Staying true to a workout out program can be tough. Let's face it, you're going to sweat, you're going to get sore ... you're going to work. But if you want the body, you have to do the time.
This doesn't mean spending hours in the gym every day, but it does mean consistently working out and working hard, which is something most people struggle with. Errands, obligations, social activities, and the million other excuses will always be there to thwart your workout adherence.
But you can fight back!
It starts with one missed workout, moves to a couple times a week, then moves to being absent more than actually working out. It's easy to come out of the gate strong, but what about a couple weeks in? What can you do to make sure your fire is burning as bright as it was the first day?
I'll tell you!
No. 1: Find Your Beat
Music sets the mood of movies, dates, concerts, and--you guessed it--even workouts.
One study published in the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport found a strong connection between music tempo and exercise intensity in a workout. Subjects jamming to music with a fast tempo experienced higher exercise intensity than those listening to music with a slower tempo.
Music also takes your mind off all the gruelling work you're doing, and keeps you in an upbeat mood. People who listen to music during training are more likely to exercise for a longer period of time and complete their entire workout. So turn up the jams when you need to break a sweat!
And hey, wouldn't you be excited to hit the gym if you knew Europe's "The Final Countdown" was on your iPod, just waiting to take your workout to 11?
No. 2: Get Social
According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, another factor that can positively influence devotion to your workouts is social support.
A workout buddy can keep you accountable about going to the gym, and then push you during the workout. Or sign up with a trainer--many people say one of the top reasons they stay consistent with their workouts and push hard in the gym is because of a trainer. You can also regularly attend any of the various fitness groups at a local gym like CrossFit, aerobics, yoga, dancing, or martial arts.
Just make sure your "social support" challenges you. Don't exercise with people who can't keep up! If you're a beginner, work your way up in intensity. Don't risk injury.
No. 3: A Goal For Every Workout
A lot of people focus on the long-term goal to either lose weight or build muscle. But this can cause one to really lose sight of the importance of each individual workout. And when you don't understand the importance of each workout, you're likely to skip one and become less devoted.
Overcome this by setting one specific goal for each workout. It could be something as simple as completing 10 reps for each set of bench press that day, or as big as trying to beat your 1-rep-max for squats.
Completing daily goals is important to increasing your self-efficacy--the belief in your own abilities--and a study in Preventative Medicine showed that self-efficacy is a huge factor in determining exercise adherence.
One goal can give any workout real purpose, and you'll find that the sum of all your individual goals will be one fabulous result!
No. 4: The Right Plan
A lot of people quit their workout plans because of one simple reason--the plan doesn't fit their lifestyle. In fact, a lot of people are too ambitious in the first few weeks, and commonly crash and burn from exhaustion. So if you're missing workouts due to fatigue, it's a good sign that your workouts are too intense, or that you don't have enough rest days.
Recovery is vital to success with any workout program, so look over your current set-up. After all, you're not in this to become a zombie, right?
Keep these tips in mind, and your workouts will become a source of empowerment, not a source of grief!
- Costas, I. et al. (2006). Relationship between exercise heart rate and music tempo preference. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Vol. 77, No. 2.
- Courtneya, K.S. et al. (1994). Enhancing Exercise Adherence in Middle-Aged Males and Females. Preventative Medicine. Vol. 23, Issue 4.
- Duncan, T.E. & McAuley, E. (1993). Social support and efficacy cognitions in exercise adherence: A latent growth curve analysis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Vol. 16, No. 2.
- James, J.A. (2001). Effects of music, television, and a combination entertainment system on distraction, exercise adherence, and physical output in adults. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. Vol. 33(3).