Originally Published on Mensfitness.com By Sara Greenfest
So you skipped a few workouts, and now anything—even shoe shopping with your girlfriend and her mom—sounds more appealing than getting back to the gym. And with the highest-stakes (shirtless-ly speaking) season having just come to a close, what’s the big deal with putting on a little extra pudge, right?
Come on. Snap out of it and get your lazy ass back on track. The longer you avoid the gym, the harder it’ll be to get back into your workout routine, says Mike Gray, General Manager of UFC Gym. And truthfully, sometimes all you need to overcome the workout blues is a little switch-up in your routine. Luckily, Gray helped us put together a list of the best ways to help you start fresh. Read this, and you’ll be back at the gym in no time.
1. Keep your playlist fresh
It’s really that simple. A recent study by the University of Wisconsin La Crosse Exercise and Health Program reported that listening to upbeat music while working out can reduce the perception of effort and increase endurance by 15%. You won’t feel like you’re working as much—meaning you’ll go longer and harder. So, whether you like listening to hip-hop, rap, techno, or pop, keeping your playlists updated is one of the major keys to steady workout motivation.
2. Try a boot camp workout
First off, any new workout is going to reboot your motivation, period. But recent research from the American Council on Exercise found boot camp workouts in particular to be the most effective fitness style. Why? Since they’re team-oriented—boot campers feel united by having to “survive” the workouts together—it pushes participants to exercise even harder.
3. Get a workout partner
Whether it’s a lifelong friend or an office buddy, gym partners give you a real boost. “Partners not only help with the motivational aspect, but they can help in getting you better results, too,” says Gray. “They push you a little harder than you’d normally push yourself, and make sure you actually go to the gym even when you feel like going home.” And to make sure you both keep each other motivated—make a game out of it: First guy to flake on the gym buys the other a beer (a light one, of course) at happy hour. Make sure to hold each other to it.
4. Set realistic goals
In order to stay inspired, you want to feel like you’re getting results—so keep your objectives practical. “Setting goals is extremely important, but setting realistic goals is even more important,” says Gray. So, as much as you may aspire to get Mark Wahlberg’s pecs, just keep in mind that those puppies didn’t grow overnight. “Celebs are great eye candy, but they have loads of time and money to put into working out,” says Gray. “Look at their lifestyles before looking to them for motivation.” How can you stay inspired? Set small, attainable, performance-oriented goals specific to your abilities. Each week, tell yourself you’ll add more reps or weight to your chest press, for example—and you’ll be feeling like Marky Mark in no time.
5. Talk up your workouts to friends
Once you have the reputation of being a badass gym go-er, you can’t flake out because you’re lazy. “Allow your family and friends in on your workout journey so they can help you stay motivated,” says Gray. “After all, they’ll notice your results before you do.” Plus, the positive feedback from them will help you stay on track—as will the sarcastic quips when they see you enter couch potato mode.
6. Think about how good you’ll be in bed
A study conducted at UC San Diego tracked a group of men who were put on a workout regimen of one hour of cardio done three to four times a week. After only nine months of continuous exercise, the subjects reported that their sex lives were way more satisfying—they had better stamina and orgasms. In comparison, a group of men that performed light workout routines, such as walking at a much slower pace, had no major improvement. This reason alone should get you back to the gym…and start working hard.
7. Add some competition
Sometimes all you need to light a fire under your butt is a little bit of trash talk. So sign up for a weekly sports league or join a CrossFit gym. The competitive edge will help you want to push your workout further. Then again, you can always compete with yourself. Apps like Fitocracy, iMapMyFitness, and Gym Buddy let you track your workouts, share your progress with friends, and compare your routine with others. So, next time you finish a six-mile run in less than an hour, post your time and show it off. Who knows, your buddy might beat your time tomorrow. Game on.
8. Take your workout outside
A study carried out by a team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found that people who exercise outside feel more energized and rejuvenated after their workout. Outdoor exercisers reported feeling less stressed, depressed, and frustrated with the daily B.S. life brings. Plus, they reported they’d be much more likely to exercise all over again. So, instead of drinking your work frustrations away—go for a run. You can always grab a drink on your way home.
9. Inflict gym-only TV privileges
Trying to lose weight but hate cardio? Try this sneaky tip. Here’s how it works: Allot one TV series as watchable during gym-time only. This way you’ll know you need to make it to the gym to watch your guilty pleasure—whether you’re catching it live or downloading it to your phone or tablet. Plus, when you’re trying to burn a ton of calories, it makes the time pass much faster.
10. Embrace the long-term benefits
We all have our lazy days, but keeping to a consistent workout schedule today is extremely important for staying healthy tomorrow. A study by Northwestern University found that maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout young adulthood and middle age will lower the risk of cardiovascular disease as one gets older, no matter what your DNA says. So before you blame any future bad health on your grandfather—get your butt of the couch and do what you can do to take control of your body.