How to Stick to a Workout Routine

I’m someone who loves the way I feel when I’m exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but for a long time I struggled with falling off the workout wagon. I would do really well for a week or two, then life would inevitably get in the way, and I’d get discouraged over failing. My schedule would change, I’d get invited out for dinner, or I’d simply feel sluggish for a couple days, and my resolve to workout disappeared. I wouldn’t pick it back up for weeks. Then, inspiration to workout would strike anew (usually because I’d notice my body and energy level feeling less than stellar), and the process would start all over again.

We all know that working out is essential for our physical and mental health, but it can be seriously hard to stick to a routine. Life happens. Workouts get boring. Holidays and parties knock you off the treadmill. So, how do you make a workout schedule that, you know, actually works? After my many ups and downs, here are a few things that have helped me stay in a workout groove.

1. Pick a time you know will work

One of the biggest changes I’ve made to my workout routine is waking up an hour earlier to make it happen. I enjoyed working out in the afternoons, but oftentimes I wanted to go out for dinner with friends or attend an event after work and my gym time would get pushed aside.

While getting up at 5:45 a.m. isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, setting a time you know will work can help cut down on how many “off” days you have interrupting your routine. Maybe try working out late at night, or pick an activity you can bust out on your lunch hour – like a power walk, yoga, or even a pilates class.

2. Limit your time off 

Often, my downfall wasn’t in the workouts themselves, but in how many days off i took. After one day, it was easy to jump back in. Two, sure. Three days or more? It was hard to find that motivation again.

Try to set a limit on how much time off you’re going to take in any given week. It’s helpful to have that reminder when it’s time to get back to work. However, don’t get too discouraged if for some reason you extend your self-imposed break. Just get back in the game as soon as you can.

3. Shake up your routine

Let’s face it, working out can get boring, especially if you’re doing the same thing over and over again. I would run on a treadmill, and while I liked seeing my progress, I hated doing the same thing over and over again. Once I took my running routine outside, the (literal) change in scenery helped keep me engaged.

Look for ways to make your workouts less boring. That may mean doing an activity that is more exciting for you – like a silks class or high-paced bootcamp. Or it could mean simply switching up your routine with weights or yoga, so both your muscles and your brain get some new stimulation.

4. Set the bar low

Running headlong into an intense workout routine has tripped me up time and time again. I’ll decide to blast my body into shape with P90x or get on a fast-tracked schedule to run a marathon, then I predictably crash and burn. One of the best things I’ve done for my workout routine is to set a goal of doing 10 push-ups a day. If I do nothing else, I still feel like I’ve cleared my personal bar, because I’ve set that bar low.

Aiming to complete a simple workout each day can keep you in a steady routine and help get you motivated to do more. Sometimes I won’t feel like lacing up my running shoes, and on those days, I tell myself all I’ll run is one mile. Often I’ll end up doing three-five miles, because it’s taking that first step out the door that’s often the hardest.