Avid gym goers groan when they pull up to their favorite studio in January—it’s always packed because the New Year’s resolution sign-ups are fully on board. Fortunately for the gym rats, this doesn’t last long. Usually, by the end of February, the gym is back to its original rhythm.
Sticking to a workout schedule isn’t easy, especially if it’s new for you. As with business startups, the vast majority of new gym goers fail. Sometimes it happens over and over again. However, there are tricks for bucking this trend. Just like you look for available resources to help with other health matters, make the most of the tools available for your new healthy lifestyle.
Here are six ways to make your workouts stick:
- Workout when you most feel like it. This sounds like obvious advice, but it’s surprising how many people think they “need” to get up at 5 a.m. even though they have the most energy for working out at night. By taking advantage of the hour when you have the most time and energy, you’re more likely to continue working out. It doesn’t matter if some studies say a certain time is best—the best time is the time you’ll do it.
- Understand you don’t have to do it all at once. Yes, you can get into a better fat burning zone if you do cardio for at least 20 minutes at a stretch, but what’s more important is simply getting it in. If you want to bike 15 minutes to work, go on a 10 minute run at lunch, and end the day with 20 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym, it all counts.
- Reward yourself in a healthy manner. There are many studies that show fasted workouts are very effective. Plus, you also need to feed your muscles after strength training. If you want to workout in the morning (or any time) and know that you have a healthy treat waiting for you afterwards, you’re more likely to power through so you can get to the reward. Just make sure that the reward is healthy. It doesn’t have to be food-based. Maybe your reward is a session in the sauna after a workout.
- Keep trying workouts until you find what you love. Running isn’t for everyone, and neither is Zumba. That’s okay, because you’re going to stick with an activity you actually enjoy. Try urban hiking, an adult swim class, salsa dancing, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Not only will this keep things interesting and help you find a workout that resonates with you, it’s also healthier for you. Our bodies adapt quickly to workouts, and your body wants a change.
- Pick reasonable goals. You’re not going to go from couch potato to lifting five days per week and running 30 miles in a week. It’s not only dangerous and unrealistic, but it’s going to ensure immediate burnout. There is such a thing as working out too much, but the majority of Americans aren’t at risk. Instead, slowly increase workouts—and know that length isn’t the only factor you can change. You can increase workouts by intensity, too.
- Work out with other people. It’s well-known that we feel more responsible about working out when we do it with a friend or group. You help keep each other accountable, and we’ll show up when we know others are counting on us. Even better, working out with others is more fun. You can make new friends, motivate each other, or find a way to re-connect with friends when life feels otherwise too busy.
Know that there will be slips and times that you miss your workouts. That’s okay, because what matters is doing better the next day.