10 Workout Motivation Tricks That Really Work

Alexandra Duron

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When it comes to fitness, though it’s easy to start off strong, it’s even easier to slowly fall off the workout wagon. All it takes is one little excuse to derail your routine and stall your efforts. And with summer so close we can practically taste it, staying in shape is at the very top of our to do lists.

With that in mind, we enlisted help from two leading fitness experts: Rachel Buschert Vaziralli, New York City-based group fitness instructor and trainer and creator of F3 Face Fear Fitness, and Dean Pappous, Regional Senior Vice President of 24-Hour Fitness. Here, they share 10 tips on how to stay motivated—no matter what tempts you to drop the ball on your routine.

Pencil in your workouts: Instead of just telling yourself you’re going to hit the gym after work or school, make a point to schedule it into your life. If it’s on your calendar, in your phone, or on your computer, it’s easier to stick to your plan, advises Pappous.

Visualize: Put your mind to work to help you power through fitness challenges. “Close your eyes and picture yourself doing the things you want to be able to do—the more detailed the better,” says Buschert Vaziralli. “You must see it in your brain before it can happen in your body.”

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Grab a friend: “Make your gym session a social session,” suggests Pappous. As it turns out, one is definitely the loneliest number—especially if you need help in the encouragement department. Your solution: enlist a friend, boyfriend, family member, or anyone who can help you stay committed. Plus, research suggests that working out with a partner can help you lose more weight than going it alone. Talk about a win-win.

Have a mantra: If you think about almost any sports movie or show, you’ll notice one common thread: The athletes all tend to have a go-to saying that really pumps them up (“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” anyone?). Having a positive mantra — and repeating it when you need an extra boost — is something anyone can and should add to their routine. “If you say it enough, you will believe it, and you will become it,” says Buschert Vaziralli. So feel free to adopt a mantra from your favorite movie, search Pinterest for a few ideas, or craft your own. Buschert Vaziralli suggests something empowering like: “I am worth the effort” or “Not tomorrow, today.”

Try something new: Whether you’re an elliptical queen or a running machine, sticking to one type of workout is an easy way to slow down your results and get bored — fast. Try strength training one day, slipping into a group fitness class the next, and so on, adding any kind of variety to your routine is pretty clutch. “It’s important to keep your mind and body challenged,” says Pappous. “By switching things up at the gym, you’ll continue to see improvement and avoid a fitness plateau—results are always motivating!”

Track your progress: If there’s one thing that’s all about progress, it’s fitness. Whether you’re looking to lose some weight, training for an event, or trying to make a team, you work towards milestones—and keeping track of the work it takes (and the achievements you accomplish) to reach them could help keep you accountable and motivated, says Buschert Vaziralli. Luckily, thanks to the many apps and gadgets that are available, it’s easier than ever to log the miles you’ve run, the reps you’ve completed, and basically any component of your fitness routine.

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Turn up the tunes: Jamming out is totally encouraged when you’re getting your sweat on (and in general, for that matter). Think of your playlist as a way to fuel your workout and your drive. Not only can upbeat music inspire you to get to the gym, but it can also make you work out harder and stronger, says Pappous.

Try a shorter workout: Strapped for time? Totally fine. You can still squeeze in a sweat session, even if it’s just a 15-minute one. “A quick workout can still help you stay fit and on track,” says Pappous. To get the most out of your limited time, he suggests interval training. This kind of fast-paced workout can help you burn more calories and improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, all while getting you in and out of the gym faster.

Sign up for an event: Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran at your sport of choice, challenging yourself to complete a race will help keep you motivated and moving forward with your goals. “It keeps you on track, keeps you accountable, and when you finally complete the event, you are actually rewarded with a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” says Buschert Vaziralli. “The getting in shape part will happen along the way.”

Rest easy: Going full-throttle seven days a week isn’t your best bet. In fact, overtraining can lead to burnout, injuries, and even anxiety. Your body needs time to recover, and doing so can help keep you on track, says Pappous. Just as you would schedule your workouts, make a point to pencil in two rest days, he suggests. Consider your rest days the perfect excuse to book a massage, do some light stretching, or just kick back and relax.

Image via Lear Miller Photo/Getty Images

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