You know how important regular exercise is to your overall health. But you might have trouble fitting a consistent workout routine into your busy schedule. If that’s the case, you’re far from alone. In fact, one of the top excuses that trainers hear from their clients in response to their lack of workouts is that their schedules just won’t allow it.
Maintaining a regular workout routine is immensely important in ensuring that you keep up with one on a long-term basis, though. “When we work out on a regular basis, it becomes just a normal part of our day—like eating breakfast, brushing our teeth, and taking our dog for a walk,” explains Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., personal trainer, doctor of nutrition, and owner of eatrightfitness. “It becomes ingrained into our day-to-day schedule. It’s no longer the voice in our head saying ‘I have to work out.’ Rather, this voice says ‘it’s time to work out.’”
Turns out that a busy schedule isn’t the only thing potentially holding you back from maintaining a consistent workout routine. Here, fitness professionals share some of the biggest mistakes exercisers make that jeopardize them from having a consistent workout routine.
1. You’re not making it a priority.
This one might sound obvious, but it’s the number one thing that costs people consistency in their workout routine. In short, there is a big difference between “making time” and “finding time.” “Making time implies [that] you are dedicating a portion of your day to your health and working out. Finding time means [that] you’re likely squeezing it in or waiting until the end of the day after everything else takes priority,” says Adams. “If you make time and schedule your workouts, that’s like a meeting with yourself. You see it on the calendar and you are more likely to hold yourself to it.”
2. You’re switching things up too often.
Incorporating different types of exercise into your routine is a great thing. But if you’re constantly trying the latest and greatest fitness craze and then hopping onto the next “it” workout, how can you gauge your progress? Adams encourages his clients to try new workouts. However, he also urges them to revisit them later so they can measure their progress. “Save those cool workouts and make a plan to do them more than one time. This helps you see results,” he adds.
3. You’re not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is one of the most fundamental components of maintaining a consistent workout plan. “There’s no denying that you need sleep to perform your best. But it’s also an important component of the post-workout recovery process,” explains Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “Rigorous exercise breaks down existing muscle fibers and tissues, which take time to repair,” he explains. This muscle rebuilding process is primarily done at night. So, sleep is essential to allow your body to repair itself in time for your next workout.
4. You’re creating too many goals to master at once.
Goals are great, and what will inevitably help you reach your larger fitness goals. However, as Tara Allen, RN, women’s health nurse, personal trainer, health coach, and nutritionist, explains, attempting to set too many goals at once might set you up for inevitable failure. “If you’re someone who creates the goal of sneaking in an hour workout, drinking eight glasses of water, finally paying those bills that have been piling up, and whatever else has been lingering on your to-do list the last year, one or more of those things will fall to the wayside,” she says. Instead, she suggests focusing on making one small change at a time until it becomes a habit.
5. You’re not tracking your workouts.
You track your progress in other areas of life, be it work or a hobby you have, such as painting. So, you want to be sure to do the same with your workout success. “Keeping a simple exercise journal helps you see how your strength is improving, your running times are longer and you are being more consistent with frequency,” says Adams. “If you don’t keep track, you are more likely to not work out on a regular basis.”
6. You’re quitting too early before you see results.
“If you are going to throw in the towel after a week or two because you are not impressed with the lack of definition in your biceps, you’ll never reach your goals,” warns Allen. “Working out is a lifestyle change. It’s something [that] you have to stick with in order to see results.”
Instead of focusing solely on results, she recommends finding something you can enjoy about your exercise routine off the bat. This could be your alone time, the chance to listen to a podcast or favorite playlist, etc. “Regardless of what it is, giving into your human desire for instant gratification will help you stick with your routine—even when you’re feeling unmotivated,” she adds.