New to Working Out? How to Stay Motivated.

So you’ve started working out, taking the first steps towards getting in shape, building muscle, burning fat, and feeling better. Now, you need to make sure to keep it up. 

One of the greatest challenges in any fitness quest has nothing to do with maxing out the weight or pumping out more reps. Instead, it’s about staying motivated and focused over the long haul, finding the time and mental energy to invest in your training over the coming days, weeks, and months. 

A few workouts this week and this January? You can pull those off. But if you want real results, serious muscle, truly better strength, and improved performance, you need to keep training even when your motivation wanes. And it’s this that eludes plenty of people who fall in love with training at the start of every year, go to the gym in January – and then return to their old habits. 

How do you keep that from happening? Start with these three tips. 

WRITE DOWN MEASURABLE GOALS

Start 2020 by listing out three fitness goals you have. Make them as specific as possible; think “I want to add 25 pounds to my bench press,” or “I want to do a perfect pullup.” Do you have a more general goal, like “building muscle”? Find a way to make it specific: “I want to add 2 inches to my biceps.” Research your goal and ask trainers about it to make sure it’s something you can accomplish. 

Doing all this will do two things. First off, it’ll prevent you from setting yourself up for failure. Too many people start the year either without a goal or with a goal that’s too easy or too difficult. They wind up discouraged or disillusioned with the gym after just a few weeks, making it far easier to quit. Having an actionable goal to measure gives you a chance to track progress and continue improving; even a little progress can keep you motivated. 

BUILD A PLAN

Too many people enter the gym every January without a plan. The result: they wind up doing a few machine exercises, or slaving away on cardio machines, with little focus or direction. They do an hour of “working out,” and then they’re done. It quickly grows repetitive and they start leaving the gym earlier or skipping their workouts altogether. 

Enter with a plan; however, and you’ll get a more well-rounded workout that can get you to those measurable goals. You’ll also prevent yourself from the random training that’ll lead you to leave too soon. This plan can be as simple as a workout that you printed off the web from a quality trainer (or one of the workouts here on The Hustle), or it can be far more involved; perhaps you choose to work with a trainer at your gym. In 2020, there’s really no excuse for not having a workout plan; plenty of websites, apps, and online and in-person trainers are available to make sure you always have a workout. 

Either way, you’ll suddenly have a defined beginning and end to every session. And even if you don’t want to finish your workout, you’ll feel more inclined to hammer out those last few sets. After all, it’s written down so there are no excuses.  

TAKE IT SLOW

One of the biggest demotivators in the gym is an injury. Often, a newcomer to fitness gets hurt and instantly thinks the worst of training: It must be dangerous and not worth the trouble. Injuries can also be discouraging, curtailing any progress you’ve made, making you question whether your form was off on every single thing you did. 

Avoid those injuries by taking a careful approach in your first month of training. Take extra time to warm up and don’t be afraid to spend, say, an extra week mastering Week 1 of your training program.

EBENZER SAMUEL, C.S.C.S.

EBENZER SAMUEL, C.S.C.S.

Fitness Director for Men’s Health Magazine and CSCS trainer -

Ebenzer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He's logged training time with NFL and track athletes, and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men's Health in 2017, he served as a sports and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.