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29 Smart Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out

Prove your haters wrong, hoard your medals, and stop washing your hair. (Plus 26 other awesome tips to get off the couch and go.)

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us how they stay motivated to exercise and how they make it through tough workouts. Check out the awesome tips they shared.

1. Wash your hair only on days you work out. / Via Instagram: @thundercrackers

Real life, I only allow myself to wash my hair after working out. So if I don’t for a couple days… I have to face the ridicule of my peers haha. Or my hair gets too tangled from all the baby powder. —danalil

2. Put on your workout clothes. / Via Instagram: @a_keck

When I can't be bothered I usually just go and put on my running stuff anyway. You feel like a dick pretty quickly if you change out of running stuff without actually going running. —Jemma Beedie, via Facebook


3. Write down how you feel after every workout.

Benzcanon / Getty Images

I write down how I feel after a workout every single time. So, when I am low on motivation to wake up and go for a run or a workout, I pull out the doc and read how great I felt after completing a five-miler. This really works for me because I get out of the bed knowing that at the end of the workout, I feel the same amazing feeling again! —Aishwarya Subramanian, via Facebook

4. Remember why you started.

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I remember all those times I tried clothes on and they didn't look good because of the extra weight, or the times I wanted to wear shorts and weren't brave enough. That always gets my ass moving — it's not about keeping the motivation, it's about remembering why you started in the first place, and asking if you really want to start all over again because you couldn't be bothered. —Rosamund Llewelyn, via Facebook

5. Ask yourself: "Will I regret skipping this workout?"

I ask myself if I will regret in any way not working out. And once I'm there [I ask myself] if I'd regret, even in the smallest way, stopping when it gets hard. —Gillian Wenzel, via Facebook

6. Sign up for classes at boutique studios. / Via Instagram: @abrunson7

Honestly, instead of joining a gym I just pay per exercise class at boutique fitness studios. It seems more expensive in the long run, but the only time I miss a class I sign up for is when I have zero choice since skipping has an actual dollar amount attached. Plus the class structure guarantees not only that I show up, but that I stick it out for the full 45 minutes. Nobody wants to be THAT person who walks out early or the person who's slacking. It may not be the most cost-effective, but it gets me to actually work out and that's what is most important to me! —Erica Taylor


7. Try group fitness.

Mike Powell / Getty Images

Group fitness classes keep me motivated. I look forward to seeing the other participants and instructor. The energy of the group keeps me going in the moments that I want to quit. I feel like I'm accountable to keep at it for the full time. You never want to be the person who quits and leaves early. I do so much more than I would if I were working out on my own. —Kathleen Vandevoorde, via Facebook

8. Get addicted to the post-exercise endorphin rush. / Via Instagram: @sudearaujo

My motivation is the knowledge that I will have an awesome endorphin rush afterward and run around, smiling like an idiot for a few hours. I am seriously addicted. —Kimberly Lewis, via Facebook

9. Pretend there's a crowd and it's going wild.

4774344sean / Getty Images

Sometimes when a workout gets tough and I want to quit I imagine that I’m a professional athlete and that an audience is watching me expecting me to give it my all. It’s embarrassing but it does work to motivate me. —victoriac44c2348fc

10. Surround yourself with motivation. / Via

I hang up motivational pictures on my mirrors, like Kendall Jenner or just good sayings. I also have my goal weight written everywhere — car mirror, refrigerator, calendar, etc. — so it’s a constant reminder to work toward that number. —Gabrielle Capasso


11. Give yourself micro-challenges.

John Howard / Getty Images

I enjoy challenging myself but only with little challenges. So if I’m three minutes away from a five-minute mark I’ll push myself to the five minutes. By then I’m only a short distance from a 0.5 or 1K marker so I’ll push myself to that. Then back to the next five-minute marker and so on. —libbyc430e1d350

12. And give yourself longer-term challenges too.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed / Via

In February, I challenged myself to do 200 miles of cardio (ski machine, elliptical, rowing machine, bike). I kept a log (old-school pen and paper) and logged in how much I did on what machine that day. When all was said and done, I averaged six days a week and ended up with 220 miles. There were several days that I wanted to skip, but did not due to the challenge. My pants are already feeling looser. —tabbycat31

13. Work out with people who will cheer you on.

Having people standing behind me, yelling and jumping up and down when I’m stuck at the bottom of a heavy squat is the best motivator. Because it hypes me up, but also because it means everybody else in the gym looks over to see what’s going on, and fear of failing with that big of an audience makes me at least 20% stronger.Christine Byrne


15. Enjoy the healthy balance of delicious food and enjoyable exercise. / Via Instagram: @buzzfeedfood

Quite simply, I like to eat, so working out gives me balance. Plus it's great for fighting depression — a natural (and fun!) mood booster. —Erika Purtell

16. Do it for the pictures. / Via Instagram: @amandastewart

When I don’t want to go for a run, I pick a scenic route and tell myself that I can stop to take as many pictures as I want. I guess I do it for the Insta.bridgetb4399ba894

17. Use the app Zombies, Run! / Via Instagram: @gobeast_

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Zombies, Run! The best app EVER. Nothing will get your feet pounding the pavement harder than the sound of the undead breathing down your neck. And I have never 'shipped anything as hard as I 'ship Jack and Eugene. —Mary-Ruth Hooper

18. Make whatever you do to exercise your favorite thing. / Via

I never need to motivate myself, because I found a sport that I love. I literally wait all day to get to the climbing gym, and my body is showing the benefits without extra effort. I even started doing abs (which I absolutely hate) because I want to get better at climbing! —Victoria Sowinski, via Facebook


19. Think about how you're sticking it to your doubters. / Via Instagram: @beaumerrr

I know this is childish, but my ex called me fat. So, here's to never seeing that ass again, and to my new better ass. —Mia Durano, via Facebook

20. Hang out with high-energy kids. / Via Instagram: @jai_amaru_13

My kids motivate me to keep working out. I want to be able to have a lot of energy to keep up with them, and all of the activities they like to do. —Lucy Eaton, via Facebook

21. Compete with any/everyone. / Via Instagram: @throwbackfit

I secretly compete with whoever is exercising beside me, whether I know them or not. —amylouises

22. Do it for the post-race medal. / Via Instagram: @wheelchairjitsu

I’m a runner and nothing motivates me more than knowing that at the end of the race I am running that I will get a medal (yes, I’m a race bling whore). This has all worked for me during the last four years because I’ve dropped 70 pounds and kept it off. —kerrif445231ccb


23. Vow to never be last to cross the finish line. / Via Instagram: @finishlinectpost

I've never been the last one across the finish line, but I was once second-to-last. So, what works for me is, "Do you really want to be the last one across the finish line?" —La Re, via Facebook

24. Make it a friend meetup. / Via Instagram: @tiffanyy84

Going with friends always keeps me motivated; whenever I'm meeting friends at the gym, I'm excited to hang out with them, rather than grumpy about getting off my couch. Honestly getting to the gym is a bigger obstacle than anything in my workout; once I'm there, I'm pumped to get started. —Helene Støvring, via Facebook

25. Trick yourself into going longer distances. / Via Instagram: @david.tham

I run outside and I'll do two miles before turning around, which forces me to run two more miles to get home. —Allison Scholl, via Facebook

26. Tell yourself: "I just have to warm up, then I can go home." / Via Instagram: @diamondcrossfit

When I feel like I want to skip training, I tell myself I just have to go into the changing room and get into my gym kit, then I can go home. Nothing hard about that, it's not even exercise. Then, when I'm in my gym kit in the changing room, I feel a bit silly, so I tell myself I just have to do my warm-up routine. Then, when I'm warmed up, eh, I'm sure I could manage one set of overhead presses. Then, might as well do the other two sets. And hey, I used all that effort to get the barbell loaded, I might as well add more weight and do those three sets of front squats too. And then, well, there's only deadlifts left to do, might as well do them. Although I tell myself I could go home after this next set, I've never yet actually found myself going home until I've finished the whole thing. Stops it being so daunting, especially when I'm finding it particularly hard. —Sarah Barr, via Facebook


27. Track your successes. / Via Instagram: @bkissesoflove

I literally have a specific color highlighter that I use to mark the days I actually stay on track with diet and workout plus I have rewards for reaching my goals which change not just improving but also consistency. —James Chase, via Facebook

28. Think about how much stronger you're getting. / Via Instagram: @couellet07

Growing stronger and more conditioned is my main motivation... Knowing that your body just did something it couldn't do a few weeks back is an amazing feeling. Also, abs. —Alejandra Prada, via Facebook

29. Listen to the voice inside that says, "I can do this!" / Via Instagram: @mohamed_abdelghanysalah

I choose to listen to the voice inside me that says, "I can do this! I want to do this!" I choose to ignore the voice that asks "Who do you think you are?" or says "You aren't a real runner, just give up!" I choose to just get out and go for that run, or that workout, and live with the benefit! That's what motivation means to me. —ThisFat GirlRuns, via Facebook

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