Getting into a new workout routine all guns blazing may satisfy those “no pain, no gain” folks. But slow and steady is the smarter (and safer) approach for long-term success.
The number one reason to ease into exercise? Injury prevention. Even with the best tools and fitness trackers, going all in too aggressively puts strain on your muscles and joints. You need to increase duration and intensity gradually.
Sure, you may not see major fitness transformations overnight. But easing in lets you build a strong foundation of proper form. That prevents burnout down the road.
Why Is It Important to Ease Into an Exercise Program?
It is essential to ease into an exercise program because your limits may change. This is regardless of whether the exercise is relatively new to you or you’ve been doing it for years. Easing into an exercise program not only reduces the risk of injury but also decreases the likelihood of lifestyle changes and keeps you motivated.
How Do I Design a Personal Fitness Program?
Designing a personal fitness program is not a walk in the park. Luckily, the adoption of the following practices can increase the success chances of your personal fitness program.
First, break the fitness goals into smaller steps. This will reduce fatigue and keep you engaged for some time. You should choose a fitness activity that you have a personal interest in. Lastly, adapt a reward program and make sure you enjoy the small wins.
Why is it Often Easier to Start a Fitness Program than it is to Maintain One?
January 1st hits and gyms across the country get flooded with eager new members armed with fresh resolutions. We vow that this year, things will be different! We’ll finally get in shape!
But then February rolls around and that crowded gym starts looking a little…emptier. Those once-full workout classes now have some open spots. And that new workout gear sits sadly unused in the corner.
What happened? Where did that fiery passion from the start of the year go? Why is it so much easier to START a new fitness program than maintain one long-term?
“The beginning of a fitness program is fueled by motivation and enthusiasm, but maintaining it over the long haul takes self-discipline and habit formation.” – John Smith, personal trainer and author of Getting Fit For Life
As a fitness enthusiast who has seen this January gym boom and February gym bust firsthand many times, I have some thoughts on why it’s so much harder to stick to fitness goals versus just kicking them off. And I am not alone, as you can see from the stats below:
|80%||Percentage of people who abandon their New Year’s resolution after 1 month|
|92%||Percentage of people who abandon their New Year’s resolution after 6 months|
|67%||Percentage of gym memberships that go unused|
|20%||Percentage of people who make long-term lifestyle changes after starting a diet|
|62%||Percentage of people who experience a motivational slump after starting a new workout routine|
|22%||Percentage increase in gym attendance in January compared to other months|
|72%||Percentage who cite lack of discipline as the main reason for abandoning fitness goals|
Reason 1: Motivation vs Discipline
Beginning a new workout routine is fueled heavily by motivation. You’re excited by the idea of getting fit, amped up by a fresh surge of enthusiasm. Everything feels new and fun – you practically sprint into the gym each day! But that level of excitement is hard to sustain over months and years.
Over time, motivation starts to dip. That’s when you have to rely more on discipline – doing it even when you don’t feel that initial excitement. Discipline is harder to maintain than motivation. It requires grit to workout when it stops being novel and fun. Many aren’t prepared for this shift.
Reason 2: More Effort with Time
In the beginning, any workout routine you start as a beginner will likely give you quick improvements. Your strength and stamina skyrocket quickly when you’re starting from zero. You recover fast. It’s very rewarding.
But as your fitness level rises, gains come slower. You have to put in more effort for smaller payoffs. Progress isn’t perfectly linear either. When effort escalates but results taper off, it’s understandable for motivation to drop.
Reason 3: Lack of Accountability
Starting a fitness program is a solo effort. You decide you want to get in shape and take those first steps on your own. There’s no one else relying on you showing up. But maintaining it long-term is easier with accountability.
Having an exercise buddy, personal trainer, or someone else to check in on your progress raises the stakes. You don’t want to let down a partner by bailing on workouts. But if it’s just you and your willpower? Cracks form much easier.
Reason 4: Novelty Wears Off
That first trip to the gym is exciting – you get to try all the machines and classes! It feels like an adventure. But after a few weeks, that shiny novelty wears off. It becomes firmly rooted as part of your routine. And routines can easily turn into ruts without change.
Staying engaged over time requires actively working to spice things up – trying new equipment, classes, gyms, or training styles. Failing to do so makes it feel repetitive.
Reason 5: Loss of Routine
Starting a program means committing to a structured routine. But busier lives or unexpected events throw obstacles in maintaining that structure. Missing workouts becomes increasingly easy without rigid scheduling and routine. Lack of structure kills consistency.
What Practices Can I Adapt to Get My Exercise Program Back On?
Although there are many ways to get the exercise program back on, feeling guilty about dropping the exercise program in the first place is the least effective way. You can, however, consider identifying the cause of noncompliance, adjusting the reward system to improve motivation, and prepare for future challenges. These are effective ways to get an exercise program back on track.
Implementing an exercise program will help you build consistency, enhance your confidence, and produce better results in the long run. The results are much better when you have someone or a smart device to help you reach your exercise goal. We hope you will find this guide insightful and helpful. Happy workout sessions!
What causes the initial motivation when starting a fitness program?
The motivation that comes with starting a new fitness program is often fueled by enthusiasm for positive change, an eagerness to improve your health and appearance, and the novelty of trying something new. Having a fresh goal gives you a surge of energy and excitement around exercise. This makes it easy to jump in headfirst.
Why does motivation tend to decline after the initial phase?
That initial rush of motivation is difficult to sustain long-term. Once the novelty wears off and exercising becomes routine, it can start to feel like a chore. Progress happens more slowly compared to the rapid improvements often seen in the beginning. Hitting plateaus can be discouraging. Boredom can also set in if you don’t actively work to keep your routine fresh and engaging.
How can someone boost their motivation when it starts to drop?
Switching up your workouts, tracking your progress, exercising with others, reminding yourself of your goals, finding forms of exercise you truly enjoy, and focusing on achievements can all help boost lagging motivation. Having an accountability partner also raises the stakes. It’s important to be patient and kind to yourself as well – ups and downs in motivation are inevitable.
What is the difference between motivation and discipline?
Motivation is being energized and excited to work out. It’s the initial “want to” that makes exercise appealing. Discipline involves doing it even on days you don’t feel motivated. Discipline keeps you going through motivational ups and downs until exercise becomes an ingrained habit.
Why can a lack of structure make it harder to maintain a program?
Starting an exercise program means implementing a new structure. But busy lives can make it hard to maintain that disciplined schedule. When other priorities compete for your time, it’s easy to let workouts slide without rigid structure. Lack of planning and routine can lead to skipped sessions, and eventually giving up.
How can someone improve their discipline related to fitness goals?
Focus on habit formation, schedule workouts well in advance, exercise at the same time each day, join classes to increase accountability, have a backup plan for busy days, find an accountability partner, record your progress, and remind yourself regularly why you started a fitness program in the first place. Discipline gets stronger the longer you stick with it.