Jump-start Your Training Motivation

Marines take part in Zumba class.
Participants of Marine Corps Recruit Depot's Fitness Center's Zumba Fitness class follow the instruction of Claudia Hillard, a Zumba instructor, June 10, 2011. (Lance Cpl. Katalynn M. Rodgers/Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego)

"I don't have the time."

"I'm just not a morning person."

"I'll start tomorrow."

"I have other things to do."


Everyone is prone to procrastination from time to time. And let's face it, when our schedules become busy, working out is often the first sacrifice we make to maintain our sanity.

However, there are two problems with this solution.

One, when your days get overwhelming, you need a release, and exercise is arguably the absolute best stress reliever, both physically and mentally, you'll ever find.

And two, straying from your diet and exercise program too far can mean sudden death to all of your previous gains, making it even harder for you to reach your goals.

To stay committed to your fitness goals, whether you're getting ready to begin a new program, or you have a hard time making your workouts a priority in your busy schedule, here are eight tips for staying on track:

1. Go slowly at first

Exercise must become a habit, and habits form over time. If you start off too strong, you may burn yourself out and shortchange that initial burst of motivation you had. This is why most diets fail before they barely get started.

2. Have a plan

Studies show that guys who go to the gym with a structured workout plan are 70% more likely to reach their goals than those who went unprepared. This is exactly why I built the Optimum Anabolics workout guide -- to give you a day-by-day, step-by-step action plan for following the principles outlined in my program.

3. Set realistic goals

Want to gain 20 pounds of muscle in four weeks? Forget it. Setting your sights too high only will frustrate you when you don't meet the impossible expectations you've set for yourself.

I suggest setting your goals, whether for muscle gain or fat loss, in five-pound increments. These small victories lead to huge results.

4. Pick a time of day that's most convenient for you

"Feel" yourself out for when you feel the most physically active and your energy levels are high. Take advantage of these times by using them as windows of opportunity for working out.

5. Schedule your exercise times

Add your workout times to a daily calendar just as if you were meeting with an important client, had a "regular" television show you wanted to watch or you had a standing lunch or dinner date. If someone asks you to do something during this scheduled time, tell them you "already have plans."

6. Find a motivated workout partner

It's usually harder to let someone else down by not showing up for a workout than it is to let ourselves down. Either find a buddy with similar goals or choose someone at the gym who works out at the same time you do. Tell him you have this awesome new program you'd like them to experience with you.

7. Reward yourself

When you've made progress on your goals, you need a way to say "good job." Buy yourself a new CD to listen to during your workout or get some new workout clothes that will show off your awesome new body.

8. Do something

Unless you work a regular schedule and have absolutely no social life whatsoever, there will be situations that will arise to take you away from your program -- vacation, illness, that Star Trek convention you had planned, whatever.

However, studies have shown that just doing one full-body workout a week or a few minutes of push-ups and a few rounds of one-legged, body-weight squats is enough to maintain your body's anabolic momentum.

So don't just throw your whole program out the window because of a little bump in the road to a fabulous physique. Do whatever you can until you can get back on track.

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Jeff Anderson is a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Army, a master fitness trainer and master instructor of close quarters combat self-defense. A full-time fitness and self-defense author, Anderson has trained thousands of men and women in the practical application of advanced military fitness methods as well as close combat tactics for "real-life" self-defense.

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