Woman riding indoor bike to maintain gym motivation

Workout Motivation: 13 Ways to Pump Yourself Up!

We all know the importance of working on our fitness. Staying in shape is important for both our long-term health and how we feel day-to-day, after all.

That being said—knowing this in theory doesn't always translate into an unfettered desire to go to the gym; most of us don't give it our all every single time. There are definitely days where we all need an extra push of energy—sometimes to start the workout, and sometimes to finish it! But how exactly can we maintain our desire and drive to exercise in simple and sustainable ways?

How to maintain workout motivation

No matter how you show up, prioritizing your fitness and getting a workout in is a great way to support your overall health. But, with the go-go-go kind of lifestyle we're all used to, drumming up the motivation to work out regularly and stay energized and interested in what you're doing can sometimes feel like a Herculean task.

While fitness isn't a one size fits all approach, there are plenty of tactics you can use that will provide workout inspiration and have you staying a regular in the gym. From utilizing social media to creating a schedule, and even smart fitness supplementation, let's dive in!

13 ways to stay motivated to work out

  1. Listen to music

    —Music is its own universal language. It's one of the ways we connect with others and with our feelings and emotions. It also has a wealth of health benefits, including its impact on motivation to exercise! And motivation is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, a meta-analysis of studies found that listening to music promotes athletic performance, inhibits perceived exertion (aka how tired you feel during your workout) and even supports physiological efficiency. So next time you need that extra push, turn on your favorite playlist and get moving!
  2. Try out a podcast

    —Podcasts are a wonderful asset in general for those who are interested in, well, anything!With so many different topics at your fingertips, they're a great educational tool, with scientific studies finding that podcasts have a positive effect on students for learning and enhancing motivation. And let's be honest—when your mind is occupied, those minutes on the treadmill, running path or bike can really speed by! Try exercising both your mind and your body by listening to motivational podcasts that emphasize wellness and healthy living, two subjects that can directly impact your fitness motivation. Listening to a podcast will rev up not just your exercise motivation, but your motivation and curiosity in general! Talk about a win-win!
  3. Schedule your workouts

    —A great way to maintain exercise motivation is making sure you're building good habits and creating a solid plan. Whether that means blocking off your calendar for a half hour cardio session around your neighborhood daily or putting five days of strength training in your planner, creating set times and days to move can encourage you on your fitness journey—making you more likely to follow through and less likely to skip out on your next gym session!
  4. Pro tip: If you find you're having trouble keeping up on your own, up the stakes by working with a personal trainer at your gym or signing up for a group fitness class to keep you accountable.

Is it Better to Work Out in the Morning or the Evening?

Morning larks and night owls alike, should you be sweating what time of day you choose to sweat? If you're someone who likes to rise with the sun and prioritize fitness first thing, or you prefer to decompress after a long day with physical activity, you're in luck! While some studies have espoused some small benefits of one over the other, there generally isn't one optimal time to work out. In fact, it should be the time that works best for you. So, whether you're the first person in the gym or the last one out, know that you're still getting the most out of your workout since both morning and evening exercising have been shown to be beneficial to your health.

  1. Work out in a group

    —It's no surprise that social interaction is a major component of fostering relationships, and is supportive of your mental health. So why wouldn't you want a workout buddy or even a group to help you support your fitness goals and foster accountability along the way? And there's science behind it, too! A 2020 review found that post-menopausal women living in rural communities had more motivation to engage in physical activity when in social groups. Try taking a midday walk with your co-workers or be an inspiration to your friends and family by inviting them to do a quick push-up and sit-up session at home. Even the camaraderie of a group class at your gym can be the extra push you need to work harder to keep up your routine. There are plenty of great options to choose from when you need gym motivation.
  2. Get inspiration from others

    —If you're having trouble drumming up your own workout motivation, look for extrinsic motivators! From the people in your life to fitness influencers on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, having the right motivational influence can help change your mindset and deepen your sense of purpose. Whether you're more muscle minded or more into mindful stretching, there's a niche space for every type of fitness, so seek out influences who inspire you and are like-minded when it comes to goals. Who knows, they may even help you find new exercises to add to your repertoire!
  3. Set specific workout goals

    —Maybe you're a big HIIT enthusiast who wants to size down in a t-shirt or pant size, or you're into powerlifting and want to move up in weight on your bicep curl. No matter what it is, concrete goals will help keep you going when you need an extra push to not skip out on exercise. Try to set SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-dependent, in order to ensure that they are sustainable. In fact, one randomized controlled trial found that SMART goal setting in adolescents showed greater improvement in a measure of physical activity that included the 50 m dash, grip strength, 800/1000 m running and core strength and even behavioral control compared to a group that didn't have these specific goals.

    Pro-tip: The "S" in SMART, for specific, is key. You can never be too detailed when it comes to a goal! For example, instead of just deciding on which days of the week will be spent at the gym, it might be a good idea to pick specific days for different types of exercises. Knowing exactly what you'll be doing ahead of time can be motivational; when you have a carefully orchestrated plan, staying on the couch will be less tempting.

  4. Don't be afraid to switch up your workout routine

    —If you're feeling like you're hitting a plateau, or you're getting bored, it might be time to mix things up. This doesn't mean you have to change what you're doing full stop, but try incorporating other types of exercises to challenge your muscles, or give them a break to avoid overtraining. Whether that's trying a new sport in lieu of the gym, or slowing it down with some at-home yoga, trying new things will help avoid mental and physical fatigue.

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  1. Reward yourself for building smart habits and hitting your goals

    —Positive reinforcement is an essential motivator of human behavior. Fostering a sense of accomplishment and rewarding yourself when you hit your goals—no matter how big or small— is an important part of keeping yourself motivated to stay on track. Including tangible rewards as well, like buying yourself a new outfit or planning a trip, is a great way to encourage you to strive to hit your goals while keeping healthy habits front of mind!
    Best of all, exercise can be its own reward in the form of dopamine. Dopamine, aka the feel-good neurotransmitter, plays a key role in our brain's reward system, and is released by engaging in various activities, including exercise. When your body releases dopamine, this creates a sort of positive feedback loop, where we're rewarded with an elevated mood and higher motivation to continue to seek out these healthy behaviors.

    Pro-tip: Donning your favorite activewear—be it a gym tank with your favorite fitness quote on it that proudly displays the evidence of your muscle-building routine, or a workout shirt or leggings in a color that makes you happy—is another way to help you motivate yourself at home or in the gym.

  2. Find ways to make working out fun

    —Though some may be hitting the gym just to get it done, it turns out there is a science to finding workouts you enjoy! Multiple studies (including a 2020 study of 575 regular gym goers) have found that enjoyment of exercise has the highest effect on athletic performance, so if one type of workout isn't right for you, try to find something that aligns more closely with your interests, goals and strength level. And remember, your workout has to be right for you. So don't be afraid of trying to find workout inspiration by experimenting with different types of movement—including yoga, CrossFit, or a new group sport—until something sticks in an enjoyable way.
  3. Encourage yourself with inspirational quotes

    —Sometimes, motivation is as simple as telling yourself "I can do it." Positive self-talk is an essential part of prioritizing your mental health and is a great way to help you feel more motivated to reach your goals. Whether that goal is working out every single day or running a faster mile, half the battle is believing that you can do it. Not in a creative state of mind? The internet is full of inspiring fitness quotes that can add to your gym motivation.
  4. Get to know the "why"

    —If you're still struggling with feeling motivated to workout, maybe it's time to think about all the positive impacts it has on your health—impacts that go beyond weight loss. One meta-analysis found that being physically active at age 60 and older positively impacts cardiovascular health, cognitive health, breast health in women and prostate health in men—and even supports your mental and emotional health. Those who may be unsure about the impact to their joints are also in luck, as another study found that running and even long-distance running, such as marathons, may support joint health, rather than negatively affect it as many commonly believe. Keep yourself accountable knowing that each time you do a workout, you're being proactive now and doing future you a favor.
  1. Try pre-workout supplements to maximize your fitness regimen

    —Incorporating supplements into your healthy lifestyle to support any part of your health is a smart idea. But did you know that there are supplements that can help maximize your fitness progress as well? Incorporating certain fitness supplements can motivate you to continue making gains in the gym.
    • Creatine—Creatine, an amino acid derivative, is generally used for athletic performance. Studies have even found that taking creatine during resistance training actually increases exercise performance and muscle strength better than resistance training alone, making it an easy choice.
    • BCAAs—The mighty BCAAs are also a great option for those who need a little extra push in their workouts, and is also helpful for post-exercise muscle recovery. Beginner to regular workouts? No worries! Branched chain amino acids were even found in a clinical study to boost cycling performance in untrained cyclists.
  2. Don't sweat the small stuff

    —It's incredibly difficult to stay motivated if you're feeling stressed. With so many thoughts racing, sometimes a workout is at the back of your mind, with the thought of the gym far away. But the right tools to manage stress can not only help you feel more ready to crush your workout, but will also play a part in maintaining healthy energy throughout.

Does rhodiola give you energy?

As we mentioned, an important aspect of maintaining gym motivation is by properly managing stress. Stress that goes unchecked can impact your overall health and your energy levels, making it harder to maintain your exercise performance. Enter the double duty power of rhodiola.

Rhodiola rosea, aka rhodiola, is an adaptogen known primarily for its stress-modulating properties. This is large in part due to its ability to support healthy levels of cortisol. And that's not all! Preclinical research has also shown that rhodiola helps fight fatigue by boosting production of a compound called ATP. Why is this important? ATP levels are primarily used in the body to support cellular energy production, which benefits physical performance, mental performance, and even physical endurance, all key components of maintaining a healthy relationship with fitness. Short-term supplementation of rhodiola has even been found to enhance both resistance training performance in athletic men and anaerobic athletic performance in college aged women, making it a great option for supporting your overall performance and keeping motivation front of mind.

If you're looking for more fitness supportive nutrients to add alongside rhodiola to help keep you motivated, try this health needs quiz to help round out your regimen!

About the Author: Holly Denton got her degree in English Literature from Florida State University and previously worked in English education abroad with the Peace Corps and other development organizations before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Copywriter.