Daily workout is undoubtedly one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, with many people committing to it on a regular basis. And, without a doubt, one of the most frequently broken. Gyms all over the world fill up with newly minted members in January, but by February, almost all of them have left the building.
Those of you who have tried and failed to get into the habit of working out on a regular basis know that it can be a very discouraging cycle. It can seem like an impossible task to establish a regular exercise routine.
However, as long as you take the proper approach, this does not have to be the case. We’ve put together a list of ten key strategies to help you make exercise a habit that will last forever.
Engage in daily workout that you find enjoyable
The past two years have seen me devote my time to barbell training, and I’ve only missed a handful of workouts, and those were only when I was suffering from a severe illness (even when I’m just a little sick, I’ll still go to the gym). I’ve been preparing for Thanksgiving. I’ve been preparing for Christmas. I’ve been training while on vacation. The reason for this is that I am extremely dedicated and disciplined and force myself to work out even on the days when I don’t want to.
I merely enjoy barbell training for its own sake. A great deal! Exercise is something I do not do because I’m some sort of tough-as-nails badass, but rather because I want to. For the simple reason that I enjoy it.
When it comes to exercise, people have a tendency to believe that it must be unpleasant in order to be effective. They believe that exercise is similar to eating Brussels sprouts: you may not enjoy the taste, but you must consume them because they are beneficial to your health. Even though these people can bribe themselves into exercising for a few weeks or even months out of a desire to be conformist, they are ultimately kicking against the grain. Eventually, their dissatisfaction with their chosen regimen outweighs their desire to continue, and they stop exercising altogether.
It is true that all exercise, in order to be effective, must cause some level of discomfort. In addition, it is true that some types of exercise are more or less effective than others. Nonetheless, all exercise is beneficial, and any exercise is preferable to none. Furthermore, if you choose the right form of exercise — the form that is appropriate for you — it can in fact hurt so good while also providing immense pleasure.
A lot of people will tell you that you should do CrossFit, that you should run, that you should do barbell training, and other similar things. These individuals are well-intentioned. They most likely enjoy those activities and have benefited from them in the past, and they would like you to reap the same benefits. However, if you don’t agree with what they believe you “should” be doing, you aren’t going to follow their advice.
If you don’t want to put pressure on yourself by exercising the way someone or some magazine told you to, do something you enjoy instead. It will take some time and trial and error to figure this out. If road running isn’t your thing, try trail running instead. Try rucking if you aren’t a fan of running in general. If you are not a fan of lifting weights, consider a bodyweight training program. Instead of working out on your own, consider joining a CrossFit class, a martial arts school, or a team sports league.
Before I discovered my passion for barbell training, I spent nearly ten years grudgingly completing cardio-heavy and CrossFit-style workout programs that I didn’t enjoy. I’ve recently discovered that I also enjoy rucking and MovNat, so those activities are now included in my exercise routine. Exercise is now something I look forward to — in fact, it feels like one of the most enjoyable aspects of my life; as a result, it would take more discipline for me to skip a workout than it would for me to complete one!
The bottom line is that if you want to make exercise a habit, start by choosing an activity that you find enjoyable. If you follow these steps, you will be 90 percent on your way to becoming a man who exercises on a regular basis.
Make a note of your training schedule and put it on your calendar
Apart from choosing an activity that they do not enjoy, the other factor that prevents people from regularly exercising is failing to schedule time for it in their schedule. Physical activity is one of those things that these people will get around to… if they have the time. The problem is that they never manage to do so because something else always comes up.
If you want to have time to exercise, you must take the time to do so. Exercise should be scheduled on your calendar and treated as medical appointments, which is the most effective way to accomplish this. Similar to when someone inquires about doing something during the same time slot as your scheduled doctor’s appointment, when someone inquires about doing something during your workout “appointment,” you will respond by informing them that you are busy.
Experiment with different workout times to find the one that works best for you
At what time should you schedule your “appointments” for your workouts? That is entirely up to you.
Many people find that it is best to exercise first thing in the morning so that their workout does not get pushed off their schedule when they become tired and stressed, or when “urgent” to-do lists pile up throughout the day. When the large rocks are placed first, all of the smaller rocks will be able to fit as well.
That is not, however, an unbreakable rule for everyone in the world. Everybody has a unique work/life balance, as well as a unique rhythm to their daily energy and motivation. Perhaps you’ll enjoy working out at lunch or in the evenings more. If you don’t try, you’ll never find out. Experiment with various options to determine which one is the most effective for you.