How to Start Working Out with Consistency

Set goals, develop habits, and be the person who you want to become

Every year, millions of people come with a new year resolution with the hope of sparking a positive change. Out of the many visions and goals, a common recurring theme is to improve health by starting to work out regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.

However, most people find it challenging to develop the habit of working out regularly. There is a long list of reasons why it can’t be done:

  • I don’t have the time to workout.
  • I have no idea what to do.
  • I don’t feel like doing it some days.

All these reasons are indeed valid — and sometimes good — to explain why 90 percent of people failed to stick to the habit. But if you’re serious about developing the habit of working out regularly, this article is for you.

Know your why and set realistic goals

The first step to start working out is not to hop on to your running shoes and start running for an hour. It’s also not about watching countless fitness and motivational YouTube videos. Instead, spend the time to first find out what you want to accomplish by working out.

  • To build muscle and lose X amount of body fat.
  • To improve movement, mobility, and endurance.
  • To boost your cognitive performance and emotional state.

You will likely have a very different workout routine if your goal is to improve shoulder movement than people who aim to increase muscle mass. By learning what you’re trying to accomplish, you can then set a realistic goal that is based on a possible outcome at a comfortable time frame,

Often, people failed to work out consistently because they don’t know what they want to accomplish and then they set an unrealistic fitness goal. Spending the time to decide what and how much you want to accomplish also help answer the question of “I don’t know what to do.”

Reset your priorities

I bet you know someone who talks about their fitness and workout plans endlessly, and they don’t even shy away from giving you some fitness advice. But as months went by, you see them do nothing with the plan. And when you ask them about it, they will simply brush off with the excuses that they don’t have the time.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons why people can’t stick to their workout routine is that they don’t have time — according to them. The truth is, it’s not about not having enough time, it’s about prioritizing. If working out is important enough to you, you will find time for it.

Think about what you’re doing that doesn’t contribute to your goals, and be prepared to sacrifice a few of them:

  • Watching Netflix shows after dinner.
  • Playing video games on Sunday morning.
  • Partying on Friday night after work.

It may sound harsh to kill all of your fun time and replace them with working out. Indeed, it’s likely not to last if you feel that way. Instead, find ways to make working out fun for you. You could take up a sport, exercise together with friends, or even participate in some types of competition to push you forward.

If you truly can’t squeeze in time due to work and family, adjust your workout routine to maximize the output you can get from your time. For example, I used to train using StrongLifts routine that took only an hour a day for three days a week; I also tried Freeletics program that took me roughly 40 minutes a day for four to five days a week.

Build the habits and develop the identity

People who work out regularly don’t think about working out all the time. Instead, exercising has become a part of their lives — their habits. Just like writers who write and athletes who train. Yes, most of us are not an athlete, but taking good care of our own body should be everyone’s responsibility. Not to break the world records or to win a gold medal, but to live a fulfilling, pain-free life.

To develop the habit of working out regularly, start small so that you don’t feel too much discomfort from having to work out. I would even suggest starting so small that you will have no reason to ignore it:

  • Doing two push-ups every morning.
  • Taking a five-minute walk after dinner.
  • Rope jumping — you can do this without a rope — for three minutes.

Then, reward yourself when you complete the workout routine. It could be having a nice warm bath or marking a little red cross on your calendar. What is important here is to associate a positive reward with working out so you’re more likely to do it again.

It’s also important to change the language you use. Instead of forcing yourself to exercise, tell yourself that you’re someone who doesn’t miss a workout session. And soon enough, every workout session you’ve done become a new layer that strengthens your identity.

Final thought: consistency is the key

It’s easy to start working out. You can put on your running shoes now and hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, or you can even stop reading now and do five push-ups.

However, the key to achieving your health and fitness goal is to stick to your workout routine consistently. There is when you need to get clear with your goals and learn what and how to do in order to maximize growth and reduce injury.

Lastly, you need to work on your psychology to reframe your identity and develop the habit.


  1. If you're interested in learning more about the workout programs I mentioned above, here is where to learn more about Stronglifts and Freeletics.

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