Exercise Adherence: 14 Tips On How To Stick To Your Training Plan

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One of the biggest challenges that people face after they start an exercise plan is sticking to itThere is any number of reasons that might make it hard to keep up your workout routine. 

Sometimes, we do too much too soon and become disenfranchised with how sore we feel or how challenging the workouts are, or perhaps even get injured. More often, we lose motivation or start prioritizing work, family, or some other hobby over exercise.

Exercise adherence refers to your ability to stick to your training plan. If you’ve had trouble staying consistent with your workout routine or have lost motivation several weeks after starting with vigor, you’re not alone.

Although exercise adherence can be a real challenge for a lot of people, the good news is that there are a variety of different tips and strategies that can potentially help you stick to your training plan and prevent a falloff. 

In this article, we will share some of the best tips for how to stick to your training plan and stay consistent with exercise, even if you’ve struggled in the past.

We will cover: 

  • What Is Exercise Adherence?
  • 14 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Workout Plan

Let’s dive in! 

A person tying their shoe.

What Is Exercise Adherence?

Exercise adherence refers to how well you can stick to your training plan, staying consistent with your workout routine without taking unintentional breaks.

Exercise adherence is a major challenge for many people who start a training program. 

Unfortunately, as we all know, the benefits of exercise and appreciable improvement in your fitness and body composition will only happen if you actually work out, so “falling off the wagon, “ so to speak, can sabotage your weight loss results, improvements in cardiovascular endurance, increases in strength, etc.

Building a consistent habit of routinely exercising and sticking to your training plan can be really difficult for a variety of reasons.

If you have found that you seem to start a workout routine and then abandon it after several weeks or months and then eventually start again, it’s often a good idea to try to take an audit of the situation and analyze why you think you stopped working out.

People rowing at the gym.

There are no right or wrong answers, and it shouldn’t be a process with any type of judgment ascribed to it. Rather, it’s just a helpful way to get clarity on the situation so that you can find the best strategies for how to stick to your workout plan in the future, knowing what your prior challenges were.

For example, many people get bored with their exercise routine because there is not enough variety, and it doesn’t keep them engaged.

If you have found yourself feeling bored with your training plan, it makes sense to take a proactive approach and make sure that your new workout routine includes lots of different varieties in terms of the type of exercise that you do and the format of the workouts you follow.

If you were having trouble being consistent working out because of feeling overwhelmed with your schedule and just being busy overall, you might be best served to try to establish a designated exercise time every day, such as first thing in the morning, before the busyness of life gets in the way. 

This might mean waking up a little bit early or prepping for work the night before, but carving out a “sacred“ workout time can help prevent your exercise from getting nixed from the to-do list every day.

Two people smiling and running.

14 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Workout Plan

Here are some tips for how to stick to your exercise routine. 

Depending on your personal challenges, some of these strategies may work better for you than others. One or more of these tips may help safeguard against falling out of your workout routine or abandoning your training plan after a few weeks or months.

In this way, using some of these tips to help stick to your training plan acts like an insurance policy of sorts and can help you maintain momentum to keep working out even when you don’t feel like it.

#1: Work Out With Friends

Social support and encouragement can go a long way in terms of improving exercise adherence.

Working out with friends, coworkers, or family members can make exercise more engaging. Plus, you will have the accountability of a workout partner who is expecting you to show up and support them as well.

People enjoying a Zumba class.

#2: Choose an Activity You Like

We often get caught up in asking questions like, “What is the best type of exercise to do?“

Of course, we want our workouts to actually do something to improve our health and fitness, but the truth is, the best type of exercise is not necessarily the most effective or efficient form of exercise overall, but the type of exercise that you will enjoy. 

Rather than trying to run if you hate running, or do intense HIIT classes at the gym when you’d much prefer to do an indoor cycling workout on your own, pick an activity you actually enjoy doing and make that your primary form of exercise.

If you hate your workout routine, you’re not going to want to do it.

#3: Keep It Varied

Mixing up the type of exercise you do will not only challenge different muscles and improve your overall fitness, but it can also prevent boredom by keeping things fresh.

#4: Try Something New

If you haven’t found a type of exercise you enjoy, try something new.

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, like indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, or Zumba.

People in a gym class.

#4: Start Slowly

Many people dive into a new fitness routine with gusto but end up doing too much too soon. This can lead to excessive soreness, injuries, and burnout.

Build up gradually and progress as your body adapts.

#6: Set Goals

Setting big goals—like running a 5k or even a marathon—can be a super motivating way to be compelled to stick to your training plan. 

However, it’s also helpful to make small, realistic, measurable goals in the meantime that get you towards bigger goals. This can prevent feeling overwhelmed or defeated when workouts get tough and you’re still so far from your goal endpoint.

Goals like “This week I will work out three times,” “Today, I will run 5 minutes without stopping,” and “I will do a 20-minute cycle workout on my spin bike this morning” can be actionable, realistic goals that you can check off.

Accomplishing each little goal along the way can build self-efficacy.

A training log.

#7: Keep a Training Log

Whether you use a fitness app or good old pen and paper, recording your workouts can help you feel proud and see that you’ve accomplished something. You can also track your progress and see how far you’ve come when motivation wanes.

#8: Choose Convenience 

If you’re super busy, choose a type of exercise and time of day that is convenient.

Consider at-home workouts, a gym right near your job, or taking a daily walk out your front door right after dinner every day.

The more convenient and seamless your exercise routine can fit into your life, the easier it will be to stick to it.

#9: Set a Routine

As previously mentioned, build a habit of consistent exercise by setting a schedule for your workout time every day.

Scheduling workouts like any other appointment in your calendar may help you get them done.

Someone pointing at their running watch.

#10: Join an Online Fitness Community

There are online fitness communities on social media platforms and workout apps that can help build social support. Some of these apps have incentives for being consistent with your workout routine. 

You can earn badges or have your activity converted into donations to your favorite charity.

#11: Get New Gear

Sometimes, all it takes to have the motivation to exercise is some fun new gear. 

Consider investing in a fitness watch or heart rate monitor that can keep track of your activity, some new shoes, or even a piece of exercise equipment for your home that you are really excited to use.

#12: Reward Yourself

Build a reward system into your training plan. 

For example, for every month that you stick to your training plan, get yourself a massage or a new smart water bottle or earbuds for exercising.

There’s nothing wrong with incentivizing yourself to exercise.

A person enjoying a massage.

#13: Join a Fitness Class

If you are a social person, you might thrive in a group exercise setting. Look into exercise classes at your local gym and see if any of them appeal to you. 

You might make new friendships and find that the direction given by the instructor takes the thinking out of your training plan and makes exercise more fun.

#14: Try a Fitness Challenge 

A 30-day fitness challenge can help you stay motivated to work out every day while simultaneously building a habit of consistent physical activity.

Above all, to increase exercise adherence, keeping in mind the benefits of exercise can help remind you why you are doing it, and trying to have fun can go a long way as well.

Looking for some fitness goals to start out? Check out our 96 Goal Ideas For Your Next Training Cycle, and find something that works for you!

A notebook page listing goals to assist with exercise adherence.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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