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10 Proven Ways to Conquer Your Exercise Struggles

Getting yourself to workout is easier than you think.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Are you struggling to exercise? You aren't alone. Many people have difficulty getting to the gym or motivating once they are there. However, there are many things you can do to maximize your chances of getting a good workout. Here are ten proven ways to conquer your exercise struggles, from expert tips to research-based hacks.

Set Realistic Goals


Sara Haley, American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified trainer and instructor, recommends starting by setting realistic goals. "The smaller, the better, or underestimate so you set yourself up for success," she says. "For instance, if you want to lose 10 pounds, set your goal for 7 to 8 pounds. That way, when you lose 5, you don't feel so bad."

Force Yourself to Exercise

Fitness workout at home. Healthy fit young woman doing triceps dips exercise in the living room.

Make yourself exercise, no matter what. "Stop waiting to feel motivated," Haley encourages. "Sometimes you just have to make yourself."

Do Something You Enjoy

Millennial black couple doing lateral flexion exercise, working out together at home during coronavirus quarantine. Pretty young lady and her boyfriend making side bending pose, panorama

If you hate running, then find another workout that sparks joy, says Haley. "Do something you actually enjoy," she encourages. "The more you like the movement, the more likely you are to do it more often."

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Be Accountable

Concentrated beautiful young sportswoman doing plank exercise on mat in gym

Having an accountability buddy helps ensure you do what you say you are going to do. "Accountability is everything. If you share your goals with someone you love, you are more likely to carry them out," explains Haley.

Give Yourself Grace


Haley also recommends giving yourself a little grace. "You are going to have your ups and downs. We all do. Forgive yourself and keep moving forward," she says.

Don't Compare Yourself to Others


One of the most discouraging things you can do is compare yourself to others, says Risa Sheppard, Master Pilates trainer and creator of The Sheppard Method. "We all come with our own insecurities and expectations.  Everyone is built differently and has a different background in fitness, and although they appear to have it all, believe me, they do not.  So do as best as you cannot to compare or attempt to try an exercise just because the person next to you looks great doing it. Know that you are doing this for yourself and no one else," she continues. No one is perfect, and neither are you. Just do the best you can and leave at that."

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Trick Yourself

Woman doing a workout with dumbbells at the gym

Soraya (, a weight loss coach and TikTok influencer with a massive following on social media, revealed one of her workout hacks in a viral video. When she doesn't feel like working out, she sets a goal for just 10 minutes of exercise. However, once she gets to the gym and hits the 10-minute mark, she tells herself "I'll do one more thing and then I'll leave," she says. "45 minutes later I finish my whole workout."

Make a Playlist

Young woman taking a break from exercise outdoors. Fit young female athlete stopping for rest while jogging along the river.

If you have trouble staying motivated at the gym, put together a heart-pumping playlist of your favorite tunes. Studies show that faster-paced music tends to help improve athletic performance when a person engages in low-to-moderate level exercise, either by increasing distance traveled, pace, or repetitions completed.

Treat Yourself

Beautiful young woman relaxing in Finnish sauna

Another way to get motivated to hit the gym? Incentivize yourself. Do you love a good steam room or sauna session? Join a gym where you can unwind after your workout. Or, set a weekly goal, and if you achieve it, treat yourself to your favorite dessert or drink. Studies show that incentives can work when it comes to getting yourself to exercise.

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Watch a Show or Talk to a Friend

Group of Six Athletic People Running on Treadmills, Doing Fitness Exercise. Athletic and Muscular Women and Men Actively Workout in the Modern Gym. Sports People Workout in Fitness Club. Side View

While the idea of spending 30 minutes on the treadmill might seem boring, make it more fun by adding an activity to the mix. Whether that is catching up on your favorite Netflix series or chatting with a friend on the phone or right next to you, if you are enjoying yourself, the time will pass by more quickly.

💪🔥Body Booster: Try a workout that you actually enjoy. The more you like it, the more likely you are to do it more often.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more