How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out (Even When You Really Don't Want To)

Fitness Tips

How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out (Even When You Really Don't Want To)

Some days are more difficult than others when it comes to motivating yourself to work out.

You may be tired from a long day at the office or exhausted after a poor night's sleep. When you're not in the mood to exercise, some of us will use almost any excuse to avoid going to the gym and stepping on the elliptical or going for a neighborhood run. But just how can you push yourself to work out when you really just want to watch a movie and put your feet up with a nice glass of wine?

Below are 7 strategies we’ve found particularly useful. Hopefully a few of them can help you break through the malaise to get through a workout, even on the most sedentary day.

Buy new exercise gear.

There's a concept called “production for use.” The idea is that when you produce — or in this case, buy — a product, you feel compelled to use it. A nice, new outfit can give you that little extra push when you feel like ditching your routine.

Put on your exercise gear.

Following on the previous tip, many people find it easier to follow through on their workouts when they've dressed the part. Sometimes that first step is the hardest thing to do. By changing into your gym clothes, your mind is telling your body it’s Go Time.

Tell yourself “only 10 minutes.”

Give yourself permission to shorten your workout. You’ll find that in the midst of it, going another 5 minutes… or 10… or 20... is immensely easier than initially believing you have to exercise for a half hour. A workout doesn't seem like such a chore when you think of it in digestible chunks.

Change your environment.

If you regularly run inside on a treadmill, consider changing your routine by going outside for a day. Or if you generally run outside, try a new path or neighborhood. It’s easy to become bored with a routine (after all, that’s what “routine” means), so keep it fresh by infusing a little variety.

Get sporty.

Like changing your environment, a fresh sport or area of exercise can push you to get moving. Look into various leagues and activities. Competition can be a powerful tool when it comes to motivation.

Choose a training buddy.

This may be the most powerful and motivating tip. A training buddy will help you stick to a schedule — and inevitably when you want to skip some days, your buddy will convince you to follow through on the regimen, and when they want to cancel, you can likewise help them.


Also known by its less pleasant term of “bribery,” allowing yourself a treat after exercise is highly effective.

No, you're not a dog, but think of the Pavlov’s dogs example. When you expect a certain reward after some stimulus, you are more likely to act on that stimulus. Whether it’s watching a favorite show or playing a round of Kwazy Cupcakes, incentivizing your workout can make the difference between getting going and sitting on the sofa.

Remember, a healthy life is a process. Don’t beat yourself up for occasionally falling off the fitness wagon — just make sure to get back on it.