Making working out a habit is the most powerful way to get in killer shape. And yet, so many of us struggle with it. Here is your guide to locking down the exercise habit.
Habits, good and bad, form a massive part of our day.
Whether its brushing our teeth (yup, that’s a habit), to spending compulsive amounts of time on Facebook and our smartphones (another couple habits), or the way in which we decide to wind down after a rough day at the office, our day can be spliced into a number of different habits and routines.
Once set into motion, our habits dictate how we perform, for better or worse. Check these protetox reviews.
Unleash the Power of Making Exercise a Habit
There are few things more powerful than developing the habit of exercising. It, for instance, can—
- Eliminate the mental argument of “should I go to the gym” vs. “should I not go to the gym?”
- Once in place, actually doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.
- Doesn’t need a lot of (exhausting) willpower once set into motion.
- And of course, it has the nice, added bonus of creating favorable outcomes.
Which, when bundled all together, sounds pretty magical, doesn’t it?
Making exercise a habit is one of the most powerful things you can do in service of your physical, mental and emotional health, and yet, why do so many of us struggle with it?
Mainly, it’s because we go about it the wrong way.
Whether it is trying to do too much too soon, having unrealistic expectations, or not having an environment that greases the wheels of our habits, we stumble blindly into trying to make change without understanding the best way to make it happen.
As a result, our failed attempts at making working out a habit conditions us to believe the process is flawed, that we aren’t deserving, or that we aren’t cut out to achieve hilarious things in the gym.
Listed below are a series of proven methods you can use individually or collectively to unleash the power of putting your workouts (and the results you subsequently want!) on auto-pilot.
I also put them together into a nice little PDF that you can view at your own leisure, print out, use as the background on your cell phone, whatever. It’s found at the bottom of the post.
1. Chain your new habit to something you are already doing.
Want to boost the likelihood of making working out a habit by 200-300%?
Institute something called if-then planning. It’s pretty straightforward, but as you will see with habit formation, simple is better (and powerful like He-Man).
Essentially what if-then planning—or, implementation intentions—boils down to is planning your habit according to something that you are already doing (getting off work) or that is bound to happen (like a time, for instance).
Here are a few examples:
- If it is 7:30pm, then I will go to the gym.
- When I get off work, then I will go for a run.
- When the Seahawks game is over on Sunday, then I will go for a hike.
Just how well does this type of habit planning work?
One study had participants sit down and write out when and at what time they would exercise. Several months later 91% of the if-then planners were still holding true to their workout schedule, while only 39% of the control group were still exercising.
- See also: The Ultimate List of Workout Routines. Our every growing database of workouts and routines from some of the top strength coaches and personal trainers on the planet.
2. Make the thing before the thing the habit.
On days where I am truly struggling to maintain the discipline to work out, when I am tired, sore, and am hearing the sweet whispers of “It’s okay, we’ll workout tomorrow” I lean on this one simple way to utterly trick myself.
The goal becomes the thing before the goal.
- If your goal is to work out for two hours today, make the goal walking through the doors of the gym.
- If your goal is to eat healthy today, make the goal laying out the ingredients for your healthy meals on the counter.
- If the goal is to swim 5,000m, the goal becomes getting in the water and warming up.
In each case, once you are there, and baby-stepping your way into doing what ya need to do, your brain’s natural and uncontrollable desire to finish what it has started kicks in and takes over.
Your brain hates unfinished tasks, and generally once you are set into motion, you’ll finish what you have started. That Newton guy had something to say on this— “an object in motion tends to stay in motion.”
(On a side note, the regret you usually feel when you look back with remorse at the things you didn’t complete? That’s the same kind of tension and nagging sense of need-to-finish that we are tapping here. Your brain, being the funny little thing that it is, is shockingly needy when it comes to unfinished tasks.)
3. Keep things as simple as possible.
Complexity and choice has a way of overwhelming us. We like to believe that it is choice that we want, but more often than not excess decision making zaps the limited reserves of valuable self-control we carry around with us.
Even boring day-to-day decisions like what kind of clothes you should buy, what type of chocolate bar you should eat, or whether we should single scoop or double scoop our protein chip away at the finite amount of mental energy.
The loss of self-control resulted in reduced physical stamina, added procrastination, and less persistence when faced with challenging circumstances.