More than Pushups. Beyond Discipline.

How to Stick to a Workout Routine or Fitness Habit: 5 Ideas

by | Fitness Habits, Mindset

150 pushups in 5 minutes every day?  Behind the story of this self-imposed pushup challenge that is now part of my daily workout, many mental tricks come to play to stick to my fitness habit.

Sticking to a workout routine usually requires some physical and mental effort. Everyone feels some resistance or a mental barrier when it comes to completing something that requires some effort. Mental tricks help overcome this.

The methods and tricks presented here are not new, but they are applied and highlighted in a fitness context, which might be new.

Routines and habits are compelling in the long run; use them extensively for your endeavors, including outside the fitness galaxy!

The Right Workout Routine For You Is The Routine You Stick To - PushUpAndMore.Com

How Do I Stick To My Fitness Routine Every Day?

I use more than one trick to stick to my daily workout routine. The hardest part is probably just showing up, as your mind may find plenty of made excuses for not showing up. Tackle this by getting ready as soon as possible. Put your fitness outfit on while thinking about something that excites you rather than the pain you may encounter during your upcoming fitness session. Once ready, do not think much or think about something you will enjoy once you are done with your workout. If your mood is still hesitant, start with something easy, like a quick warmup, to comfort you that’s exercising is not the end of the world. 

Use the tricks below extensively to make your workout session happen every day.

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Bend The Truth – “Fake It Till You Make It”

Use a variation that helps you when you’re in the process of building your workout routine habit. Kindly turn a blind eye to the intensity that is required by your exercise’s form. If you do pushups as an exercise, you don’t need to start with the most challenging forms, such as diamond pushups or clap pushups. If you’re struggling, treat yourself with more accessible variations such as the “Instagram Pushups.” There is no need to be perfect, especially while you’re building up the habit of just showing up.

Of course, don’t hurt yourself with incorrect posture. However, if an easier variation of an exercise helps you show up and make it happen, go for it. Then, you will have plenty of time to execute more challenging movements.

My first extended series of pushups was a disaster. On 26 March 2020, I took first the challenge to execute 100 pushups in a row. One hundred pushups because I recall being able to achieve at a much younger age in judo training as a challenge. I struggled, but I managed to finish the series by turning a blind eye to my body movement’s quality. I also yelled several times out of pain. All of this was undoubtedly laughable from an external perspective, but I was so happy to have made it.

Achieving something generates a positive kick to your brain that remains in memory.  Repeating the “Yes, I’ve made it” kind of feeling does help to build up confidence over time. It’s a bit like repeating a challenging but non-traumatizing experience.

 

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Building a positive momentum by repeatedly ticking the box for your fitness session is a slow but robust and straightforward process. The recurring positive thought that “yeah, I made it today even if it was not perfect” builds the conviction that, after all, this fitness challenge is not killing you, and you have probably no valid reason to stop this. 

The focus on quality is rarely a good thing to get momentum, at least at the start of a challenging journey. So bending the truth on the quality side at first helps to take off. Over time the shift in quality becomes essential: 1 reason to focus on quality rather than quantity in fitness.

Polish first your ego a little bit to develop a sense of accomplishment. “I completed my daily series of 100 pushups again; I just need to improve over time on the quality,” is a more satisfying thought than “I executed perfectly 30 pushups, then I gave up because I was completely exhausted. I will never make it.” The quality, the speed at which you perform the exercise, and your range of motion accuracy are the icing on the cake. Make the cake first. To do so you may rely on what some people call the ‘cold shower mindset. as described below.

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How To Get Your Workout Done By Using The Cold-Shower Mindset?

First of all, what is the cold-shower mindset?

The cold-shower mindset is accomplishing a primary task’s objective but going through the duty as fast as possible because it is unpleasant. Getting things done is not necessarily incompatible with achieving the primary goal. Staying clean is a must-do for most, and people make sure they stay clean even if they have to go through a cold shower when they do not have the choice.

How to use it in a fitness context?

If accomplishing your fitness challenge is a bit painful physically or mentally (lack of motivation) speaking, remind yourself of your primary fitness goal (getting healthier, getting a six-pack, reaching this performance level, etc.). Be accountable. Forget all excuses you are probably making up. Adopt a cold shower mindset: get it done quickly, then move on to more “exciting or comfortable things.”

Use the Cold Shower Mindset in A Fitness Context - PushUpAndMore.Com

Adjust The Frequency Of Your Workouts With A Non-Foolish Approach To Discipline

“Don’t be too hard with yourself, just a little bit – Discipline is vital, but don’t overkill it”

Once in a while, I took a cheat day. In the beginning, maybe one cheat day after 4 or 5 sessions in a row. Now it’s sporadic, perhaps once every two weeks in summer, once every week in winter. It has just become much more comfortable than it used to be, and I’m happy with that. This technique helps to get ouf of the spinning wheel feeling you may have. I personally tend to not use a lot it as it can become an easy escape of what I’m building: resilience.

As you may have guessed, if you’re too lenient with yourself, you are going to fool yourself every day. The human brain is very good at finding excuses for not doing things that require a bit of effort. Use breaks and cheat days reasonably.

“I’m a bit tired.”: most of us are. If you are fit and energized enough to go the bathroom, you’re certainly good to go. Get up and move your ***. At least show up and do something to build up discipline..

“I deserve a break.”: don’t be too entitled, and don’t fool yourself with excuses. Are you fooling yourself, or is your body wholly drained to the point you feel you will pass out? Humans are the best at finding reasons for not doing something that requires some effort.

Be Accountable: Talk About Your Challenge To Your Friends

Challenge experts are unanimous; if you make your new challenge public, you will be more likely to achieve it. The same applies to your fitness routine. Having a friend who regularly asks you if you’re still committed to your exercise routine can act as a powerful catalyzer in keeping you going. Some go further and even publish their progress on social media. Do whatever makes you feel accountable within your boundaries. There is no need to transform yourself overnight into a YouTuber if being on video online is not your cup of tea.

Share Your Workout Routine With Your Friends To Feel More Accountable - PushUpAndMore.Com

Record Your Fitness Activity And Track Your Progress

Be true to yourself with facts, not biased estimations. 

Bookkeeping how you stick to your fitness routine helps in 2 ways:

1) to not fool yourself with an overly optimistic view of what you accomplished.

2) to help you visualize what you accomplished

Videorecording makes you aware of your progress and how also you cheat with your range of motion. There is nothing mention wrong with cheating with a move that makes things easier as long as it is admitted. It helps keep momentum within the range of motion during the exercise (short-term goal) and in the overall challenge, building a routine from repeated practice (long-term goal). 

Track Your Workout Routine Progress - PushUpAndMore.Com

Be Positive – The Mindset – Celebrate Every Success

If possible, do your exercise with a mirror on the side or record yourself. This self-assessment focuses on the first moves: executing your pushups with the proper form is easier when you have more energy. A good pushup is a plank position in motion: everything should be straight and in line from head to feet. Start turning a blind eye on the quality of your pushup movements when you feel you will not make it quantity-wise if you keep going that way. Reaching your target on quantity allows you to feel you are not moving backward in your progress. Only pay attention to the form during the whole set of pushups if you think you have some room for improvement.

Celebrating Every Success Help To Stick To Your Workout Routine - PushUpAndMore.Com

Trick Your Brain To “Tick The Box” Fast and Move On: Use Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” In short, the more time is allowed to complete a task, the more time this task will take. Parkinson’s Law was first published in The Economist magazine on 19 November 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British writer. The takeaway is that we work overall better with tight deadlines as it prevents non-value-added actions and initiatives from being taken.

Although Parkinson’s Law is usually mentioned in a corporate and administration context, we can use it in a fitness context to limit the risk of finding activities that come up as a pretext for not doing. It is also helpful to finish a session or series under time constraints.

In short, Parkinson’s Law suggests that time guidelines help reduce procrastination. More particularly, time-boxing your fitness activity is a practical approach to firstly show up to your challenge (“a time at which you show up no matter what”); secondly, execute this challenge within a targeted timeframe (e.g., 150 pushups within 4 minutes in my case). Combining the time-boxing mindset with a “carrot approach” is an excellent way to handle activities that may be a bit hard to swallow.

“Let’s do this 15-minute workout, and then chillax!”

If you feel lazy to get started with your challenge on a specific day, set yourself a hard deadline to accomplish your exercise. Allow yourself a small reward to look forward to if you get it done. It can be noon now, and you may feel lazy. You have been working all morning, and you haven’t enjoyed the beautiful weather yet. You think you are missing out on what life is supposed to be. This exact moment is an opportunity to trick your brain into accomplishing your short-term goal. Here your short-term goal is “showing up to your daily fitness routine and get it done.” In general, it could be anything.

At this exact moment, when you feel you deserve to “stop working and enjoy life,” what about looking forward to something that excites you a little bit? It can be looking forward to getting your lunch meal or coffee under the beautiful sunshine you haven’t enjoyed yet or anything else that will trigger an immediate satisfaction. If you get your exercise done within the next 20 minutes? Such a timing challenge can motivate you to get it done, tick the box, and move on.

The Kind Of Feeling When You Have Completed Your Workout Routine - PushUpAndMore.Com

You may not always have a “carrot” in mind to motivate you when you are supposed to realize your challenge, but this carrot might be quite welcome at the beginning of your journey to push you. If you feel you’re in this category, try to be opportunistic. When you’re craving for something that can be postponed by 20 minutes, seize the opportunity to fit in your quick fitness session. Postpone this stuff you are looking forward to and do your fitness challenge straight away. When suffering during the fitness exercise, think about the upcoming sweet stuff coming in a few minutes. It is just a matter of minutes, and you will be able to relax and savor your accomplishment. Read more about the science behind motivation here.

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