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19 Ways to Trick Yourself into Working Out (When You Want to do Anything But)

We’ve all been there: That way-too-common slippery slope of losing motivation to work out. Maybe you keep saying to yourself, “I really should do a workout today,” yet you don’t motivate to do it. Too often one day snowballs into a string of days — and soon enough, that fitness goal you were so committed to a month ago is now even further from reach.

Nobody wants that, so we’ve compiled 19 expert-recommended tips that’ll get you off the couch and moving — maybe without even realizing it:

1. Take a 10-Minute Walk

“Make a deal with yourself that all you have to do is lace up your shoes, walk out the front door and keep moving for only 10 minutes, and then check in with how you feel. If you aren’t up for more, head home. Chances are, you’ll want to keep going, but even if you don’t, that is OK, too,” says Jessica Smith, creator of “Walk On: 10-Minute Quick Walk Mix.” “My motto is: Something is always better than nothing, so even just a 10-minute walk is a step in the right direction. Don’t overthink your plan of action, especially on days when you don’t feel like doing anything. Just. Get. Moving!”

2. Change Your Clothes

Put on the workout clothes that make you feel amazing and then add sneakers. “It is crazy to think how simply doing this sort of feels like you have to go workout,” says Andy Stern, general manager and founding trainer at Rumble Boxing.

3. Crank up Your Favorite Tunes

“Having a good song on helps me get my energy up,” says personal trainer Kristy Ardo. Then dance like nobody’s watching — because nobody is!

4. Roll out Your Yoga Mat and Sit on It

“Maybe that is your practice, just sitting and breathing. But typically you go from child’s pose or savasana and think, ‘maybe I can do some more.’ So you start doing some cat/cow. Give yourself props for even small movements and allow your practice to flourish in those small moments. Before you realize it, you’ll be practicing handstands,” says body-positive advocate and yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley. When you get your mat rolled out, you don’t want to roll back up, so sit on it. Yoga starts with one pose. That grows to two and then three. Before you know it, you’ve been practicing for an hour.”

5. Give Yourself a Natural Energy Surge

“Go from a sitting position on the couch, to standing [like a squat] and repeat this 15 times,” suggests Crunch’s (Hilliard, Ohio) Brittany Sutor, an NFPT certified personal trainer. “This movement uses your legs and glutes, a bigger muscle group, which is going to help with more blood flow. When your muscles start to work, it sends more blood back to your heart, which then gives you a big pump to the rest of your body.”

6. Substitute Bottomless Brunch for a Sweaty Brunch

Meet your friends for a new class at a boutique fitness studio. You’ll get to check out the class, hang with your pals, not be the only first-timer there and there’s built-in accountability, says Body Space Fitness coach Sarah Gawron.


READ MORE > RUNNING AND BRUNCHING — TOGETHER AT LAST


7. Scroll Through Instagram

“Something that keeps me motivated is the numerous fitness and health accounts I follow on Instagram, I typically wake up and scroll through the pages to see what everyone is doing to get me motivated and moving,” says Katy Armstrong, general manager and head trainer for F45 Training. Check out what your favorite fitness influencers are doing, and follow their lead.

8. Do Active Recovery

This could be a gentle yoga routine or stretching. It’ll help your body repair, Stern says.

9. Talk to Yourself

“When I flood my brain with positive thoughts, it changes the way I think. When I don’t feel like working out, I start saying to myself, ‘I love working out, I can do this, this is going to be a great workout.’ And after I knock out my workout I always tell myself, ‘Great job!’” Ardo says.

10. Do A “Fanatic Five Workout”

“This simple 5-minute, full-body routine will awaken your front, back and side core muscles. After completion you will be energized to take on a full workout,” says CorePower Yoga’s senior manager, quality, Amy Opielowski. Complete one round of each of the following exercises for one minute:

  • Bird dog: From all fours, inhale and lift your right arm forward and left leg back. Exhale back to table top. Alternate sides.
  • Forearm plank hip dip: From forearm plank with your elbows under your shoulders, tap your right hip toward the floor, then your left hip. Continue alternating sides.
  • Side forearm plank thread the needle: From side forearm plank, inhale and reach your top arm up. Exhale and thread that arm under your bottom side ribs. Repeat for 15 reps, then switch sides.
  • Bridge: Lie on your back with your heels under your knees, and place your arms by your sides. Exhale, drive your heels down and lift your hips up. Hold, then inhale and lower back down to the starting position.
  • Basic crunch: Lie on your back and place your heels under your knees and your fingertips lightly behind your ears. Inhale and lift your chest straight up toward the ceiling. Exhale to lower back down to the starting position.

READ MORE > 15 INSTAGRAMS RUNNERS WILL LOVE


11. Recruit Your Dog

Playing with your four-legged friend can count as a workout, says Ardo, adding, “you don’t always have to take it so seriously!”

12. Head Outside for a Bodyweight Workout

There’s some motivating about feeling the sun shine down on you. Sutor suggests this workout: 15 squats, 10 side lunges (per side), 10 pushups, 1-minute plank, 1-minute mountain climbers. Do it three times total — who knows, you may even decide to do a fourth round!

13. Visualize the Future

Think of your goals and that high you feel after a workout. Remembering why you’re doing the hard work can help you stay committed to your fitness routine, Gawron says.

14. Watch TV — and Use the Commercials

“When the show goes to break, do a +1 pyramid. Start with 1 squat, 1 pushup and 1 jumping jack. Then do 2 reps of each, then 3 reps, then 4 reps, etc. until the commercial break ends,” Stern says. “The next commercial break, try to beat your record.”

15. Challenge Yourself to 15 Minutes

“Set a timer and do as many squats, lunges and planks as you can until the timer goes off,” Ardo suggests. “You can break a sweat and accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.”

16. Play Some EDM and Head Outside

FYI: EDM stands for electronic dance music. “The high beats per minute (128+) will make you want to move fast, and that gets your heartbeat up. I am a big fan of apps like Fit Radio or Rock My Run with pre-made mixes to get you hyped up,” Stern says.

17. Find Friendly Competition

Call a friend or family member and ask them to join you. “It helps motivate you when someone is there pushing beside you,” Sutor says. See who can do the most squats in one minute, the most jumping jacks in one minute, and so on until you’ve completed a 10-minute, full-body workout.

18. Be Grateful

“I remember that I am simply able — my body is able to workout and move, so I try to utilize that daily,” Armstrong says. Move it or lose it.

19. Set a Good Example

“I want to be the best role model I can be for my two boys. I want them to see me leading a healthy, active life and to follow in those steps,” Ardo says. If you have kids, nieces and nephews, or even neighborhood children you feel close to, think: Would I want them to see me on the couch when I should be working out?

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