When you’ve got health and fitness goals you want to achieve, you’ve got to know how to stay motivated to workout. Consistency with your workouts is crucial to success, and to achieve this, there are several factors that need to come together to make it all work for you. The following fitness motivation tips will set you up for success by helping you to identify where your challenges lie so that you can then take the necessary steps to drive yourself forward.
As a former personal trainer turned online fitness coach (with 20+ years of industry experience), I have noticed common themes when it comes to challenges around workout motivation. The fitness tips in this article have been chosen as part of an overall solution to those challenges.
Whether you want to lose weight, train for an event, or simply improve your health and wellness in general, I hope you gain value from these simple, yet effective, fitness motivation tips.
(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)
- 1. Workout motivation comes from within
- 2. Effective fitness and health motivation tips need clearly defined goals behind them
- 3. Working out motivation will come easier when you have the right plan and program for you
- 4. Get motivation to exercise by “starting small”
- 5. Get workout encouragement by having the right people around you
- 6. Track your progress
- 7. Set yourself some rewards
- 8. Prepare yourself to get motivated to work out
- More fitness motivation articles
1. Workout motivation comes from within
The ultimate form of exercise motivation is called ‘intrinsic motivation’, which is where you find a strong enough level of desire within yourself to take the actions you want to. If you’re lacking exercise motivation, the first step is to revisit your internal drivers. These are the deep-seated, important reasons behind why you wanted to get fitter and healthier in the first place.
Intrinsic motivation is the best type of motivation for exercise. Why? When it’s strong enough and has a clear emotional connection, it will ensure that you always want to prioritize exercise. This means you won’t need to rely as much on external factors to get the motivation to workout. Intrinsic motivation should also be focused on a long term solution, i.e. a gradual lifestyle change, rather than a quick fix.
If you’re unsure what your deep, important reasons are, ask yourself:
“Why do I want to achieve 10kg weight loss/make better healthy eating choices/[insert goal]?”
Then ask yourself again. When you have answered this question two or three times you’ll be getting closer to understanding your real motivation for fitness training.
Find out more about the importance of finding your intrinsic motivation and how to do it in “Fitness Goal Setting: The Importance of Knowing your Why”.
2. Effective fitness and health motivation tips need clearly defined goals behind them
My most highly recommended and important fitness motivation tips are the ones near the top of this post (including this one!). These tips require you to take a step back and check that you’ve started off on the right foot.
Once you understand your “why” behind wanting to get fitter and healthier, or achieve a specific goal, it’s important to make sure that your goals are clearly defined.
Your goals must be written in positive language. That means they explain what you DO want, rather than what you don’t want. They must be important to you personally. They’re not going to be so effective in helping you to feel motivated if they are based on what someone else wants.
Make sure your goals pass the SMARTER test and set yourself:
- A BHAG (big hairy audacious goal). Let’s say that this one is where you want to be with your health and fitness five years from now
- One or more long term goals (6-12 months from now)
- Medium term goals (3 months from now), which are clearly related to your long term goals
- Short term goals (4 weeks from now) as stepping stones to your medium term goals
- Weekly targets for the next 4 weeks
- Daily actions you will take
Once you have established your goals, write them down and pin them up somewhere you can read them regularly. You may even want to take this a step further by creating a vision board that inspires you to work out and make healthy choices.
3. Working out motivation will come easier when you have the right plan and program for you
Why do you think you don’t have enough motivation? Exercise should be enjoyable, as well as effective. The best workout plan is the one you enjoy enough to repeat often enough to get the results you want!
So take a step back and look at your exercise plan and program.
- Are you doing a type of exercise that you really don’t like?
- Does your program include exercises that just don’t feel “right”?
- Do you suspect that some of your progression levels aren’t a good fit for you (e.g. you’re really struggling through some exercises, or some are too easy)?
- Has your plan and program taken into consideration your preferences, lifestyle, and medical and exercise history?
- Do you have enough variety in your program to prevent boredom, and has your program been updated to keep it interesting and ensure that you’re making progress?
Overall, your plan and program should be individualized to suit your unique needs. Everyone can find exercise that they enjoy AND gets them the results they desire.
(Contact me to take the next step on your pathway to health and fitness success).
4. Get motivation to exercise by “starting small”
‘Starting small’ is one of the best fitness motivation tips around. It is also one of the best exercise tips for beginners.
A common problem with motivating yourself to exercise is that it just ‘sounds hard’. “It’s too much effort” or “it’ hurts too much” are thoughts that can arise.
The question of how to motivate yourself to get out the door to exercise is a big one. Some days it feels like it’s just too much of an effort and that you don’t have the energy levels or the willpower required for a workout. Or perhaps there are just too many other things you want to procrastinate with at work or at home!
On days like these, consider changing your mindset so that your exercise session doesn’t seem like such a big task. If you need motivation to exercise when tired and you were planning a run, start with a walk instead.
See how you feel after five minutes. If the answer is ‘energized’, you might decide to jog then. If it is ‘low on energy’ you might decide to continue walking or to turn around and head back, still benefiting from the fresh air you have had.
Exercise motivation can be made easy by taking one step forward at a time…
If your motivation is low but you had planned a walk just tell yourself to walk to the corner of the street. Or maybe just the letterbox if you’re having a really bad day! When you get there you can decide whether to continue. But don’t think about the time or the energy required to walk for 30 or 60 minutes.
Just tell yourself that you’ll walk to the next corner. And if you’re still feeling good then, you’ll think about the next corner. Fitness motivation tips like this are so simple, but you’ll just need to remind yourself of them when you’re having one of those ‘tough’ days.
Apply the “start small” principle to other types of exercise, and different situations
The “start small” principle can be applied to other types of exercise. For example, if an hour of resistance training is seeming like an arduous task, just start small! Do one exercise and then decide if you can do the next one.
When it’s a cold, dark winter’s day and you feel like you’ve got zero exercise motivation, make it as easy on yourself as possible! What is the easiest form of activity you could do? Could you:
- Bundle yourself up super warm and take a walk around the block? After this, you might decide to walk further, or just call it quits. In either case you will still be feeling better than if you hadn’t walked at all.
- Get up from your desk and do ten squats? The little energy boost you get from that may spur you on to continue.
You don’t need to think of an exercise session as an arduous task. It’s just ‘movement’ and you need to figure out what will get you moving. If that means sleeping in your exercise gear to prepare for a morning session, then do it!
Take a small step forward with your workout today and remember that a small workout is better than no workout at all.
5. Get workout encouragement by having the right people around you
Support is a crucial factor when it comes to motivation tips for exercise. Do the people around you help support and encourage you towards reaching your goals? If you don’t feel supported enough, think of ways you can spend more time with those who share your vision of a fitter, healthier lifestyle.
How to be motivated to work out by harnessing the power of exercise encouragement from others:
- Share your goals with friends and family members. This can help with accountability because you may feel more driven to do what you said you were going to do
- Join a support group where others are working towards health and fitness goals. If you’re a runner, consider your local running club. Another option is to join an online group where people are working towards fitness goals
- Some people feel more motivated when they work out with others. If this sounds like you, consider working out with a friend, or joining a group fitness class
Finding a fitness buddy is one of the best fitness motivation tips
As you already know, if you need motivation to get fit, then ultimately it will really need to come from inside you. You’ll need to have a clear reason for why it’s important to you.
However, finding a friend or three to exercise with can provide an amazing ‘kick-up-the-butt’ when it comes to successfully carrying out a personal fitness plan.
It’s an especially important consideration if you are new to exercise and are looking for ways to make fitness a regular part of your lifestyle.
How a Training Buddy helps with motivation to be fit
Motivation for fitness through accountability
Accountability is one of the best motivational methods around. If you arrange to meet a friend at the gym, chances are that you’re not going to let them down. If you can just get yourself to start moving, it is likely that you will continue, at least with that particular exercise session.
Chances are that you’re not going to let your workout buddy down. Once you’re ready to start your workout, it will be easier with someone to push you along.
(The bottom line: just “show up”. It’s the hardest part. The rest will follow).
Inspiration to get fit is easier when you’re having fun
Although your primary objective may be to get a great workout, you can have a lot of fun with your workout training partner. This can make the workout feel more enjoyable. It’s easier to get out of a rut because you’ll probably try different types of workouts than you’d do by yourself.
You can chat, offload frustrations from the day and do interactive exercises or play games as part of your workout. (Yes, ‘play’ can still make you sweat!) For motivation to exercise when tired, call your workout buddy, and have some fun!
Get more gym motivation and health motivation in general when you encourage and challenge each other
When you have a friend to meet at the gym (or another workout location), the workouts themselves can feel like they go faster with someone else there to push you along. If they’re making the effort to get moving it can help you to realize that you can do it too!
Even better (as the research section below implies), find yourself a workout buddy who is a little bit fitter than you are. This can provide the potential to boost your workout performance even more!
What does the research say about having a workout buddy for fitness motivation?
Several studies have found a positive correlation between aspects of motivation for fitness and working out with a buddy.
Increased motivation with a virtual workout buddy
One very interesting study has shown that boost in workout motivation doesn’t necessarily need to be with a face-to-face training buddy! The study consisted of 58 females who were randomly assigned one of three conditions. The exercise was done with a VIRTUAL training partner for a series of cardio workouts on a stationary bike. These were the three conditions:
- Carrying out the cardio workout alongside another person, independently (virtually)
- Exercising alongside a person who was fitter than them (virtually). In this condition performance was determined by whoever stopped exercising first
- Doing the cardio workout alone
The results showed that those who exercised with a virtual partner who was fitter than them (condition two above) exercised for a significantly longer period of time than those in the other two groups.
The outcomes of this study have been linked to a concept called the “Kohler effect”. This essentially means that no one wants to be the weakest link in the group (or the ‘pair’ in this instance).
More evidence that workout out with a buddy may increase exercise performance
Another study investigated exercise performance when working out with a buddy and made similar correlations. Those who worked out with someone who was fitter than them worked out harder than those who worked out by themself, or with someone less fit than them.
Other research supports the idea that exercising with a buddy can help you workout for longer. This may be especially so if your workout partner is emotionally supportive.
Research on training with a partner to boost weight loss, reduce stress and enhance mood
Studies show that social support can improve weight loss results. There are many ways that you could enlist social support if you’re aiming to lose weight. Finding a training buddy could be one of them.
Ultimately, your personality, preferences, and the person you choose as a training buddy all need to be considered. They will all be contributing factors as to whether you’re going to have more motivation to workout with a training buddy at your side. If you’re really struggling with a lack of motivation to exercise, the research suggests that a training partner could be a very worthwhile consideration.
Is it time for the ultimate accountability buddy?
If your budget allows, find yourself the ultimate accountability buddy and invest in a personal trainer. Small group training sessions are usually available to reduce costs. A good personal trainer will help you develop and implement a plan that includes sustainable, healthy habits. Alternatively, you could invest in an online health and fitness coach.
Remember that you don’t need to be in this alone.
[Find out more about the differences between a personal trainer and a fitness coach in “Why use a holistic health practitioner and online fitness coach?”]
6. Track your progress
Another one of my favorite motivational exercise tips is to track your progress. When you take note of all the positive changes that have occurred since you’ve started exercising regularly, it will help you to realize that you’re on the right track. This will act as an internal driver to push you forward so you can continue on your journey.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of what you’ve achieved. The tendency is often to focus on where you’ve fallen short. Perhaps you haven’t lost weight as quickly as you had hoped, or it’s taking way longer than you thought to be able to do your first full push up?
If you have been exercising regularly, the chances are that you’ve achieved way more than you realize. Write down some of the positive actions you have taken, and the improvements you have noticed so far. Examples could include feeling more energetic in the mornings, making healthier food choices, and keeping your stress under control.
How to track your progress
Use an online system, or simply write in an old-fashioned journal. There are lots of apps available that are fantastic at tracking your progress in different areas of health. For example, the top-rated FIIT home workout app records all the classes you have completed and your cumulative exercise time. If you have a compatible device, you can also track your heart rate, calorie burn, and more!
Decide on whether you will commit to tracking your progress on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (or all three). Some examples of what to track include:
- Exercise completed. If you want to, you can include specific details like distances covered, or weights lifted
- What went well
- What didn’t go well
- Anything you will do differently tomorrow
- Number of sessions completed and what they were
- What did and didn’t go well
- Targets for the following week
- Revisit goals. Check they are still the same, and if not, adjust your plan accordingly
- Barriers/challenges that came up during the month
- Things that went well and things that didn’t
- What you have achieved in the previous month (e.g. progress towards an aesthetic goal or an increase in speed or duration of cardio workouts)
- What you will keep doing and what you will do differently next month
The FREE habit tracker template below is a very useful took that could help you in this space.
7. Set yourself some rewards
Rewards work when they’re based on creating habits and when they motivate you to continue. You might choose to set yourself a simple reward after each exercise session to help create a positive association with working out. This helps to tell your brain that it’s a good idea to keep working out!
Be careful about using food as a reward after your workout. You should be using food as a method to refuel after your workout and you should always feel good about filling your body with nourishing food. It’s possible however, to set yourself a healthy food reward that you reserve especially for after your workouts.
You can also think of other things that nourish you and will help establish a positive connection with your workouts. For example, take a nice relaxing bath at the end of every week that you complete all your workout sessions.
Maybe you’re wondering whether rewards have their place in your arsenal of workout motivation tips? They absolutely can serve an important purpose and be part of your extrinsic motivation toolkit.
Many people like to set rewards for achieving short, medium, and long term fitness goals. The rewards you choose will be based on what is important to you. Some examples include new workout clothes (which might help you to feel motivated when you see how awesome you look in them!), fitness equipment, or a fun day out or weekend away.
[Check out my favorite fitness equipment in the kit below for some practical ideas for rewards].
8. Prepare yourself to get motivated to work out
Think of things you can do that will help you to prepare for your workout and be motivated to do it. These will vary from person to person, based on preferences. Some ideas that may help you in this space include:
- Prepare for your workout the night before. Pack your workout clothes and a healthy post-workout snack so you’re all ready to go
- Consider working out first thing in the morning before there’s time for anything else to get in the way and cause you to procrastinate
- Plan to work out at the time of day when you feel most motivated and energetic
- If you enjoy workout out to music, get an inspiring workout playlist ready to go. Change it up regularly to keep it interesting
- Listen to music that you find motivating, or an inspirational podcast on your way to the gym
- Write down some positive workout affirmations that resonate with you and help you to feel inspired. This is one of my highly recommended motivational exercises. Read your affirmations out loud a few times each day to help you carve out a positive workout mindset
More fitness motivation articles
If you’d like more fitness motivation tips, check out my goals and motivation blog category. The next post I’d recommend you check out is all about long term goal success. You’ll learn about inspired action, personal accountability, and how to remove worry and self-doubt.
Do you still want more fitness motivation tips for your workouts? You might like to check out these awesome fitness motivation quotes.
You can also watch a full-length seminar I presented several years ago about fitness motivation tips. Click on the video below to watch it or bookmark it for later. While you’re there, make sure you like, comment, subscribe, and click on the bell button so that you get notified when I post other videos like these.
Work 1 on 1 with me for some “next level” fitness coach motivation! I’ll help you figure out your personal motivations for fitness and together we’ll harness these into an action plan!
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