Get motivated to work out with these 6 trainer-approved tips
These simple tips will help you actually enjoy exercising.
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Whether you’re going for a run, lifting at the gym, or heading to a spin class, anyone who has ever started a fitness routine knows that sometimes getting up and moving can be the hardest part of your workout.
Getting and staying jazzed about exercise isn’t always easy. But there’s plenty you can do to psych yourself up to enjoy your workouts more and reach your goals. That can mean getting some new equipment, changing up your workout routine, or just realigning your mindset. Can’t seem to make yourself get to the gym (or the yoga mat in your living room)? We talked to some trainers for tips on how to get motivated to work out.
Set doable fitness goals
Jillian Lorenz, co-founder and co-CEO of The Barre Code and NASM-certified trainer, says setting small, achievable goals instead of large aesthetic ones (like getting six-pack abs in a month) can help you stay inspired and achieve more.
“People tend to set lofty fitness goals and get fixated on achieving the ‘end’ result when instead, you should think of the small, daily goals that can help get to the big goal,” Lorenz advises. “With smaller goals, it helps you to stay consistent and makes the big goal seem less overwhelming. It’s very important to create a balanced, healthy lifestyle for yourself by setting small goals, and celebrating the mini milestones in between.”
For a weight-related goal, using a smart scale can help you track your progress and stay motivated through daily or weekly weigh-ins. We’ve tested a lot and think the Renpho ES-CS20M Smart Bluetooth Body Fat Scale is the best option out there. It’s relatively inexpensive and delivered consistent results and felt easy and intuitive to use in tests.
But there are plenty of other reasons to exercise besides losing or gaining weight. Other incentives may be to move more, run longer, or get stronger—in that case, it may be worth investing in a fitness tracker. Not only do they track your progress, fitness trackers and smartwatches also automatically give you badges for reaching certain milestones each day, such as hitting 10,000 steps with the Fitbit or reaching your desired workout minutes with the Apple Watch, which gives you something to work toward on the daily. We recommend the Fitbit Charge 5 for its slim design, long battery life, and ability to track a range of activities. For an all-around smartwatch, which integrates your texts, emails, and other smartphone capabilities into fitness tracking wearables, nothing beats the Apple Watch Series 6. The Apple Watch’s ultra-customizable look, wide range of features (both health-related and as an extension of your phone), and updated technology make it our number one pick. If you don’t have an iPhone, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, which has a long battery life, can track both exercise and diet, and has helpful extra features like location tracking for your phone.
- Get the Renpho ES-CS20M Smart Bluetooth Body Fat Scale on Amazon for $25.49
- Get the Fitbit Charge 5 from Amazon for $178.50
- Get the Apple Watch Series 6 starting at $399
- Get the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 at Target starting at $179.99
Get workout clothes that make you want to move
Don’t underestimate the importance of a workout outfit that makes you feel good. Wearing something cute, comfy, and durable can make you excited to exercise and keep you comfortable throughout your workout.
We’re big fans of all things Athleta, from shorts to leggings to workout tops (and, of course, masks—the retailer makes our favorite one). The brand also has an impressive range of inclusive sizing, which comes in sizes XXS to 3X. We tested some of Athleta's plus-size items and found them to be just as supportive and stylish as its straight sizes. If you're not sure where to start, you can't go wrong with the Salutation Stash Pocket II 7/8 Tight, which Athleta dubs one of its “favorite black tights.” Customers agree—these leggings have more than 2,200 reviews and a 4.5-star rating from reviewers who extol its super-soft, sweat-wicking, and flattering fabric for yoga and other studio workouts. “This is my third pair!” one reviewer raves. “I'm so in love with Athleta. So soft! I even forget I'm wearing clothes sometimes.”
You can also try Academy Sports for workout staples such as the Adidas Essentials Fleece 3-Stripes Pants. Reviewers rave about how comfortable these sweats are, and say they’re also a warm option perfect for cool outdoor workouts.
- Get the Salutation Stash Pocket II 7/8 Tight from Athleta for $98
- Get the Adidas Women’s Essentials Fleece 3-Stripes Pants from Academy Sports starting at $27.00
- Get the Adidas Men’s Essentials Fleece 3-Stripes Pants from Academy Sports starting at $22.97
Find a workout you love
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears reminding: The key to working out consistently is finding a workout you enjoy. Dreading the exercise you’re doing makes waking up and doing it several times a week that much harder. And, sure, not everyone will love exercise, no matter how long you keep at it. But if you’re able to find something to like about it—even if it’s just the way you feel when you’re done—you’ll look forward to doing it. “If you find a type of training or activity that you really enjoy—barre, group training, yoga, etc.—keep on doing it. By doing an activity that makes you feel happy and confident, it’ll naturally become easier to incorporate into your lifestyle,” Lorenz says.
There’s no shortage of fitness programs out there, so it can take time to explore different options and find one you enjoy. One relatively low-stakes way to do this is by downloading a workout app. This allows you to explore different kinds of exercise at a low (or no) cost at home. We like Nike Training Club for its variety of workouts, from HIIT to yoga to strength training, and the quality of training it provides—it’s also totally free, which definitely helps. Once you’ve figured out a workout you like, you can seek out some in-person classes in the same style—or keep getting your sweat on at home.
If you’re looking to invest in some at-home equipment that seriously levels up the app experience, consider the Tempo Move, a connected workout system that uses AI-powered technology to give users feedback on their exercise form. The Move is a scaled-down version of our favorite workout mirror, the Tempo Studio, but instead of using its own screen to stream workouts, the system connects to your phone and uses its front-facing camera to analyze your movements while broadcasting your session to a TV or other HDMI-compatible screen. The Move comes with a cabinet to store two 7.5-pound dumbbells and weight plates to load the dumbbells up to 25 pounds each. Tempo offers a variety of workouts to choose from and has excellent classes and instructors that will get you excited to move.
Work out with a friend
A workout buddy can encourage you to stick to your goals and help get you moving when you just can’t seem to get out of bed—it’s much easier to ignore a push notification from an app than a text from an actual human who’s outside your house waiting to go on a run with you. “Whether it’s your best friend, a new friend, or even your spouse, having someone there to help keep you accountable and achieve fitness goals together can make all of the difference,” Lorenz says. “You’ll both be there to support one another, both mentally and physically, and most importantly, have fun!”
It can also help to have someone to talk to when you feel unmotivated. You will likely have some days when you feel discouraged, no matter what your goals are, and having someone hash it out with can help you stay positive.
Take rest days
Nothing will kill your motivation to workout faster than overexercising and burning yourself out—or worse, injuring yourself. Anna Victoria, creator of the Fit Body app, says rest days are essential to any workout routine.
She recommends alternating muscle groups throughout the week and avoiding working the same muscle group two days in a row to prevent overuse injuries. For example, you can work your upper body one day, legs the next, core the third, and take a rest on the fourth day. If you find that you are suffering from overuse injuries—which may be something like tendinitis or a stress fracture—listen to your body and take more recovery days.
There are plenty of ways to make your recovery day more effective and enjoyable. You could hop on a yoga mat and rest and relax with a restorative yoga session. Or, to speed up muscle recovery after a heavy lifting session, use a foam roller to ease soreness. We recommend the LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller because it provides a massage-like feeling that gets blood flowing to speed up recovery.
To get a bit more high-tech on your rest days, consider a massage gun. These provide the same myofascial release (form of massage that improves mobility and reduces pain) without having to crouch on the ground with a foam roller. The Theragun Elite massage gun is a great option—it comes with five attachments and has five speed settings so you can get an intense or gentle massage based on your needs that day. But one of the best aspects of the Theragun Elite is that it connects to the Therabody app, which offers preset recovery and warm-up sessions for different workouts, like running or cycling, and other concerns, such as sciatica or tech neck.
- Get the Lululemon 5mm Reversible Mat for $88
- Get the LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller on Amazon for $21.43
- Get the Therabody Theragun Elite for $399
It’s easier said than done, but staying positive throughout your fitness journey instead of trying to be perfect makes all the difference. Feeling guilty about a missed workout or slow progress can be counterproductive and prevent you from reaching some of your fitness goals. One of the best ways to achieve your fitness goals is to be realistic and accept what works for you, Victoria says. “Be realistic. If a workout program calls for six days a week but you know you can only commit to three days a week, don’t throw in the towel but don’t overextend yourself either,” she says. “See how you can fit those six sessions into [your three days], or simply drop a routine. Working out three days a week is better than none!”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.