4 Tips for Making Exercising at Home a Habit

There has never been more interest to workout at home. With the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic, working out at home has become a safer alternative to heading down to your local gym.

But even though the convenience of working out at home can be awesome, it can be challenging building up the new habit of exercising in the confines of your own home, especially when you are used to going to the gym to train.

Fear not—you can use a lot of the same tricks and strategies in building the exercise habit in the first place. Here are some of my favorite tips for making workout out at home a habit.

Set a schedule.

We both know there will be days where the last thing you want to do is workout. Going to a gym was a good way to combat this—because there were no distractions, once you stepped through the door, the workout was more or less guaranteed to happen.

Exercising at home, on the other hand, provides a limitless number of distractions. Netflix, your phone, your pet, kids—and so on. When there is always something else that needs to be done (cleaning the kitchen, etc), working out begins to take a backseat.

Combat this by setting a clear schedule for your exercising. Setting a clear schedule means blocking off that chunk of time exclusively for working out. Set a time (“I am going to workout every day between 7:00 and 8:15am”) or attach it to a pre-existing behavior (“After I wake up, and have my morning coffee, I am going to run for 35 minutes on my treadmill”).

Having a set schedule for your training eliminates distractions and the mentally exhausting back and forth that comes with training when you “feel like it.”

Use what you have.

One of the downsides of working out at home is the lack of equipment. Unless you are one of the lucky few who have a fully stocked garage gym, bodyweight exercises will be the foundation of your workout routine.

There are plenty of resources out there, including lots of bodyweight exercise books and plans that are specially designed for training at home.

Even though you might not have all the fancy equipment that your home gym provides, if you have a little bit of space you can pump out an endless variety of workouts that are limited only by your creativity.

Make starting your workouts the goal.

The hardest part of training will always be starting. One of the sneaky tricks I use with myself and my clients is setting a starting time. Once you get started, and the blood gets flowing, you gain the momentum and motivation necessary to finish the workout.

Make starting the goal. This subtle shift in mindset takes advantage of something called instigation habits.

These are “starting” habits. Here is what that would look like:

  • “At 8:00am each morning I will do my warm-up and activation routine.”
  • “Each morning I will run to the end of the block.”

You don’t need to be perfect, just consistent.

When our usual habits and routines are taken away from us, it can leave us feeling disjointed, adrift. This is the power of habit and routine—we don’t realize how much they drive our behaviors until we don’t have access to them.

The reality is that habit formation, whether it’s working out everyday at home or eating better, is that it takes a sizable amount of time to make happen. Don’t get frustrated if that new training routine isn’t feeling super habitual after week one—research into habit formation shows that it takes an average of 66 days for automaticity to fully sink in.

While that may sound like a metric butt-ton of time, the good news is that the same study found that those who were successful in developing new habits weren’t perfect. They missed on occasion, but the key was that they avoided long streaks of misses and they got back on track each time they slipped.

In other words, aim for consistency and sustainability, not perfection.