The Plan

Look, you?re making it way too hard to get started working out.

You only need 3 things:

  1. A simple plan with daily steps to take so there?s no guessing, you know exactly what to do
  2. Accountability to keep you engaged, making progress every day and gaining confidence
  3. You need a trigger, something you?re already doing to attach this new training habit to. This is important.

Let's go over each one.

A Simple Plan

A simple plan is just focusing on the necessary few things to do, what I call the Big Rocks. Just do what will give you the most return for your effort.

Forget about the rest and just do one thing at a time. So one new action every day.

That's it.

Accountability

Accountability is key to keep you going until this new habit takes hold.

So a training partner is good if you can find someone who is a go-getter. The partner only works if they?re going to be all gung-ho about making sure it happens.

Visual cues are very helpful.

If you?re planning on training first thing in the am, put your workout clothes and shoes all together in the bathroom so you?ll see them when you walk in to pee.

Gonna hit the gym on the way home from work? Put your stuff on the passenger seat so you see it as soon as you get into your car..

There are apps that will pay you if you workout or you pay them when you miss. You put in your plan, say workout 3 times a week and they use your Fitbit or Garmin monitor to track your activity level. Then you either get paid for making your goals or you have to pay for missing!

That could work. Money is always a motivator.

The Trigger

OK #3 is the most important one and also the one that is almost always overlooked.

The trigger. How are you going to initiate your action of working out?

All routines have a reliable trigger. Like your morning routine.

The trigger is you getting up out of bed and then your routine ensues.

  • To the bathroom
  • put your slippers on
  • start the coffee
  • turn on the news
  • whatever it is.

But I guarantee you it?s the same thing every day.

So the thing to remember is that you will be far more successful if you attach your new workout routine to an existing trigger. Something you're already doing very reliably.

I?m working with a guy in Vermont who uses his morning dog walk to trigger an aerobic workout. In the winter he goes snowshoeing. Other times it?s a hike in the woods. All started by taking his dog for a walk which he does every morning.

That's a good trigger.

Hitting the gym on the way home from work is probably better than coming home, having dinner and then trying to go after dinner.

In the first case, the trigger is your drive home and you can reinforce your habit with the visual cue of your workout gear on the front seat of the car.

In the second case, trying to go from home an hour after dinner - you?re trying to create a new trigger. Plus you?ll be lethargic from the food.

So that?s hard to do.

Finding a trigger to piggyback on takes some sleuthing, you have analyze what you?re already doing and see what is possible. Pick something you do every day at about the same time.

Summary

OK, 3 things to build a new habit:

  1. Keep it simple; do the big rock activities

  2. Build an accountability system

  3. Use an existing trigger to make it foolproof to start your routine

About the Author Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 63 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature Spartan Method training system.

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