Out of the (probably) millions of Americans who set one of their New Year’s resolutions as ‘get in shape’ or ‘go to the gym’, how many of them actually end up following through with that for the entire year? Or even longer? My first semester of college I wanted to take advantage of the gym on campus and told myself I would finally get in shape. While I definitely didn’t start out very consistent, I’ve found tips over time that have helped me make sure I am consistently training – and always enjoying it:
- Give yourself a training schedule
Whether this is to work towards a long term goal, just a weekly training split, or both, having a training schedule gives structure to your workouts as well as your general gym schedule so you will feel more pushed to never miss a session. Keep in mind you should still be somewhat flexible (don’t beat yourself up if you were sick one day and had to miss a workout), but it’s important to have some kind of structure in your training.
- Your workouts don’t have to be long to be effective
People think that you need to spend hours at the gym in order for it to actually do something. I see a lot of people warming up with a whole thirty minutes of cardio, and in reality you could easily get in a whole sweaty weight session done in that amount of time. If you train smart, your workouts can be less than an hour long and still be extremely effective.
- Figure out when it’s convenient for you to go
I always go to the gym on the way back from work (over the summer) or after/between classes (at school). This way, I don’t end up getting lazy, laying in bed, and pushing my workout to the next day. This is also something you can determine your training schedule/split off of. While I didn’t decide on my split because of convenience, my current training split happens to be much more convenient for me (training full body, every other day).
- Keep yourself motivated and hold yourself accountable
While extrinsic motivation can be very effective at first, it’s intrinsic motivation that’s going to keep you going for a long time. This could come from finding goals to work towards or admiring progress that you make. Just find your source of intrinsic motivation and keep yourself accountable.
- Decide what you like doing at the gym
There are many different kinds of exercises you can do depending on your goal. Whether it’s HIIT, weights, plyometrics, etc., or a combination of a bunch, if you find something you enjoy, you’re going to want to go to the gym more to do it. If you’ve been doing something that you dread, you’re not going to want to go to the gym. So switch it up, because there’s no one stopping you from changing it to something you actually like doing.
- Get the most out of every session
Not every gym session is going to feel great, and some are going to feel way better than others. But try not to slack off on your workout or even just give up and leave. Getting the most out of every session has been so important to me because bad sessions are pretty discouraging. I try not to have too many (especially in a row), so I’m still motivated to make the next one better.
- Listen to your body
It’s very easy to overtrain, and Mike and I know from personal experience. If you know your body isn’t ready to handle a heavy session one day, then don’t do it and either just take a rest day or find an alternative. It’s not worth having to drastically slow down your training because you burnt out. And it’s also not very fun to train when your body doesn’t feel great either.
- Make it sustainable
When it comes to health and fitness, consistency is one of the most important things. The same way your body can’t be in a caloric deficit forever, you can’t overtrain forever too. If you’re training heavy 7 days a week, you’re most likely going to burn out sooner or later, so it’s important to find something that’s sustainable and will keep you motivated for a long long time.
These are some things that have not only gotten me to go to the gym consistently, but have made me want to. Once you find what works for you, more likely than not you’ll probably want to turn fitness into a lifestyle, and it won’t feel like a chore.
These tips are all based on my own personal experience and may not work for everyone, treat them purely as tips/suggestions rather than instructions. Make sure you ask your doctor before making any drastic changes to your own personal gym schedule, especially if you are increasing how much you are training.