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After a long and exhausting work day, it’s perfectly understandable why exercising is at the very bottom of your to-do list (if it even makes an appearance!).

And – as the days turn into weeks, and eventually, months: the yoga mat and jump rope you bought when motivation was at an all-time high begin to collect dust.

But it doesn’t have to be this way: learning how to stick to a workout routine is probably easier than you imagine it to be.

But how?

Simple: by following the 12 simple and actionable tips below.

two girls training in gym

Buddy Up

When you have someone counting on you to make an appearance, you are infinitely less likely to cancel on a workout. Just think of the guilt you’d feel when you tell your friend you had to do a rain-check because your bed and glass of wine were calling out to you.

Other than the increased level of accountability, exercise becomes way more fun when you do it together with a friend!

You also get opportunities to try out new activities – can you imagine playing a game of tennis with yourself?

A study has shown that exercise is more enjoyable when performed together with someone else.

And the more you enjoy exercising?

The more likely it is that you will stick to a workout and diet plan you’ve agreed upon with your buddy.

Set Clear Goals

It is easier to stay motivated when you are clear about what you are trying to achieve. Maybe you’re aiming to lose 10 pounds by next month, or perhaps you’re trying to get 2 inches off your waist in three months – whatever it is, you should try your best to define it and write it down.

Yes, write it down: Science says you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals when you commit ink to paper!

How to stick to a workout plan for the long-term, you ask?

Make sure that the goals you set for yourself are sustainable and realistic.

I still remember the time I sought to lose 10 pounds in a week and failed miserably. The resulting disappointment prevented me from going to the gym for almost two weeks.

Never, ever follow in my over-ambitious footsteps if you want to stick to a workout plan for the long-term.

Snap Progress Pictures

It is not uncommon for people to fall off the fitness bandwagon when they see that the numbers on the scale have gone up, rather than down, after consistent effort in working out.

I used to feel so discouraged from the readings of the scale that I would stuff a whole bag of chips in my mouth: if I worked so hard and my weight hasn’t gone down, what’s the point, right?

But then I found out: the scale doesn’t tell the whole story.

While five pounds of muscle and five pounds of fat both weigh the same, muscle is more dense than fat and therefore takes up far less room. This is why a woman with more muscles on her frame looks ‘tighter’ than another who has less when they both weigh the same.

Progress pictures can, therefore, give you a more objective view on the transformation of your body, and keep you motivated to stick to a workout and diet plan.

woman exercising with resistance band

Baby Steps

Nobody attempts a marathon, or a 200 pounds deadlift on their very first day of working out: that would be suicide.

Doing too much too soon can lead to severe muscle aches and prevent you from working out for the rest of the week – so long, workout routine!

Always take it easy in the first few weeks when you – and your body – are still learning how to stick to a workout plan.

Do a quick jog around the neighborhood for starters, then start running greater distances when you find the sessions becoming too easy (and they will if you stay consistent!).

All About Fun

It goes without saying that the more fun a workout is, the more likely we’ll keep at it. Make sure you consciously include activities that you genuinely enjoy and look forward to doing in your exercise routine.

Bonus points if you can find exercise methods which make you forget that you’re even working out!

Sticking to a routine does not mean that you cannot try new things: even the most exciting workouts can start feeling stale like week-old bread after a while.

Keep your workouts fun by mixing it up occasionally: maybe join a dance class if you’ve never dared to.

Who knows, you might gain support from a whole new fitness community!

Lay It Out

A trick I use to get myself out of the house early in the morning for a run is to lay out all my workout clothes on my desk the night before.

This significantly reduces my urge to fall back into the comforts of my bed in my morning sleepy state since all the work has already been done: all I need to do is grab my gear, and go.

When you lay out your clothes the night before, you are not only relieving yourself of the need to pick out socks which match, you are also committing to the intention of working out.

This signaling of intention to your brain can do wonders in helping you stick to a workout and diet plan.

two athletic girls doing jump rope exercise

Dedicated Space

Working out at home is a great way to get fit without the financial burden of a gym membership. But as we all know: distractions are everywhere at home.

Wait: is that the TV I hear calling?

This is why you need to scope out a dedicated workout space in your home: it can be the spare bedroom, the basement, or even a part of the living room.

This is the time you retrieve your yoga mat and jump rope from the hidden depths of your storage space.

Visual cues are essential in your journey of learning how to stick to a workout plan: the sight of your exercise equipment out on display can serve as a potent reminder that you need to get your session in.

When you manage to dedicate some space for your workouts, you can also improve your exercises with some basic equipment. There are a lot of great options that won’t cost you a fortune and won’t take up much space.

Mini steppers, for example, will give you more workout options and can be easily used at home. The same goes for such things as fitness balls or yoga blocks.

Block Your Time

The most common excuse for not exercising is a lack of time.

But is it true?

We seem to have a lot of time for television and social networking.

Well, we do have time, and an easy way of preventing bypassing the psychological barrier of working out is to schedule it into your calendar.

Enter it into your computer or mobile phone as a repeat event – this shows up daily and serves as a reminder that you have set aside time to work out.

I’ve personally known of managers who’ve blocked their lunchtimes on work calendars to remind others that they’re not available for meetings then – they have to get their exercise in.

Now, if that isn’t dedication – I don’t know what is.

Meal Prep

Have you ever noticed how you magically got yourself to eat healthier after starting on a new exercise program? You’re not alone.

This is linked to the transfer effect, where the improvement in one area of your life triggers your desire to seek similar effects on another. In the above case, the enhancement in your fitness levels influenced your diet.

The reverse stands true: we can make use of this ‘transfer effect’ to influence our workout behavior by prepping healthy meals!

This tip allows you to stick to a workout and diet plan at the same time – what more can you ask for?

Appropriate Disincentives

Research has shown that we generally fear the pain of having something taken away from us more than we like the idea of gaining something.

How do we apply this concept in learning how to stick to a workout plan?

Well: I personally hand over a dollar to my training partner each time I fail to adhere to my workout plan. When it comes to punishment though, it has to be personalized: maybe you’re not comfortable parting ways with your hard-earned cash.

You have to decide what it is that you’d personally hate to lose – maybe an hour of Netflix?

Food and more exercise should never be used as a punishment though. This prevents the development of eating disorders and unhealthy mental associations related to exercise.

woman active exercise workout on street outdoor

Avoid Shiny Objects

Have you ever progressed on a training program till it was 50% done, then hopped onto another one, and another one without ever completing any of them entirely?

You have? I officially diagnose you with Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS).

I know, it got me too.

Until I realized that I would never see real progress until I stopped exploring new paths and possibilities to a fitter body, and committed to the current program.

There will always be a new way, a new plan, or a new supplement. But you have to finish the current one to assess its effectiveness fairly.

The easiest way to stick to a workout and diet plan is to keep going. Avoid new, shiny objects at all costs.

Get Some Help

A personal trainer probably knows a thing or two about how to stick to a workout plan.

And let’s face it: you won’t miss a workout when you’ve scheduled for a session with a personal trainer. That’s just a waste of money.

A capable and invested personal trainer will take the time to understand your fitness goals, and individualize the workout and nutrition plan to your needs.

And not only that:

Your personal trainer will count every rep, and push you harder than you would when you’re exercising alone. This means that you’ll see results way faster than if you tried to get fit on your own.

And as you know, the visible results can be incredibly motivating.

This will definitely spur you to adhere to the exercise and nutrition plan devised by your personal trainer.

To Sum It All Up

Phew – that was quite a lot of information, but I do hope the 12 tips have helped you learn how to stick to a workout routine.

Begin where you are, and keep going! You’ll eventually see a fitter version of you.

Did I miss out on any tips which can help a fellow fitness enthusiast out?

Or: do you have any personal experiences you’d like to share about your workout routine? Let me know in the comments section below – I’d love to know!

emma lynn

Hi, I’m Emma Lynn

I’m a proud mother of two wonderful children and a wife to a loving, affectionate husband. I enjoy exercise – yoga (yes, I teach yoga as well), running, and going to different fitness classes from time to time.

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