Fortunately, economists and psychologists have been studying how to crack the code of what compels us to repeatedly do something we don’t always want to do. Here are some of their best strategies to boost workout motivation.
1. Give Yourself a Real Reward
Sure, some people might be motivated by vague goals such as “better health” or "weight loss". But if that’s not doing it for you then make the benefits of working out more tangible, such as treating yourself to new clothes or an episode of Game of Thrones afterwards.
2. Sign a Commitment Contract
We can make promises to ourselves all day long, but research shows we’re more likely to follow through with pledges when we make them in front of friends.
You can up the ante even more by signing a gym contract for a set period of time. say I’m going to make a commitment to do something for a certain amount of time, such as exercising 30 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks. If I don’t do that, I’m going to pay some kind of penalty, whether it’s monetary or the embarrassment of having friends know I didn’t live up to my word.”
An extrinsic reward is powerful because your brain can latch on to it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile. It increases the odds the routine becomes a habit.
Over time, the motivation becomes intrinsic, as the brain begins to associate sweat and pain with the surge of endorphines— those feel-good chemicals released in the brain that are responsible for that “I-feel-freaking-amazing” rush you get after a great gym session. Once you’ve trained your brain to recognize that the workout itself is the reward, you won’t even want the treat.