When it comes training, we tend to like the results a lot more than the process. Guest blogger Olivier Poirier-Leroy explains how to build a workout routine that will last.
The January hordes have already begun to thin out at local gyms. Familiar faces are coming back into focus as many of the New Year’s resolution people fade away.
Training consistency is the key to long term success. And that’s where many people come up short. Making exercise a regular habit is a real struggle. The problem is almost universal.
Whether your goal is to master your bench press form, improve your front squat, or simply miss fewer workouts this year, here are a few ways to make the routine stick.
Make starting your workout the easiest thing you will do all day long.
Take one step at a time. Avoid lump-sum thinking that leaves you dreading all of the effort that will be required to do the whole thing. Instead, think about the effort required:
- to drive to the gym
- to put on your workout clothes
- to do a five minute warm up
Break things down. When you make the goal the thing before the goal, things become easier and less intimidating.
Start smaller every time you have to restart.
There will be misfires on your journey to finding a routine that truly sticks. The first attempt at anything rarely works out, so why should making working out a habit be any different?
If you find yourself going all-out for a few days or weeks and then briskly falling off, start over with a cooler head and smaller expectations. Remember: the goal, above all else, is improved training consistency.
What are your excuses for avoiding going to the gym? What are the things that pop up, over and over again?
If you are like me, you might put off your workout until the end of the day. Solution: work out in the morning.
Or you might expect too much of yourself, setting yourself up for disappointment. Solution: lower expectations.
Here’s one way to cope….
Make your goal driving to the gym.
Habit-creation is tough, especially when it comes to a behavior as complex and requiring as much willpower as working out.
How many times have you gone to the gym and done half a workout? Probably never, right? Once you get going, you complete some sort of workout. Sure, it might not always be pretty, but generally the workout gets done.
We can’t always control how great/crappy our workout will be, but we can always complete the easy task of driving to the gym. Or pedaling down the block. Or running that first 100m.
If your goal is to wake up and run for 100m each morning, that is a much easier habit to build than, “I am going to wake up and run 10k every day.”
Make your workout routine kick off on something laughably small. When you need to be 100% fired up to make it to the gym you have a problem, because motivation is fleeting and it is fickle. Some days you have it. Others, not so much.
Design your workout routine so that you can start a workout even on the days where your motivation is at an all-time low.
Make your fitness goal walking through the doors of the gym, and that’s it. No motivation required.
Pick things you actually enjoy doing in the gym.
Seems blatantly obvious, but it’s still worth saying: your workouts don’t to be nothing but of exercises you hate doing.
If you love running, run. If you love powerlifting, do it. If you like going to the park and running around with your dog for an hour, do that.
When it comes to performing consistent exercise something is always better than nothing, and something you like is always better than something.
Mind your surroundings.
Our environment has a remarkable way of dictating our behaviors. Whether we realize it or not, the cues and triggers and even the people we surround ourselves with color our decisions and influence whether we can make that new ritual stick.
Some easy ways to “hack” your environment include:
- Laying out your gym gear on the floor beside your bed before you pass out.
- Carrying a water bottle with you at all times to get more water in ya.
- Spend more time with people who have similar fitness goals as you.
- Have pre-made (convenient!) healthy snacks for those moments when you get violent hunger pangs.
Moving beyond existing behaviors is tough. But you can make it easier. Manipulate your environment to help the change along. You’ll develop healthy new habits as you travel the road to consistency that leads to success.
About the Author:
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is an entrepreneur, athlete, and writer. He’s also kinda tall. He writes over at YourWorkoutBook.com.