If you are determined to make 2016 the year you finally reach your fitness goals, you're going to need some powerful and lasting motivation. No matter your goal—lose weight, put on muscle mass, or establish healthy behaviors—you're going to encounter some challenging days.
On those tough days, you have a choice: You can either keep your chin up and move forward, or you can quit. Unfortunately, the tendency for most people is the latter option. Just three weeks into those healthy lifestyle changes, many of us lose steam and start reverting back to our old habits. By the summer months, those January fitness goals are usually nothing more than a distant memory.
Don't become another sad statistic! With the right motivational tricks, you can be sure you never get knocked off track. Here are 20 ways to stay motivated in 2016!
1. Take Progress Photos
Many of us are visually motivated. By taking weekly or monthly progress photos—and uploading them to our free online community, BodySpace—you'll be able to see the amazing changes that sticking to a healthy exercise and meal plan can make!
By looking for those changes and celebrating them every few weeks, you'll never run out of motivation to keep going. Through photos, you'll be able to see just how far you've come and how commitment and consistency will continue to help you change.
2. Find A Workout Buddy
If you've always gone to the gym alone, now might be the time to get yourself a training buddy. Not only will this person be there to celebrate when you hit that personal record, but they can spot you when you're stuck in a tough lift, or cheer you through those final sets of high-intensity cardio.
Most importantly, knowing that your partner is depending on you to show up will make you think twice about skipping your workout. Having someone to hold you accountable could be just the motivation you need to finally achieve your fitness goals.
3. Hire A Trainer
If you're a beginner, fitness can be overwhelming and difficult. If you're not accustomed to exercising, you may feel nervous about trying new things and may not have the first clue as to what program will best help you meet your goals.
One of the best ways to combat fitness fear is to hire a personal trainer. A good trainer will walk you through achievable goals, show you how to perform exercises, and customize a workout just for you. Some personal trainers can also help you develop a sound nutrition program to support all the work you do in the gym.
A trainer can also serve as an excellent motivational tool. They can provide emotional support when you need it and help you see positive changes when you don't feel so great.
4. Try A New Training Method
Sometimes, all you need is a little change in your routine to see new results. If you've been performing the same workouts with the same sets, reps, and exercise equipment for an extended period of time, it's time to mix things up. Switch the order of your exercises, the set-and-rep scheme, or even which days during the week you work out.
Your body is a highly adaptive machine; if you don't continually challenge it in new ways, your progress can easily stall. Making changes to your workout plan every few weeks can have a positive impact on your workouts and your muscle growth or fat loss.
A new training method is also a great way to break up the mental monotony of training, helping you stay mentally engaged in your fitness. When you're mentally engaged in each session, you're more likely to be giving 100 percent effort.
5. Take Part In A Transformation Challenge
Another great way to keep your motivation up is to take part in a transformation challenge. Bodybuilding.com is home to some amazing transformation challenges in our Transform for Life series. Sign up for the next one, and earn bragging rights and prizes!
Although the cash prize certainly doesn't hurt, signing up for a challenge will surround you with other people looking to make positive changes in their body. Having a strong community can help increase your own excitement for the process.
6. Take Your Workouts Outdoors
It's no lie: Sometimes the gym can feel like a dungeon. When those four walls and rubber mats start to feel constricting, take your workouts outside! Go for a run around your neighborhood, consider an outdoor boot-camp class, or even hit the nearest playground for a fun workout.
The change of scenery and fresh air can combat boredom and maybe inspire you to try a half-marathon or triathlon!
7. Visualize Success
When your motivation starts to lag, it may mean you've lost sight of your end goal. When that happens, take a look at your "before" photo, then visualize how you want to look, what you want to lift, or how you want to feel at the end of your goal.
To "see" yourself in this position, find somewhere quiet to sit or lie down and spend 5-10 minutes picturing yourself reaching your end goal. How does it feel? What's changed in your life? Try your best to really be in that moment.
Taking a few moments to visualize your success once or twice per week can help keep you focused on what you're spending so much time and energy working toward.
8. Train In The Morning
It's a known fact that life gets in the way. Your busy schedule, obligations, and tiny daily issues can build up to a heap big enough to keep you from your workout. If that sounds familiar, figuring out a smarter time to train is your best bet for success.
Moving your workouts to the early morning hours might be your best option. If you can get it done before anything else gets in the way, you'll never have an excuse to miss a workout.
If getting to the gym in the morning is an impossibility, consider waking up 30 minutes sooner and performing a quick circuit workout in your basement or going outside for a 20-minute HIIT session.
You'll feel great heading off to work knowing that you've already done something positive for your body.
9. Take A Class
Another excellent way to bring a change of pace to your workout sessions is to sign up for a group fitness class. Even the most hardcore, lone-wolf gym-goers can find new energy, motivation, and fun with an occasional spinning, CrossFit, or yoga class. Do some research—there's bound to be a style you enjoy and reap benefits from.
Use these group classes to complement your usual workout program whenever you feel like you want something a little different. These classes can also bring a social element into your workout program, which can be encouraging and fun. Like most things, fitness is more fun with friends.
10. Join A Fitness Group
Not into group classes? It may still be beneficial for you to find a community of like-minded people. Whether this community is a running group or simply a gathering of fellow gym-goers who come together every so often to talk fitness, bringing social support into your life is important.
The more support you have, the more likely it is you'll stay the course. If there are no groups in your area, try an online community. You can find other hard-working folks on BodySpace. Use it to surround yourself with positivity to stay motivated.
11. Create Your Own Home Gym
You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a home gym. However, investing some money into purchasing home gym equipment can be a great way to stick to your goals. Even with an insane schedule, you can still find 20-30 minutes to train in your own home.
You don't even need much space to have your own home gym. All you need for a complete session is a pair of dumbbells, an exercise mat, and possibly an exercise ball. If you really like training at home, and have the space, you can start building a more complete gym.
12. Download A New Playlist
Find yourself some new music! It's amazing how songs can motivate and encourage you through a tough workout. If you're always listening to the same tunes, you may start to just ignore them instead of feeling motivated by them.
Go through some old songs you may have forgotten about over the years, or hunt down some new music you've never heard before. Either way, having great tunes in your ears as you train can do nothing but help!
13. Buy New Gym Gear
What's more motivational than new shoes or new gym duds? There's no sense in wasting money on equipment you'll never use. Treat yourself to new shoes, a new sports bra, or even that weight belt you've been eyeing!
14. Try A New Gym
Seeing the same people at the same time in the same place can get exhausting. For a change of pace, visit a new gym! Try new equipment, meet new people, and see what other options a new gym may afford you. Purchasing a guest pass somewhere fresh may help you hit that PR you've been working toward or bring new life to your stale routine.
15. Set Daily Goals
You already know the importance of setting short- and long-term goals, but if you need an extra motivational boost, try setting daily microgoals.
When you wake up each morning, set an objective to achieve, and write it down. Your goal can be anything you want, provided it's something you can achieve that day. You can try to add 5 pounds to your last set of bench press, do one more rep on your squats, or spend 10 more minutes doing cardio. Whatever the case, set a goal that motivates you!
By setting a daily goal, you can give each day a purpose. And because each day has purpose, you'll be far more likely to show up ready to reach that goal. Each time you hit one of those daily goals, your motivation and belief that you really can achieve those goals will go through the roof!
16. Track Your Stats
If it matters, it's worth measuring! Measure the circumference of your shoulders, chest, arms, waist, hips, and legs, and then track how those body parts are growing or shrinking to keep yourself invested in your own development. You can also keep track of your body-fat percentage.
You can also track your progress based on your performance. Keep a record of how much weight you can lift for one rep and how many reps you can do with a specific amount of weight. Watching yourself gain strength and improve performance can be incredibly motivating and help you realize just how much all that hard work is paying off.
Once again, BodySpace can make tracking easy and offers a place you can record all your stats over time.
17. Set Smart Rewards
Setting goals is critical, but sometimes goals aren't enough. To really get motivated, you may also need to schedule a couple of rewards to go along with them!
This reward could be as simple as an evening out at your favorite restaurant with your significant other, or as big as a week-long vacation somewhere warm. Choose a reward that's within your reach—both financially and realistically—and that you feel is valid for the amount of effort you put into reaching your goal.
Then, hold yourself accountable. When you reach your goal, give yourself the reward! The trick is to avoid rewarding yourself if you do not reach the goal. So, don't plan that vacation until you've already achieved what you set out to do.
18. Take A Break
If you've tried a few of these motivation strategies and still find yourself struggling to get into the gym, you might just need a break! At times, the best way to get motivated is to give your body a little rest and recuperation.
Giving yourself a week or so of recovery time can decrease your fatigue and help your body adapt to the tough love you've been giving it. Rest, relax, and recover, but don't let that week turn into a month-long hiatus!
19. Try A Pre-Workout Supplement
Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients like caffeine and B vitamins to help you feel energized, focused, and ready for a tough workout. Including one in your pre-workout regimen can be a great way to boost your motivation to train!
Although a pre-workout supplement is not going to do the work for you, it may mean that you can push harder during training sessions. If you can increase the intensity of your workouts, you're probably looking at greater overall progress!
There's no better motivation than seeing good results!
20. Try New Exercises
New exercises can be fun and challenging, so don't be afraid to change out the exercises in your workout routine every so often. For instance, if you normally back squat, try the front squat. Or if you always do barbell rows, try single-arm dumbbell rows.
Furthermore, if you always use the same equipment, start looking around for alternatives. Swap in some kettlebell movements, for example. Or, instead of using free weights for every exercise, try the cables.
Little changes like this can make a big difference in your motivation level and the amount of progress you see. Remember, your body and your mind need variation, or they'll both check out. Shock your body with something new, and you'll be surprised at the results!