Stuck to the Couch? Use These Tips to Motivate Yourself to Work Out

October 16, 2019

We all have those days. You’re tired. And the last thing you want to do is get your sweat on. But if you do decide to stay put, you’re just left feeling guilty. 

So how do you motivate yourself to kick it into high (or, at least, higher) gear even when you’re not feeling it? We rounded up a handful of the best tried-and-true tips to motivate yourself to work out. 

Make it fun (and make sure it’s still fun).

What gets you pumped for a workout? Is it a class with your favorite instructor? Is it a bomb workout playlist or favorite podcast? Is it a super cute workout outfit? Whatever gets you into the groove, do it. You’re not going to do something on a regular basis if you hate it. 

And remember to check in with yourself regularly and stay flexible. Just because you loved spin classes two years ago doesn’t mean they’re still right for you. Don’t be afraid to change things up so until you find a type of exercise that you actually look forward to doing. 

Make it social. 

It’s hard to find the one, but a “swole mate” can make a huge difference in your ongoing motivation. When you don’t want to peel yourself off the couch, knowing you have a friend waiting for you at the gym, at the trailhead, or at your yoga studio gives you a huge push. You don’t want to let them down, do you? 

Plus, in addition to getting built-in accountability from your workout partner, you also get to add a little fun. Having someone to chat with when the workout gets boring or to commiserate with after an especially rough session is a whole lot more enjoyable than going it alone. 

Make it meaningful. 

Some people can motivate themselves to work out just for the heck of it. But your workout becomes a lot more rewarding when you know it’s moving you forward towards a goal. Expert consensus is that you should set two types of goals: major ones and micro ones. 

For major goals, think along the lines of New Year’s resolutions. These are big goals that will take you a while to achieve, like running a marathon, PRing at your next event, or losing a certain amount of weight. These goals can help you remember why you’re exercising.

But, because those major goals take time to achieve, you can start to lose steam on them after a while. That’s where your micro goals come in. Let’s say running a marathon was your big goal. You can break that into micro goals you can cross off your list one by one, like running a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon. Setting up these steps along the way — and enjoying the awesome feeling that comes with accomplishing them — can help you stay motivated. 

Make it rewarding. 

Yes, goals are huge in maintaining your focus and motivation to exercise. But, we’ll be honest, some days we just really don’t care about our goals. Absolutely, we’d love to beat our best time or feel super comfortable in that peak yoga pose. But,ugh, the work to get there just doesn’t sound enjoyable. 

When your goals themselves aren’t feeling rewarding, it’s okay to give yourself an alternate reward. But there is one caveat: make sure your reward doesn’t undo your workout and. A milkshake, for example, is not a good reward. Some quality rewards that will keep you on track include:

  • Listening to your favorite podcast only when you workout 
  • A long bath
  • A shopping spree at your favorite thrift store (or any store, if budget isn’t an issue)
  • Watching an episode of your favorite show guilt-free
  • Buying that piece of workout equipment you’ve been wanting, like new shoes or a foam roller
  • A massage

Make it easy.

Are all these tips not doing it for you? It might be time to scale back. Your lack of motivation could be your body begging for a break. So, instead of skipping your workout altogether, get moving but take it easy. Go for a relaxing walk, hit a gentle yoga class, or do a simple bodyweight workout in your living room. 

Just getting off the couch might be all you need to feel energized and you might just find you do a bigger workout than you’d initially planned. But even if you don’t, something is better than nothing. 

Now, pick a workout that sounds super fun, set a goal, text a friend, and crush it!


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