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10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Work Out Alone

woman working out alone at home

Are you struggling for ways to stay motivated to work out alone? The pandemic closed many gyms, forcing a number of us to work out alone or not at all. Before the pandemic, those of us with gym memberships often used a variety of excuses not to go. Traffic was bad, work ran late, our dog ate our gym clothes – you get the gist. 

But now that many of us work from home, the old gym excuses have converted to “I don’t know what exercises to do,” “I don’t have equipment,” and “there’s no room in my house.”

Do these excuses sound familiar? 

When we’re not surrounded by people who hold us accountable and encourage us, it’s very easy to choose not to work out at all than to work out alone at home.

Recognizing that I need to improve my own motivation as much as everyone else, I decided to look at all the ways I can stay motivated to work out alone and stop being a lazy sloth. 

If you feel me and would prefer to avoid the gym germ farm, check out these 10 ways to stay motivated to work out alone at home.

This post contains affiliate links that allow me to earn small commissions from purchases made through these links at no added cost to you.  While the affiliate links allow me to cover site-related costs, I love every product I recommend and am happy to share them with you!

1. Set Goals

Yellow sign reading set goals

Recently, I talked about setting personal goals and achieving them, and many of the tips I mentioned in that post apply here. Most important, be sure your workout goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART)

What do you want to achieve by working out alone regularly? If you want to improve your strength, then your goal should look something like, “I want to be able to lift 10-pound dumbbells for three sets of 12 repetitions in two months.” If you want to improve your cardiovascular endurance, you might say, “I want to be able to run/walk three miles in X minutes in three months.” 

Mike Clancy, New York City-based strength and conditioning specialist told SELF that “your goal should seem relatively easy or within reach” to avoid mental obstacles that may discourage you. You should have a confidence level of 9 or 10 that you will achieve your goal, Clancy says.

2. Make a Commitment and Stick to It

workout calendar

Once you’ve set your goal or goals, you need to treat it like a business project. You’re the project manager, so map out all of your workouts on a calendar and stick to that schedule. Don’t go crazy at first, as you need to be able to stay with the schedule.  

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity spread throughout the week. Additionally, the AHA suggests moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity such as weights or other resistance training at least two days per week

Following these guidelines is a great place to start.  

When you think of all the hours you’ve spent binge-watching TV shows, or scrolling through social media, it’s really not that much. Each day you show up is success, and all that success builds confidence, leading to more results.

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3. Join an Online Community

woman working out alone online

Even though you’re at home, you can still stay motivated to work out alone by joining an online accountability group.  You can find these groups anywhere on Facebook and Instagram, as well as on individual websites. 

Some require a membership fee and are led by trainers and nutritionists, while others serve more as a support group for your fitness goals. And if you would like one-on-one virtual attention, there are plenty of trainers willing to oblige for an hourly charge.

4. Log Workouts

workout log

Keeping a log of your completed workouts is also a motivational tool. It allows you to see progress over time and also reminds you where you’ve fallen short. For example, I may have scheduled three 30-minute workouts per week for the month but logged only one workout per week. If I haven’t completed my monthly goal, I can see exactly why and make the necessary adjustments.

5. Journal Progress

woman journaling about her workout

Journaling progress is distinct from logging workouts. Here, you would write down all aspects of your progress, and not just exercises, repetitions, and workouts completed. Talk about changes in sleep patterns, mood, energy level, and perceivable physical changes like muscle tone and strength. Focusing on all the benefits you’ve achieved is a huge motivator to continue working out at home and keep the progress going.

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6. Use Psychological Tricks


Shape points to research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which found that you can resist temptation if you tell yourself you’ll give in to it later. So, if you really want to take a break in the middle of a workout, you can say you’ll take it in ten minutes. But often, you’ll just keep going, and you’ll never give in at all.

7. Leave Your Workout Equipment or Clothing in Plain View

home workout equipment

Leaving your workout equipment or clothing in plain view will remind you of your commitment throughout the day. Each time you glance over to the corner where your dumbbells, fitness bands, and mat look lonely, you’ll feel a nudge to give them a little love and get your booty off the sofa!

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8. Make Your Workout Fun

woman listening to headphones while working out alone

Do you like music or books? A workout with headphones blasting either of these amenities is fun! And when something is fun, you’ll look forward to it and do it more often. 

According to a 2018 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, music actually increased exercise time and intensity when participants underwent electrocardiogram (ECG) stress testing. 

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) reports music distracts from fatigue, allowing you to push yourself harder. ACE recommends starting with a song of about 120 to 126 beats per minute (bpm) and gradually increasing it as you reach the core of your workout. Music between 128 to 135 bpm is great for weight-lifting and general cardio, while 100 bpm is better for relaxation, says ACE.

But if you’re not a music fan or you just love to read, a great audiobook can do the trick! Audiobooks with a great storyline are my favorite during a workout. I only allow myself to listen to the audiobook while exercising, so the workout becomes a reward rather than a punishment.

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9. Use Workout Apps

woman using workout app

Workout apps are both free and paid and can be a great motivation to work out alone. They’re tailored to all sorts of activities, such as yoga, weight-training, meditation, and running. And some even include nutrition plans. Whether you want motivation, variety, or relief from workout boredom, these apps are great additions to your fitness routine! They’re also great if you’re a data nerd who wants tons of physiological information to track your progress.  

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10. Reward Yourself

woman holding shopping bags

No matter your workout routine, the best motivators are rewards for a job well done. Don’t wait to accomplish your larger goals to reward yourself. Instead, focus on your progress along the way. 

If you kept your commitment to a workout schedule for two weeks, reward yourself with new workout wear. If you increased your dumbbell weight, have a healthy lunch with a friend. Whatever motivates you, positive reinforcement is key to staying with your workout program.

I hope you’ve found these 10 ways to stay motivated to work out alone at home well, motivational. As for me, writing this post is just what I needed to get moving!

Speaking of rewards, if you need a few things to get started, don’t forget to shop this post by clicking on any of the photos under the heading “Shop the Post.”

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