How To Motivate Myself To Exercise

Some days I’m fired up and some days it takes all the willpower and motivation I can find to exercise. Without knowing how to motivate myself, I probably wouldn’t exercise at all?

Sometimes we just find ourselves bored, uninterested, putting other things first, or just wondering how we ever got involved in this exercise habit in the first place? Over time I’ve developed a few methods to keep my workouts at the front of my schedule instead of trying to do it when I feel like it.

5 Simple Motivation Techniques

1) Variety

You’re no different than the rest of us. At some point, we all come to grips with the fact that our routine is – well – a routine? Routines are great for mindlessly getting through the same workout week after week. However, routines have some drawbacks?

  • Routines are motivation killers because they become boring
  • Your body becomes acclimated your workouts and stops responding. Instead, muscles learn to merely go through the motions with no new stress points to work for.
  • If you’re after weight loss or muscle mass, routines create plateaus. The plateaus are as far as you’ll go without changing something to diversify your exercise.

Here’s how I keep the gym from becoming routine:

  • It’s really easy to turn a gym workout into starting at one end of a row of machines and work your way through the day after day, and week after week. The machine set up in the gym I use is done in such a way that I can go through them in about 40 minutes and work every muscle in my body. But a much better way is to do upper body one trip and lower body the next trip. I like to do my indoor cardio on the days I work out my lower body on gym machines.
  • If you are using either machines or free weights exclusively: take the boredom and regularity out of your life by including the other one in your habitual procedures at the gym. I know some people who frown on using weight machines, but they are actually great for pinpointing muscles to work on.

Is your cardio boring?

No matter what your workout routine is, you really need to include cardio. You can do cardio at home with cardio equipment, simple jogging in place, running at the track or on the streets, jumping jacks, and the list goes on. Cardio strengthens your entire body, builds endurance, makes your heart and circulatory system strong and healthy, and is a must for losing and maintaining your weight. But like any exercise, you really need the motivation to keep after it.

  • If you are a runner, change the time of your your running schedule and change the place you’re running.
  • When I set one day a week for my own runs to be twice as far as normal that really keeps me motivated. Now I look at my daily run more like a training session for my Saturday runs.
  • Even though I do not listen to anything other than the dogs, and my feet striking the ground, you might consider a good set of earbuds for your phone and listen to motivational mp3s.
  • If you’re exercising on a treadmill at home, try moving the treadmill to a window or positioning a TV in front of it to stay inspired.

Motivating yourself mentally might be easier if you make up challenges for yourself that help move you out of your routines and comfort zones.

Friends exercising with kettleballs for motivation

2) Exercising With Friends

If you’re exercising by yourself, workouts get to be a drag pretty quickly even when you know how often you should be working out. When I’m down or coming up with a string of excuses to neglect my workout time: there’s nothing like a regular partner to get me moving.

On the days I’m having a difficult time thinking about exercising, my workout partner is always there to push me over the edge. In fact, sometimes he’s not really in the mood either, but our commitment keeps us going.

And working out with a friend also helps me stick to my personal goals and get over the plateaus that naturally arise.

3) Goals Are Made For Motivation

I consider the sole purpose of goal setting to be to keep me motivated, don’t you? The most important thing to remember about goal setting for your regime is to keep them realistic. Nothing will kill your motivation faster than not reaching unrealistic goals.

If you’ve been running 2 miles a couple of times a week, thinking you should be a marathoner next month isn’t real? The best goals require thinking them through before you start. Ask yourself these questions as you consider your goals:

  1. What do I intend to accomplish?
  2. Is this realistic and something I can do?
  3. When precisely do I intend to reach this goal?
  4. What will be my reward for achieving this surmountable task?

Goals unwritten aren’t usually goals at all, so do yourself a favor — make your goal minutely specific, write them on something, stick them somewhere you are reminded to look at them and review them every day.

4) Motivational Rewards Keep You Interested in Exercise Goals

Believe it or not, even the smallest promises of rewards to yourself will keep you going when all else fails. I think the size of your reward to yourself depends entirely on your own personality.

I’ve rewarded myself with a new book, while I’ve known other goal-setters to promise themselves a brand new recumbent bike for home use.

The 2 most important thing about using rewards for motivation is to do them like your goals. Write it down, or even better, pin a picture of it to the refrigerator door. You want to get yourself to visualizing the reward in your mind while you’re exercising.

This visualization technique will keep you inspired and help you off the couch when you would just as soon forget it.

5) Get Friends and Family to Motivate You to Success

Don’t be bashful about putting your exercise goals right out there in front of everyone you know. Telling people close to you exactly what you intend to accomplish will help motivate most people simply because they would rather not be known as a failure?

When you share your goals get as specific as possible about what you intend to accomplish, why, and how. I’ve even heard of people setting goals and promising a friend $100 if he didn’t accomplish what he set out to do.


Without knowing how to motivate myself my own workouts would quickly fall apart and become pretty hit and miss. And to tell you the truth hit and miss exercise for me never works because it quickly turns into none at all.

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