I’ve been exercising for about a century now (okay, not quite) and, even after all of that time, I still am challenged to keep myself motivated. This thought struck home the other night as I was making dinner: I found myself to be head-achy, body-achy, and overall achy–not to mention exhausted and moody to boot. Granted, I recently made the switch from a building gym to a private one and my increased attendance, variation of routines, and workout length were all taking their toll. Even so, I had to wonder: “How do I keep myself motivated to exercise?”

Well, for starters, I isolate one major and one minor muscle group a day. By way of example, I start with a day of chest and biceps, follow that with a day of legs and shoulders, and then move on to a day of back and triceps. (It bears mentioning that I exercise my stomach every day–as the abdominal muscles are more resilient–and I take off at least one day between 3-day routines) Not only does this 3-day routine provide me with a relatively good variation of push and pull exercises on any given day, but also it creates a relatively good rest cycle for each muscle group across time. Put simply, I’m not overwhelmed by too much pushing or pulling on any one day and my muscles are rested and ready to go when I target them because I allow them to rest between workouts (~3 days before targeting the same muscle group(s)).

Another way I motivate myself is by visualizing my results. Simply put, I want to like (if not love!) what I see in the mirror. If I look in the mirror and see something I don’t like, I target it at the gym, albeit, more often than not the gym is but one part of the “fix-it-up” puzzle because diet and exercise do go hand in hand for building, tightening, and smoothing (etc.) the body. Nonetheless, I am able to maintain motivation by seeing the results in my head and then working towards them with targeted exercises (and appropriate dietary adjustments) over time.

Another great motivator for me is music. I tend to be all business when I exercise (please don’t hold it against me!), but this doesn’t keep me from being distracted by others and/or the environment and or _____ at the gym. With this in mind, it’s all about creating the environment you desire (as much as possible). After all, if you don’t like it your won’t want to be in it, right? So, I’ve created several playlists of music that really motivate me in the gym. It’s a small thing, but it really helps me keep moving and focused–particularly when I pick up-tempo music for cardio, weights, and machines, and down-tempo music for stretching.

Last, but certainly not least, I keep myself motivated by consciously thinking about how good I feel between (if not after) workouts when I’m actively exercising. I often feel re-energized after a workout and I take the knowledge of that feeling into the workout. Heck, I use it to drag my butt off the sofa and out the door to get to the gym. There’s also nothing quite like being physically tuned into your body. When I exercise regularly, I am much more aware of my physical self–I can feel the tightness in my stomach, the strength of my arms, and the power of my legs in a different way because I am actively maintaining my entire body. Over time and with continued effort, this inward power sense is made visible outwardly and, well, there’s nothing quite like knowing and seeing the “you” you’ve created.

So, if you find yourself “mult-achy,” exhausted, and moody (possibly just for starters!), then the above-mentioned motivators may be of help to you. If you’ve yet to start exercising, these motivators may help you get over the hurdle that keeps your from doing so. Whoever you are, wherever you are, and in whatever shape you’re in, I’m hoping that one or all of these motivators is helpful to you.

Here’s the recap of 5 ways to stay motivated to exercise:

(1) Vary push- and pull-based exercises on any given day

(2) Alternate muscle groups across days to provide muscles with adequate rest and recovery time

(3) Visualize and create the outcome you want to achieve

(4) Add a soundtrack (or several) to your workouts

(5) Be mindful of the “high” that comes with exercise


One thought on “Keep on, keepin’ on… (5 ways to stay motivated to exercise)

  1. Number 3 for sure is a great way. I keep those motivational photos with quotes on my phone for during a workout and throughout the day. Quickly turns any lack of motivation back into motivation!

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