How to Push Yourself at the Gym

Woman exercising with fitness trainer in gym
A woman is training at the gym. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

Your gym workout is only as good as the effort you put into it. You might feel you can work harder at the gym but aren't sure how to go about it. Small changes to your routine can help you push yourself, improving your workout and getting you closer to attaining your goals.

Step 1

Set a goal, whether it's to gain a specific amount of muscle, lose a specific amount of fat or run a marathon. Visualize attaining your goal and how it will make you feel when you achieve it. Return to this visualization before your work out and any time you feel like quitting or cheating.

Step 2

Set a plan in place before you go to the gym. Write down the exercises you are going to perform as well as the number of sets and repetitions. You can also give yourself a time limit for completing your workout. Bring your list with you and check off each set as you complete it. Do your best to stick with your plan. Only modify your planned workout if the exercises are advanced or if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.

Step 3

Eliminate distractions that will slow your pace or increase your rest between sets. Leave reading material at home and your cell phone in the car. Avoid prolonged conversations with gym goers by wearing headphones and maintaining a brisk workout pace.

Step 4

Listen to music while you exercise. Listening to music decreases your perceived exertion and helps you work out longer. It also helps block out external distractions. The faster the beat the faster the speed of your exercise, so choose music with a speed that is appropriate for your workout.

Step 5

Time your rest intervals between sets with a stopwatch or gym timer. This will keep you on task and maximize your work rate.

Step 6

Bring a workout partner to the gym with you. A workout partner can motivate you by prompting friendly competition, providing support during tough workouts and creating accountability. Make it clear your goal is to work harder and ensure that she is in accord with your goal as well.

Step 7

Be positive about exercising, regardless of whether you like to work out. Find reasons that you enjoy your workout and don't dwell on the fatigue and discomfort that comes with working hard. Savor your successes and be proud of yourself when you have completed a new skill, lifted more weight or had a harder workout.

Tip

A personal trainer can help you work harder at the gym by planning your workouts for you and keeping you on task. Try group fitness classes such as indoor cycling. You might benefit from the structure and be motivated by the large group environment.

Warning

Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.

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