Have you completed any sort of strength training challenge to then fall off the wagon after the challenge is done? If only forming habits were that easy. Research has proven that 90% of what people do each day is dictated by routine, which means that it’s human nature to simply revert to the comfort of our existing routines. This means making exercise a habit requires a bit of conscious effort and some willingness, so forming habits can be easier if you set yourself up for success. You, too, can fall in love with strength training.
To fall in love with strength training it is key to follow this simple, yet powerful, three-step neurological process: cue, reward, and execute. Here is how it works:
Cueing your desire to work out can show itself in a few different ways. One way to do this is to set out your workout clothes the night before. This cues your body in the morning that working out is what it is going to do first. Additionally, it can remind you that you already went through the effort to get your clothes ready, that you might as well go workout. Another way to cue getting your strength training in is to pick a time and stick to it each day you workout, whether it is you putting yourself through your own workout or jumping into a consistent class.
Speaking of putting yourself through a workout. It is key to have a plan with this too. Find a strength training plan, hire someone to write you one, or train you. Not only is knowing what time you are going to work out each time is key but also knowing what you are going to be training. Walking into the gym to have no clue what you are going to do leaves you bored. Having a plan will keep things interesting, leaving no room to just not go and get your body trying new strength exercises.
Rewards can be a lot different for people depending on their goals and interests. Your reward can be something as simple as rewarding yourself with your favorite way to relax at the end of the day on the days you workout, like a relaxing bath. A reward can be every time you workout, you get 5 minutes towards a massage. At the end of the month, reward yourself with a massage for however length you earned. If you strength train three days a week for a month, then you get an hour-long massage. Maybe you love watching TV but feel guilty about it, you can reward yourself with 30 minutes of guilt-free TV on the days you workout. The idea is to literally reward yourself and not to feel bad about it.
Keep going. All of the cues and rewards you have set up, keep those going week after week. What’s happening is, you’re training your brain to crave the reward aka the new routine. If you stick with your strength training, over time you’ll create good exercise habits and sustainable results. When you truly make exercise a habit, studies show, it can help keep weight off after you’ve lost it. Now isn’t that a win-win?
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