what’s critical is that they’re important enough to you. Without a good enough reason, you’re not going to be motivated long-term. Write down why you want to achieve your fitness goals – they can be anything, from improving your health to looking great naked – write them down and read them every single day. If they don’t motivate you, you need to dig deeper and find the reasons that do.

  2. One goal at a time

    Everyone knows that achieving anything worth its’ salt takes effort, so the fastest way to sabotage your success is to spread yourself too thin by trying to do too much at the same time. In my experience, trying to multitask you goals just doesn’t work – in fact, it requires exponentially more effort. It’s the same with your fitness goals. Write down the goals you want to achieve, prioritise them and then do one at a time. Trying to lose weight, gain muscle and change your diet all at the same time is going to be very tough and you’re much more likely to throw the towel in when things get tricky. So if you’re doing that and you find that your motivation is waning, cut down your goals to boost your motivation. That doesn’t mean you forget about the other goals though, remember you want to establish new habits, so once you’ve got to the point where, for example, working out 5 days a week is a habit then you can move onto a different goal like changing your diet.

  3. Be a fitness role model

    Set the example for your children, your family, your friends.

  4. Find the passion

    If inspiration is the spark of motivation, passion is its’ fuel. Passion is going to see you through the setbacks you inevitably face on your journey towards your fitness goals (or any goals for that matter). Passion is something you can cultivate. In fact, in my opinion, it’s essential to getting where you want to go. The secret is finding the reasons which light you up, and these are uniquely your own; you’ve got to find what works for you. A good way is to start by finding the things you can feel passionate about, for e.g. maybe it’s looking sexy, or being healthy, and use these as a springboard to much greater motivation. The key point is that passion isn’t passive, it’s something you need to actively cultivate.

  5. Make it visible

    You’ve heard the saying: out of sight, out of mind. So it’s no surprise that the opposite is true too. Whatever your fitness goal is, write it down or print it out and put it everywhere you will see it. Great places are: bathroom mirror, fridge door, pantry door, by the computer screen (you could even set your desktop wallpaper to have your goal). Also have a place where you can easily see the progress you are making. Don’t just do it on the computer, make it physical: print it out and pin it somewhere!

  6. Make a fitness vision board

    Vision boards are a great way to get inspired, keep your goals visible and get creative (here’s a good example).

  7. Turn off the T.V.

    Come back when you’ve done your workout.

  8. Commit… Publicly!

    Sticking to your work outs requires commitment. One way you can increase your own commitment to working out is by making a public declaration to people in your life. This makes you publicly accountable so it’s much harder to slack off because you don’t feel like working out that day. Just make sure you tell people who are going to support your goals, not hinder them.

  9. Buddy up

    One of the most powerful ways to ensure you stick to your workouts is to buddy up because you will motivate each other. Not only that, but you increase your own commitment and accountability. Buddying up really shines if you have a low-motivation day, they’ll usually be able to get you motivated to work out anyway. Just make sure you buddy up with someone who is as committed to your shared fitness goals as you are – choose your buddy well!

  10. Build anticipation

    Leo Babauta has said that one of the tips that has boosted his motivation is to build anticipation for the goal rather than starting immediately. So mark a date in your calendar, say a week from now, as your fitness start day, then spend the week planning your workouts and getting inspired! By the time your start date arrives you should be bursting with motivation to work out.

  11. Focus on your progress

    Instead of thinking about how far you’ve got to go, think about how far you’ve come. Tracking your progress and before photos help a long way with this.

  12. P.U.S.H.

    Persist until something happens. It’s easy to stay motivated when you first start something, or when you’re seeing results. The trick is staying motivated when you’re not yet seeing results. The important thing to remember is that even if you don’t see it yet, every workout is bringing you closer and closer to the goal you set yourself when you first started. Push past wanting to give up and just keep going.

  13. Start really, really small

    The smaller you start, the easier it is to get it done. Take the pressure off and set your workout goals really small. For example, how about just 5 minutes of exercise a day? Too much? Then make it 3 minutes. The most important part is that you do it every day, same time, same place – give it some structure. The next week, try adding another 5 minutes per day.

  14. Dive in to the deep end

    At the other end of the spectrum to starting really small, is diving in to the deep end. For example, say you want to start working out, instead of doing just a few minutes each day, you throw yourself into the deep end and commit to doing 45 minutes for 5 days of the week. After that week you ease up to 20 minutes every day. Since you’re used to doing 45 minutes a day, maintaining this reduced level will be easy. Keep this going for a week or two and then jump into the deep end again. Rinse and repeat. The idea is that you take on a level you purposely can’t maintain yet and do it for a brief, but intense period of time; when you drop back down you’ll have made much greater strides towards your goal. The added benefit is that you may surprise yourself and find that jumping into the deep end was actually easy, in which case, set yourself a bigger challenge.

  15. Attract more hotties

    Need I say more? Yes? Ok, you’ll also have better sex and look great naked. Boom.

  16. Surround yourself with motivated people

    Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “Who you surround yourself, you become”. It doesn’t matter if it’s business, fitness or any other endeavour – the people you surround yourself with is one of the biggest predictors of success. You need to surround yourself with people who are going to support your fitness goals, not hinder them – this may mean making new friends, and dropping old ones. Having trouble finding people? Use YouTube! Find videos that get you motivated, e.g. here, here and here. Use what works for you!

  17. Read about it

    Immerse yourself in fitness and you’ll be much more motivated to work out. One of the best ways is to read fitness blogs so that you can follow along with other people who have the same goals as you. Get involved in the fitness forums. Subscribe to fitness websites so that you get daily motivation sent straight to your in-box.

  18. Phone a friend

    Low on motivation? Phone a friend and let them tell you that you’ve got exactly what it takes to do this workout! You might want to give them a heads-up before you start doing this, and you can return the favor with their goals.

  19. Eat healthy

    The healthier your diet, the more energy you’ll have and the more motivated you’ll be. This includes getting enough food, because food fuels workouts!

  20. Focus on the positives

    If you dwell on the things you hate about working out, you’re not going to be motivated to work out. Makes sense. By the same token, dwelling on the things you love about your workouts is going to get that motivation flowing. When you start, there may only be a few things you love about it, it doesn’t matter – focus on those – over time you’ll discover more and more. The other thing you want to do is after your workouts, make sure you spend at least a few minutes bathing in all the feel-good chemicals as well as the positive emotions. Do this after every workout – really appreciate the work you’ve done, no matter how small.

  21. Find Your Mantra or Slogan

    I love this tip from Sid Savara. You can repeat this mantra/slogan to yourself whenever you need to boost your motivation. Find a mantra that works for you, for e.g.: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” or “Make yourself proud.” or create your own. For added power, whenever you feel particularly motivated, say your mantra/slogan three times with feeling (inside or outside your head) and also just before you start and after your workouts. This way you condition your mantra/slogan as a psychological trigger to get back into your motivated state of mind.

  22. Get into the Zone

    That state of Flow when everything is effortless is so prized by top performing athletes, that they train themselves to enter it on demand. You wont get into the zone while you’re just starting your workouts, but after a while, once you’re familiar with the exercises you can find yourself entering the Zone. Things which help with this is listening to the same music each time (make sure you choose your playlist well), having everything at hand, minimizing distractions and immersing yourself in the workout for a brief, but intense period of time.

  23. Simplify!

    When things are too complicated it can be hard to get motivated. The solution is to cut out as much as the complexity as you can; simplify everything. Or in the words of Albert Einstein: “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.” So, if you’ve got a lot of complexity around your workouts, including logistics or anything else, simplify it!

  24. Transfer time

    Our time is limited; each of us has just 24 hours a day. So you can’t make more time, all you can do is transfer it from one activity to another. If you want to work out, you’ve got to carve out the time to do that, which means some other activity is going to have less time. So you need to work out where that time is going to come from. Unless you do this, you’ll be setting yourself up to fail.

  25. Turn it into a routine

    If you hate routines, I hear ya! But it turns out that they work really well, so get some structure with your workouts. Work out at the same time, same place and on the same days and you’ll be more likely to turn working out into a habit.

  26. Make your workouts non-negotiable.

    When you don’t feel like working out, sometimes you’ve go to forget about “feel like it”. Sometimes you simply need to suck it up and just do it.

  27. Tiny steps to success

    Instead of trying to make big strides, spaced far apart, take tiny but much more frequent steps towards your goal. For example, if you’re doing squats you could add a single rep each time; for running, add an additional 30 seconds. The idea is to add tiny increments (which actually seem too easy) and to do it consistently – small, consistent steps add up to big results.

  28. Worst Case Scenario / Best Case Scenario

    Here’s a way to put your imagination to use in getting you motivated. Imagine the worst case scenario if you don’t work out today, then on the other hand imagine the best case scenario if you did workout today. The trick is not to make them realistic, but to let your imagination run wild and have a sense of humour about it.

  29. Think short term & long term

    Sometimes the key to getting motivated is as simple as changing the time frame. For example, if you don’t feel like working out today, imagine what the short-term consequences of that would be, as well as the long term consequences of not working out would be. Check your motivation. Then imagine the short term results of working out today and the long term results of working out. Check your motivation again.

  30. Remember those endorphins

    Exercise floods your body with feel-good chemicals – it’s a natural high and it’s perfectly legal! Just remembering how good you feel after a workout, is a powerful motivator.

  31. Use your workout to get inspired

    Many people use their workout time to get inspired about other areas of their life. There’s something about exercise which clears your mind and promotes new ideas. I’ve heard from many people that they’ve done their best work while running, swimming or on the treadmill.

  32. Make it fun

    If you don’t have fun while you’re working out it’s going to be pretty hard to turn it into a habit. That’s why it’s so important to do the kind of exercise you really enjoy – it’s not all about the gym or the treadmill. There are enough activities out there that you’re bound to find one you love. Home workouts are awesome because they are so accessible, so try those too. The other thing you can do is make your workouts as fun as possible – it’s up to you to find the fun, no one else can do it for you. Give your workouts a crazy name like: Operation Sexypants – get creative.

  33. Focus on the sexy

    Sure, working out is good for your health, but who doesn’t want to look sexy? And sexy is what happens when you make working out a habit. Sometimes you just need to think about how sexy you’re going to look. Vain? Maybe. But does it work? Absolutely!

  34. Challenge yourself

    One of the best ways to get more motivated is to set challenges for yourself. The best person to challenge is yourself, so aim to improve your time, the number of reps you do, or the weight you’re lifting. You can also set challenges like working out every day for a week, or eating clean for the week.

  35. Get off the Internet

    Come back when you’ve done your workout.

  36. Count those calories

    Counting calories is a great motivator because it gives you something to work towards each day. It’s also one of the most effective ways to lose weight which, when combined with your workouts, will speed you towards your fitness goals.

  37. Admire some bodies

    There’s nothing wrong with ‘miring some bodies. Seeing people who have worked to get the kind of physique you want for yourself is very motivating. Transformation photos are especially motivating.

  38. Get involved in the fitness community

    Immerse yourself in the community and don’t just sit on the sidelines, get involved. You’ll make new friends and you’ll be much more motivated to work out.

  39. Reward yourself

    Reward yourself with things which support your fitness goals. So if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t reward yourself with a tub of ice cream after a workout – that doesn’t support your goals at all! Instead make a list of things which support your goals, put them in a jar and reward reward yourself immediately after each workout and when you reach fitness milestones. Rewards can be anything, from time on Pinterest to new workout gear – get creative!

  40. Buy new workout gear

    Set yourself a workout milestone, like working out 45 minutes, 5 days a week, for a month, then reward yourself with new workout gear when you hit it. Not only will you look great in your new gear, but you’ll look sexier in it from all the workouts you’ve been doing.

  41. 5K, Marathon, Triathlon

    Committing to a 5K, marathon or triathlon is a great way to get fit and keep motivated. Especially if you’re doing it for charity and have sponsors who you’d let down if you didn’t do it.

  42. Get a personal trainer

    Getting a personal trainer is one of the best things you can do for your fitness, not only will they keep you motivated, but you’ll also learn the correct form for the exercises your doing… and prevent injury down the line.

  43. Find inspiring transformations

    Transformation photos show you what’s possible. You can do it too.

  44. Log your progress

    Sometimes it’s hard to see how far you’ve come; having a log of your progress let’s you know. Tracking your progress is a sign that you’re serious about your fitness goals, so if you are, make sure you do it.

  45. Pay yourself

    Every time you do a workout put a dollar into your workout jar.

  46. Take your before picture

    Changing your body composition is a relatively slow process, you could be making amazing strides towards your initial goal, and yet not realize it because you’re used to the way you look now. Sometimes, it’s only when you look at where you were, what you used to look like, that the results of all that hard work are visible to you. There’s nothing more motivating than actually seeing progress, so take progress pictures!

  47. Use technology

    Try some of these great apps which help you to stay motivated and form new habits.

  48. Weekly weigh-ins

    You probably already know that it’s not about weight loss, it’s about fat loss. The scales can tell you if you’ve lost weight, but they can’t tell you how amazing you are. Still, seeing your weight go down can be motivating, just don’t get hung up on it – body measurements are a much better indicator.

  49. Think health

    Exercise is good for your health – that’s all there is to it. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. So if you want to be able to play with your kids, or see your grandchildren one day; if you want to be active into your old age, then you must do at least a moderate level of exercise most days. Don’t wait until you can’t, make the time now.

  50. Blog about it

    What’s even better than reading fitness blogs? Writing your own fitness blog! By really committing, and putting yourself out there, you prove to the world and yourself that you’re serious about your fitness goals. Not only that, but you start to inspire and motivate others, and there’s something amazing about that – you become much more motivated too.

  51. Motivational quotes

    A good quote can do wonders for your motivation. Pinterest and Tumblr are great sources of motivational quotes, but take it a step further and print them out, write them down and stick them everywhere you’ll see them. Collect your favorite motivational quotes and when you need a boost, read through them until you feel sufficiently motivated to do that workout.

  52. Summer, Weddings, Reunions

    If your motivation is low, remind yourself how close you are to Summer, a wedding or a reunion. Events are a great way to keep your motivation strong.

  53. Accept compliments on your progress

    Don’t dismiss the hard work you’ve been doing; dismiss negativity. Accept the compliment and use it to reinforce your motivation. Next time you feel low on motivation, you can remember their complement to get you motivated again.

  54. Get a great workout mix

    Music makes a huge difference to your motivation, get a workout mix you love, pop those headphones on and be motivated!

  55. Keep your workouts fresh

    Variety is the spice of life. It’s no different with your workouts. If you’re feeling less than inspired by your workout, spend some time switching it up – make it fresh and exciting again and your motivation levels will soar. Always work out in the gym? Try some outdoors workouts. Only do cardio? Lift some weights! Work out alone? Invite a friend.

  56. Update your playlist

  57. Remember to rest

    Sometimes we can get low on energy and motivation if we over train, so remember to take rest days. Most people only need 1 or 2 rest days a week.

  58. Keep workouts flexible

    If you make your workouts too rigid, it’s going to put you off doing them when your motivation wanes. So instead make them flexible – e.g. if you workout 45 minutes a day, but today you only do 20 minutes, that’s okay. The most important thing is to work out consistently and cut yourself some slack. I’d much rather give 20 minutes of full intensity than 45 minutes of wishy-washy intensity.

  59. Motivation follows a rhythm

    When you realize that motivation ebbs and flows, when it’s low you know it’s temporary – pretty soon, maybe even in a few minutes time, it could be flowing again. Rather than feeling bad, you can take those ebbs as opportunities to get inspired again, take a rest day, or just do it anyway.

  60. Plan to succeed

    To keep your motivation levels up, make sure you spend time each day imagining what it’s going to be like when you finally reach your fitness goals, the steps it’s going to take and most importantly, how you were able to overcome setbacks easily.

  61. Keep a fitness journal

    If you write it down every day, it’ll be on your mind every day and you’ll be more motivated to keep it going.

  62. Eliminate fitness obstacles

    Aim to reduce or eliminate everything that impedes your workouts. If you don’t workout because you forget your workout gear, make sure you get it ready the night before. If you get home and you don’t want to workout, workout first thing in the morning. If you spend too much time watching T.V. or on the Internet, work out before you do those things. Whenever you miss a workout, spend some time working out why and then see if you can eliminate or reduce that obstacle for the next time.

  63. Make it a 30 day challenge

    Steve Pavlina recommends doing 30 day challenges (he calls them trials). This is a great idea because you commit for 30 days and then at the end of it you decide whether or not you want to continue. It’s a great way to get motivated, because it’s a short enough time that you can commit fully to the challenge and there’s no pressure to continue at the end of it unless you want to.

  64. Find your rhythm

    Some people find it easy to work out in the morning, others can only do it at night. If you find it hard to get motivated to work out, try changing when you do it and see if that gets you more motivated.

  65. Don’t think, just do

  66. Stay physically active through the day

    It’s much harder to get motivated when you’ve been sedentary the whole day. To prevent this, make sure you stay active. Go out for your lunches, take active breaks, stretch and do mini-workouts. When it comes time to work out you’ll be much more motivated.

  67. Workout before you relax

    If you work out when you get home from work, don’t sit down and turn on the T.V. Make it a priority to get your workout done immediately, before you have a chance to relax. Get it done first and you’ll feel great and enjoy your relaxation much more.

  68. Keep it on your mind daily

    Spend time each day thinking about why you’re working out in the first place. Remember those reasons which were powerful enough to get you motivated and spend some time going over those. Spend time thinking about what you love about working out, find anything, as time goes by you’ll find more and more things you love about it. If you’ve made visible progress, spend some time feeling good about that; anticipate further progress and look forward to that… after your next workout!

  69. Get your gear ready and visible

    You’re much more likely to work out if you have your workout gear with you, or it’s visible. Get it ready the night before, so you can’t use not having it as an excuse.

  70. Unmotivated? Do as much as you can

    If you’re feeling unmotivated, don’t skip the workout, just do as much as you can. At the very least, put on your workout gear and get outside. If you workout at home, get the workout ready. If that’s as much as you do, that’s fine – the point is to do as much as you can and then test if you could do a bit more. For example, I heard of someone who will put on their workout clothes and drive to the gym, with no intention of working out, but by the time they get there, they’re find that they suddenly have the motivation they need.

  71. Take a gym class

  72. Create workout rules

    Rules allow you to be flexible while still being accountable to yourself. For example, you may have a rule that you can only have 2 rest days a week, this way you know that if you miss 2 days because of lack of motivation, you have to make them up that week. Having rules makes it less a question of motivation and more about things you have to do, so remember to make it fun.

  73. Make the alternatives worse

    Not motivated to work out? How would you like to do chores instead? One of the best ways to get off your butt, is to give yourself a worse alternative to working out, so doing the workout actually becomes a no-brainer.

  74. Make it cost you

    Every time you miss a workout, pay someone a dollar. Or, if you want to up the ante, give someone $20 at the start of the week and instruct them to only give it back to you if you do 5 workouts that week. Just make sure they’ll actually give your money back afterwards!

  75. Exercise in the morning

    When you exercise first thing in the morning you don’t have time to be unmotivated, the trick is to wake up and immediately put your workout gear on. Working out in the morning sets you up for the whole day, you’re already feeling good for having done it, you’re more likely to eat clean because you’ve just done a workout, which means you’ll see faster results and be more motivated. Win, win, win. Just keep that snooze button far away enough that you have to get up.

  76. Prepare for setbacks

    Setbacks can seriously derail your motivation. However, one thing is certain, you will face setbacks on the path towards your fitness goals. Knowing this you can prepare in advance to bounce back when they happen. Don’t look at them as an all or nothing proposition. For example, at some stage you’re probably going to get a cold, instead of letting this derail you you can plan to use this time to rest, recover and get inspired, so that when you get better you’re ready for action again. Obviously you can’t prepare for every setback, but just knowing that you can bounce back after they happen, can help you stay motivated.

  77. Haters want you to fail

    Got haters? They want you to fail. Use them to motivate you.

  78. Bust your excuses before they happen

    Write down a list of all the excuses you’ve used to miss a workout, then write down why it’s an excuse and not a reason to skip this workout. Next to that, write down how you’re going to get over it. Put it somewhere visible, so the next time you make an excuse, it’s right there on the paper.

  79. Hold yourself to your highest vision

    Don’t settle for a second-best version of yourself. Hold yourself to the highest possible vision of yourself that you can. Would the highest vision of you skip this workout?

  80. Do daily fitness reviews

    If you miss a workout, cut yourself some slack. You may have missed the workout, but you can still learn from it. Do a daily fitness review and see what you could improve, what were the obstacles, how could you get rid of them? Turn it into a positive and next tomorrow you’ll be more motivated.

  81. Change the way you see yourself

    If you think of yourself as lazy. Stop. Change the way you think of yourself: act as if you’re highly motivated and soon you will be.

  82. Get inspired

    Inspiration ignites motivation, so find sources of inspiration that work for you. I love the Health & Fitness category on Pinterest, Fitspo Tumblrs (like this one) and fitness channels on Youtube (like Zuzka Light). Make some time in your day for an “Inspiration Session”. Give it a time limit, like 10 – 30 minutes, so that you don’t spend all your time getting inspired and miss your work out. Inspiration without action is just wishful thinking.

  83. Remember why you started

  84. Use the 5-minute rule

    When you lack motivation, just do 5 minutes worth of exercise. Promise yourself that you will always do 5 minutes regardless of how you feel. People often find that when they start, suddenly they find the motivation to keep going.

  85. Micro-workouts!

    Instead of doing one long workout, split it up into micro-workouts throughout your day. One 45 minute workout is just three 15 minute mini-workouts!

  86. Be your own fitness hero

    You’re the hero of this story. So what are you going to do?

Put It Into Action!

There are enough tips and techniques in the list above to get you out of even the most unmotivated state of mind, but it’s up to you to put them into action. If you persist and push past the times when you lack motivation, soon working out will become a healthy habit. Start seeing yourself as your own fitness hero and make working out part of your life. Be an inspiration to those around you. Start right now.

Your turn: How do you motivate yourself? What tips are you going to use? Which ones have you been using, how’s it been going? Let us know!

One Response to “86 Ways To Motivate Yourself To Work Out”

  1. Tryary

    Thank you for the list. I did some research on motivation and exercise on http://www.tryary.com and what I noticed is that if you’re starting to exercise, extrinsic factors motivate better than Intrinsic factors. If you are already exercising and need the motivation, intrinsic factors are better.

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