What makes it hard to work out?
When you come home from work, you want to relax. You’ve been at work for the entire day, and by the time you get home you still need to cook dinner, get groceries, clean, do laundry, and generally take care of your life.
Plus you want some time to hang out with your friends. Or even just time to yourself.
The idea of working out seems exhausting.
What workout would even you do?
No one teaches you how to work out. When you walk into the gym, there are dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, pull-up bars, dip stations, power racks, squat racks, benches, and dozens of machines. How do you know what works?
You might hire a trainer to help, but at most gyms the trainers are more focused on making you feel tired than helping you get fit. Chances are they were one of those people that looks great just by lying around on the couch.
When I started working out, I had no idea what I was doing. I was an out-of-shape nerd. None of my friends worked out.
I thought exercising meant punishing myself with brutal workouts.
I would work out for two weeks, then “take a break” for six months. And every day I would tell myself “oh, I’ll just work out tomorrow.”
In the meantime, these are the kinds of things I was thinking:
- “I’m too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit at the beach”
- “I feel weird being in the gym without being ripped, like I don’t belong”
- “I hate exercising, and it doesn’t work for me anyway”
- “Fitness feels like a chore. I’m too lazy and unmotivated”
- “I don’t have any time to work out”
I went on like that for years before I changed. And I finally managed to change because I studied psychology religiously in school (remember, I was a huge nerd). I still read academic papers for fun in my spare time.
But it took way too long before I realized that all of this psychology research was good for something.
So I used it to change my habits. To understand the real reasons I wasn’t working out. To “get motivated,” and then stop needing motivation altogether.
All of a sudden, I started working out again. I stopped skipping workouts. And my body started to change.
It turns out being consistent is more important than anything else.
The workout you do doesn’t matter if you only do it once. Start by developing a workout habit. You can pick another workout later (and chances are you’ll see results before then anyway).
I started as an out-of-shape, 5’8″ kid. I haven’t gotten any taller, but I did use psychology to gain 50 pounds of mostly muscle – then used the same tricks to carefully lose 10 pounds of fat.
At the same time, I graduated from a top school with high marks, landed a job in an industry where I had no experience, had the self-confidence to actually make new friends, and lived a generally happier and more active existence than any other time in my life.
All of that was because I got fit.
I had more energy, more focus, and more confidence. Plus, I understood how to change my own habits and really get things done.
Forget jumping in, going hard, and burning out. That’s exhausting, demoralizing, and defeating.
Instead, understand what really makes you take action. Results become inevitable.
Enter Your Roadmap to Fitness
The Roadmap to Fitness is a fitness goals worksheet based on the best techniques I learned when I was figuring things out.
You’ll learn (totally free):
- A 4 step process to make goals so airtight they almost achieve themselves
- The disastrous planning mistake most people make with their fitness routines
- A motivational technique that drives you to keep going when all you want to do is lie in bed and watch Netflix
The Roadmap comes in two parts. You get:
- A step-by-step guide, complete with examples and custom templates, to creating bulletproof plans that tell you exactly what you need to be doing
- An exact breakdown and instantly useable template for a key motivational tactic that gives you the jolt you need to keep going.
You’ll learn how to stop skipping workouts so you can lose weight, build toned muscle, and obliterate couch potato syndrome – even if just thinking about the gym makes you sweat.
You can get the Roadmap totally for free, right now.
As a bonus, you’ll also get my 51 Fitness Motivation Tips, a 46-page collection of the best methods I use to give myself a jump start when I start to slip.
Here’s a preview of one of my favorite habit-forming techniques.
Preview Technique: Chaining
Most habits are cued by something. That is, something external triggers your body to complete a well-practiced routine.
Take brushing your teeth, a deeply ingrained habit that you probably do regularly and think about doing almost never. For tooth-brushing, the cue is a time (morning) and a place (the bathroom).
One way to develop consistency in your exercise habit is to connect it to an event that you know will always happen at the same time or place. In college, for example, I liked to work out directly after afternoon classes. I would leave class at 4:05, get to my dorm room at 4:15, change my clothes, and be in the gym by 4:35.
Breaking down the chain of actions, it’s clear that cuing served a vital role in helping me be consistent. The first action, leaving class, was guaranteed to happen. The second, returning to my dorm room, was an unrelated but strong habit that I had already established. Finally, I changed clothes and hit the gym.
The progression of these actions is important, because it can help us understand how to chain exercise onto events that already happen. All I did was tack exercise onto the end of an existing habit chain.
For me, the chain was a hugely effective tactic that started off my gym-going habit. In fact, I found it much harder to work out on weekends, or days with cancelled class. The reason: there was no chain, and therefore nothing to cue going to the gym.
Keep the Chain Going
A crucial aspect of chaining is continuity. When I walked into my dorm room, I didn’t dump my stuff and flop down on my bed “for just 5 minutes,” because doing so would kill my momentum and make it way harder to get moving again.
Actually, I did face that problem at first, before I realized what was happening and cut it out. The moment of choosing not to flop down on my bed and watch Netflix or Reddit is one that legitimately uses willpower (although the coming tactics will provide ways to further reduce it), and if I had been particularly savvy I would have avoided my dorm altogether, preventing the temptation to laze around.
Nowadays I avoid going home after work, bringing my workout stuff with me to work so that I have no excuses.
You can discover the other 50 techniques (and a step-by-step system) by downloading the free guide and eBook.