How to Build Motivation for Your Workout

By Brandon Morgado

March 8, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man


The hardest part about starting or continuing an exercise regimen is maintaining motivation. If you’re the type of person who can wake up at 5:00 every morning and go to the gym, then that’s great. But if you’re like me, you may need a little help to get started.

Everyone who has been on an exercise program for any amount of time has their own favorite techniques for staying motivated. Here are a few of my personal favorites. Hopefully, one or all of these simple motivation hacks will help you to never let your body get the best of you.

    • Use a Landmark
      When running starts getting hard, it can be helpful to choose a landmark as an imaginary finish line. By running to this certain landmark (a lamppost, mailbox, etc.), you can really motivate yourself to keep going. If you can see an object as your goal, you will feel much more determination to finish than if you set some arbitrary time limit. Then after you reach that landmark, you can cheat and set another one. This helps to break your runs into bite-size segments that are easier to handle than one long, endless jog. 
  • “One More”
    Telling yourself “One more” (e.g., one more rep, one more mile, etc.) can be a really powerful motivational tool. Twenty more push ups is a lot harder to mentally handle than only one more. Anyone can do one more. When your current activity is really starting to wear on you, just tell yourself “one more”. After that one is finished, tell yourself “one more” again. Repeat until you are completely out of steam. 
  • Do Something You Love
    If you can turn exercise into something you love to do, it will never seem like a chore. Playing Ultimate Frisbee, for example, is one of my absolute favorite activities. I try to fit in several games a week and look forward to each one. For me, Ultimate isn’t work; it’s recess. Find an activity you love, and it will become an addiction. 
  • Train For Something That Scares You
    If you go ahead and bite the bullet by signing up for an event that really intimidates you, you will be forced to really, really train for it. I recently did this in preparation for my first marathon. The thought of running 26.2 miles really made me nervous, so I took my training for the event very seriously. I knew that if I didn’t give this preparation my all, the marathon was going to knock me on my butt. Because I respected the severity of the race, I kept it constantly in my mind. There was no chance of me forgetting about it or brushing it aside. I was going to beat the marathon or it was going to beat me. 

However, you don’t have to train for a marathon in order to be intimidated. Whatever goal you set for yourself, make sure it is big enough that you can’t just walk through it with nothing more than a halfhearted effort. Place yourself in a situation that truly scares you, and you will have all the motivation you need to keep your daily exercise going.

  • Find a Partner
    Working out with a partner is great for a number of reasons. First, if you are meeting someone to exercise with, you have more of a responsibility to show up. How do you think your friend would feel if you stood them up for a morning run? Second, it is a great help to have someone set the pace for you. If you’re jogging with a partner who is keeping a steady pace, you will be amazed at how much easier it will be for your body to stay in rhythm with theirs. Third, having a friend workout with you will provide you with both encouragement and distraction from the pain of the exercise. Try to keep a conversation going as long as you can and you’ll be surprised at how far you can go without even realizing it. 

If you can find the motivation needed to lace up your shoes and walk out the front door, then 90% of the hard work is already done. The rest is simply going through the motions; the mind is where the battle is won or lost. Trust me, after a few solid victories, it just gets easier and easier.

Written on 3/8/2009 by Brandon Morgado. Brandon is a self-professed fitness geek and blogs regularly at when he isn’t running, playing Ultimate Frisbee or wasting his life away on Twitter. Photo Credit:
Brandon Morgado

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