There’s no denying it: it’s not easy to get results out of your workouts without a routine. But there’s no denying this either: it’s not easy to establish a routine and stay motivated to stick to it week in and week out. We’re human after all, so developing a fitness routine is as physical as it is mental. Whether you’re just getting started or need to reinvigorate a plan you’re already executing, here are a few ways to set yourself up for success: 

GET YOURSELF THERE. Often, the hardest part of sticking to a routine isn’t the exercise, it’s getting yourself to the gym. So instead of focusing on the workout, focus on getting yourself to the place where you’re going to do it first. Block off your schedule, book yourself a calendar appointment or even setting a phone reminder are all ways to help!

BE PATIENT. It’s easy to expect immediate results, so when your expectations don’t meet reality remind yourself that lasting changes don’t happen overnight. We also recommend thinking of the process of reaching your fitness goals as an essential part of the journey instead of a means to an end.  Start small and let progress grow overtime!

BE FLEXIBLE. When you hear the word routine, a strict schedule might come to mind, but in this instance, the opposite is more likely to get you results. The all-or-nothing approach actually makes it easier to drop your routine when life gets in the way of your plan. Structure is good, so put those workouts on your calendar, but if your day goes a little sideways, do as much of your workout as you can when you can. 

STACK YOUR HABITS. As we age, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, which means it does away with connections between neurons that don’t get used while building up the connections that get used more frequently. Using old habits to build new habits can help you establish a routine. For example, as you’re getting ready for bed, use an existing habit like brushing your teeth to start a new habit of setting out your workout clothes so they’re ready for you in the morning. Learn more about habit stacking

BREAK IT DOWN. Don’t focus on the total time of your workout or the high number of reps you’re hoping to accomplish. Break it down into getting through the next minute instead. Dividing your workout into more mentally manageable chunks can make you more present, focused, and motivated. 

CELEBRATE SMALL WINS. Set a goal, but don’t forget to recognize the milestones along the way. Getting to that two-minute plank is a big deal, but so is improving your ability to hold that pose from 20 seconds to 30 seconds after two weeks of your new workout routine. Take pride in the process. 

ACCEPT THE OFF DAYS. There are going to be days when you’re not going to make it to the gym no matter how hard you try. It happens to the most avid exercisers, so avoid judging yourself too harshly and don’t read too much into your lack of motivation at that particular moment. It’s totally normal, so embrace those difficult feelings, but don’t internalize them. 

MIX IT UP. Sometimes the best way to reinvigorate your workout routine is to try something different. Whether that’s switching up the scenery by heading outdoors, giving personal training a try, using a piece of equipment you’ve never tried before, or taking an HWX studio class you’ve never been to. While it may not exactly fit your workout plan, it might lead to the discovery of something new that you’d like to incorporate further. 

And remember: dulcius ex asperis. That’s Latin for sweeter after difficulties. Because starting a routine and maintaining it to reach your goals isn’t always easy, but it is oh so rewarding for the very same reason.