11 ways to boost workout motivation and enjoy exercise

We asked the experts to share their top tips for workout motivation, whatever the weather

Woman wearing yellow hat stretching arms in park before working out
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It's perfectly natural for workout motivation to come in peaks and troughs. You'll jump out of bed and lace up your running shoes in minutes one morning and then feel lethargic the next. 

Whether it's because of aching muscles, changes in temperature, the weather or just because your favorite pair of workout leggings are in the wash, if you want to find an excuse to ditch exercise for a day, you'll think of one. And there are some days when it's better to give in, like if you're feeling particularly tired or stressed. 

But some days you just need a pick-me-up. And if a pair of the best walking shoes or workout leggings aren't giving you the energy to get out this time around, there are other simple ways to get back that motivation quickly. 

How to boost workout motivation in 11 easy steps

woman in fitness outfit looking at her watch

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1. Track your progress 

Keeping a workout journal allows you to see progression each week and provides you with instant workout motivation. If your progress feels too slow and you're tempted to quit, read back through your journal.

“Whether it be your step count, the number of runs or the length of your yoga class, writing it down makes it all the more real and allows you to see how far you’ve come,” says fitness coach and founder of The Blast Plan, Annie Deadman (opens in new tab).

You can also keep track of your workouts using one of the best workout apps, many of which can be linked up to one of the best fitness trackers. You can then easily look through the app to reflect on your progress week by week. 

Having said this, don’t worry if you aren’t always improving. We’re not machines and everyone will have some weeks that are quieter than others.

Motivation will have its peaks and troughs and it’s important to also be kind to yourself. Realizing this will help motivation in the long term.

women walking together outside for workout motivation

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2. Working out with friends is better—even virtually

Start a WhatsApp group with friends to keep each other accountable. They are the people you can call on at the start of every week for Monday workout motivation or a little boost on the days you don't feel like working out. 

“Add friends and family members who are also on a mission to keep fit, and tell each other what you plan to do, or what you’ve done,” says Annie.

A study from Santa Clara University (opens in new tab) backs up the idea that working out with a friend will get you moving, as they found that participants were heavily influenced by the exercise behaviors of those around them. 

“If your friend says she’s off for a 5km walk in the morning, you might be more inclined to ensure you do the same," explains health coach Annie. "Equally, if you tell the group that you plan on lifting some weights this evening, you’ll be disappointing more than just yourself if you don’t do it.”

3. Switch up your songs

Music can help distract you while getting your sweat on but, for an even bigger boost, choose songs that have 125-140 beats per minute (bpm). 

"Scientists at North Bengal Medical College (opens in new tab) discovered the addition of a strong, rhythmic beat, such as a fast-paced musical track, could inspire people to pick up the pace," relationship and mind coach Ansar Ali (opens in new tab) says. 

You’ll also start associating the songs with good memories next time you exercise. “They’ll trigger happy memories associated with feeling calm, good and focused,” says Ansar. So whether it's ABBA's all-time greatest hits or a dedicated running playlist (opens in new tab) from the likes of Spotify, turn up the music the next time you go to workout. 

Woman buying new fitness clothes and equipment online

(Image credit: Getty Images / Kilito Chan)

4. Boost your workout motivation with new sportswear

While we know that workout motivation can be found in something as simple as a new playlist, having the right kit - that you love using - is vital when it comes to keeping up your energy in the longer term. 

"When opting for new kit, make sure it's comfortable and fits well. If it doesn't quite fit right, you'll be less motivated to work out in it," advises Annie. "The worst thing you can do is head out on a walk or run with leggings that slip down, for example. Equally, it's incredibly infuriating wearing a sports bra that doesn't hold your breasts in place." 

Wearing the right footwear and if running is your choice, opt for a pair of the best running shoes before heading out again. "Nobody wants to head off on a walk or run in uncomfortable shoes," Annie says. "You're destined to suffer from blisters and cuts, which will only delay your progress. Plus, being uncomfortable will give you an excuse to ditch the workout."

The good-quality kit will last you many workouts to come so it's worth investing in if you can. 

Run Breathe Tank Top Ladies: £13.99 | Nike (opens in new tab)

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This sleeveless tank top will go with your favorite pair of workout leggings to make a gym outfit that will keep your motivated for all of your fitness routines. The lightweight fit will keep you cool throughout your workout while the DriFit technology works to keep you sweat-free and along with the flat lock seams works to prevent chafing. It also comes in a clean white color if that suits your workout wardrobe better.

Goodmove Go Move Printed Cropped Gym Leggings: £19.50 | Marks & Spencer (opens in new tab)

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Complete your outfit with these fun but comfortable leggings. With a high-waisted fit these will keep you secure while you exercise, while the blackout fabric will save you from any see-through faux pas at the gym. The cropped cut is also a great option for when you're working out in the summer months as it helps keep your legs and ankles cooler. Two sneaky pockets also mean that you'll have plenty of space to keep your essential belongings while you work out.



5. Always warm up

If you’re already signed up to do a punishing HIIT treadmill workout then it may sound like extra exercise, but warming up and cooling down properly means you’re less likely to get injured or ache afterward. This, in turn, will mean you’ll feel more positive about working out again the next time. 

Even though the weather is starting to get warmer, it’s especially important if you're exercising when it's cold outside. "Your muscles will contract and be less elastic, which can increase the risk of injury when you exercise,” says personal trainer Chris Ward (opens in new tab)

Stretching for runners is particularly important. Always incorporate a few stretches into your routine for at least five minutes before and after your workout. 

6. Get workout motivation from the best fitness channels on YouTube

If you're bored of walking for weight loss or lacking in gym motivation, then it's time to turn to YouTube and find fitness inspiration for a new workout routine online that you can complete from the comfort of your own home. 

“If you’re working out at home, go on YouTube and find nine workouts which interest you,” says Annie. “Then email the links to yourself. If you do three of these a week, that’s three weeks’ worth of workouts. Then do them again (only better) in the following three weeks.”

Not sure where to start? Head to YouTube and simply search for the type of workout you want and the length. For example, "20-minute beginner dumbbell workout".

You could even head to Annie's follow-along workouts on the woman&home Facebook (opens in new tab) page.

woman swimming in a lake

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7. Book a fitness challenge 

Book an event or a challenge and work towards it. “Knowing you have a goal—and an end in sight—is often enough motivation to get people moving,” says Annie. “Doing this with a friend is also a good idea, as you can spur each other on.”

Not feeling confident enough to sign up now? Then you could always plan your own. How about setting a date in a few months where you’ll all agree to complete a challenge. This could be a 10km run (or further), a 12-hour overnight walk to raise money for charity or a dip in the sea to experience the benefits of wild swimming.

If you have the right equipment, a home workout, such as a virtual bike ride in your front room could also be your next challenge. 

8. Reconsider the destination of your run or cycle

Some of the best workouts are the ones where you’ll end up somewhere fun. Planning a destination where you can treat yourself can be a gamechanger when it comes to boosting levels of workout motivation. 

“A bike ride to your favorite bakery or coffee shop is a classic for a reason,” says Hilary Rowland, co-founder of Boom Cycle (opens in new tab). “It can become a tradition and then the exercise is just a part of your enjoyment of the process.”

Woman wearing blue waterproof jacket and hat hiking through the mountains on a cloudy day

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9. Think about booking a smarter break

When we think of a vacation, we're typically imagining something along the lines of sun loungers and maybe a frozen margarita. But there are plenty of active breaks where you can combine relaxation with activity, such as a hiking holiday. 

It can be a great break from the day-to-day exercise that may have become mundane for you, and it can remind you why you enjoy exercise or a particular activity so much. 

Cycling tours, water sports activity breaks or skiing are also all good options. 

10. Reduce morning decisions

Want to exercise first thing in the morning? Then get your workout clothes ready the night before. By making fewer decisions throughout the day, you’ll be able to keep your willpower high in the moments where you need it the most—such as getting out of a warm bed for a morning walk. 

Yoga for beginners or Pilates are good picks first thing as they also help with your energy levels.

11. Keep your options open

One of the biggest barriers to exercise is ease. If it's not easy, it's unlikely that we're going to do it. For example, if it's too hot or too wet outside, going for a run or a cycle is probably going to be off the cards. 

Having options for when this happens is a simple way to boost your exercise motivation. 

Keep two sports in mind to choose from—which have similar workout benefits—and just swap them as and when you need. Try:

  • Tennis or badminton
    You’ll gain improved coordination and agility in both these racket sports.
  • Swimming or indoor rowing
    Diving into a pool can sometimes seem less enticing, especially if you’re worrying about drying your hair in time to get back to work. An indoor rowing machine will give a great workout, combining strength and cardiovascular fitness, similar to swimming.
  • Walking or yoga
    There’s nothing like a stroll when it’s dry. If it’s pouring, try a yoga class instead. The meditative benefits are similar to that of a relaxing walk and your posture, flexibility and breathing all stand to improve.

Lucy Gornall is the former Health & Fitness editor at Future and a personal trainer specializing in pre and post-natal exercise.