14 Tricks to stay motivated to exercise


Motivation is one of the key factors when it comes to reaching your fitness goals but unfortunately simply wanting to lose weight or gain muscle in most cases simply isn’t enough to get you into a long-term fitness habit. Thankfully there are some simple tricks that can inspire and motivate you to keep exercising even when it's the last you want to do.


1. Reward yourself

Asides from the long list of physical and mental benefits associated with regular exercise, knowing that you’ll be rewarded for all your blood sweat and tears with a new set of kicks, massage or even an all-inclusive holiday at the end of the year can make the difference between reaching your fitness goals and falling short of the mark.


2. Get it in the diary

Would you remember your doctor's appointment or next business meeting if they weren’t in your diary? Probably not and your workouts are no different. Sometimes when life gets busy it’s easy to put exercise on the back burner until things calm down. However, if you’re serious about attaining any sort of real results, it’s important to prioritise your workouts just like you would any other important aspect of your life. Instead of the casual approach, consider your workouts as mandatory appointments with set days and times. This way you’re far more likely to stick to your fitness routine.


3. Home workout space


If you prefer to exercise at home, make sure to set up a small space dedicated to your workouts. This doesn’t mean you have to convert your spare bedroom into a state of the art home gym, although that does sound cool. It means do whatever you have to do to prep a space in the hours prior to a workout. If it means moving some furniture around, do it the night before. That way you can fall straight out of bed into a sweat without any potential excuses.

Related: The best home exercise equipment for €100 or less


4. Commit to half a workout

If you’re really not in the mood or if the thought of a tough workout is enough to put you off exercise altogether, commit to half of what you usually do instead. Chances are all you need is a little motivation to start. Once you do, 9 times out of 10 you’ll complete a full workout. Either that or you’ll do only half a workout. both of which are better than nothing at all!


5. Write down how you feel after a workout

After your next big workout, take a few notes on how you feel.  Next time you're feeling unenthusiastic or pessimistic about exercise, have a quick look at your notes. Often all it takes is a little reminder of how great you'll feel once you’ve completed your workout.


6. Put on your workout clothes


Sounds silly but this actually works. If you have the tendency to workout first thing, wake up, put on your workout clothes and don’t change out of them until your workout is done. If you exercise after work, put them on as soon as you arrive home. Not only should looking the part get you in the mood to exercise, if you’re procrastinating, it will work as a constant reminder that you need to move your butt!


7. Only shower after a workout

Wait, what!? Yup, you read correctly. Only allow yourself to shower after you workout. The very thought of smelling like raw sewage should be all the motivation you need to stick to your exercise plan.


8. Join a fitness class

Group fitness can offer fantastic motivation to workout. Knowing that you might be letting your fellow fitness enthusiasts down by not showing up can often be enough to get you up off the sofa and out the front door. Not only that but studies show that group fitness can offer more fun, friendly competition and motivation than working out alone. All of which can do wonders for making fitness a priority and long-term habit.


9. Get a personal trainer


Employing the help of a personal trainer is probably one of the very best ways to stick to an exercise routine. Sure it’s a big investment but by having a personal trainer and standing appointment, not only will you be far less likely to opt for post office pints over exercise, your personal trainer will prepare you a fun and effective training plan allowing you to reach your fitness goals in less time!


10. Get a workout buddy

Just like working out with a personal trainer or as part of a group can offer great motivation, training with a friend is not only an awesome way to stay motivated, you can kill two birds with one stone and socialise with your buddy at the same time.

Note: Be careful who you choose. Your workout buddy should be of similar fitness level and share comparable goals. If you already know that a particular friend regularly fails to commit or one that can be a bit of drag, avoid exercising with them at all costs. You’ll end up either working out alone or not at all. 

Related: How to choose the perfect workout buddy


11. Surround yourself with motivation

From action man posters and motivational quotes to the rocky soundtrack and film, regardless of what you consider motivation, surround yourself with it. Sometimes all it takes is a glance at your favourite motivational icon to get you moving!


12. Track your progress


It’s very easy to lose track of how far you’ve come if you don’t have any record of it. By keeping track of all of your fitness achievements along the road, you can regularly look back at how far you’ve come. This can be highly motivational and encourage you to keep going when times get tough. 


13. Treat yourself to more food on workout days

If you're anything like me, just the thought of my favourite dinner or sugary post-workout snack is enough to get me to the gym! Remember, most of the time the hardest part of any workout is simply starting. You might not even need the reward of an extra meal when all is said and done.


14. Stop comparing yourself to your younger you

Unfortunately, we all have distorted memories of how great we used to look or how easy it was to drop 10lbs without any effort. While both may have been true when you were in your teens, chances are if you continue to compare yourself to your more youthful self, you’ll likely get frustrated and lose motivation. By setting more realistic and attainable goals relative to where you currently stand, your chances of success are far greater! 


The bottom line

The very best way to motivate yourself to exercise is to find something that is both sustainable and enjoyable. If you choose something that you hate doing, despite you’re best efforts it will always feel like a chore.

You don’t have to use all of the tricks above. However, if you are struggling to find the motivation to exercise, try to incorporate a few of them into your daily routine. It could just make the difference between infrequent exercise and a long-term fitness obsession.

Related article: 10 signs of a great workout