Are your workouts feeling less than awesome lately?
Don’t worry—we all need a little extra motivation at times to push us to work out harder and more often.
You have to own your workouts. Crush them. Work harder than you ever thought possible and give them your all. Only then, will you progress as an athlete—and as a person.
And this list can get you there—so look through it, pick the tips that resonate with you, then go kick ass at your workouts (and life)!
How to kick ass at working out (in no particular order):
1. Push past your limits regularly. If you aren’t collapsing in defeat on a regular basis, you aren’t pushing hard enough. Train hard.
2. Have a mantra. Mantras help trick your brain into believing something is true, and can get you through even the toughest of workouts.
3. Gear up. While bodyweight training is awesome, a few pieces of equipment such as a jump rope and a kettlebell can push your training to the next level.
5. Show up no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick, hungover, tired, or just overly stressed, the key to kicking ass at your workouts is to always show up.
6. Take pictures along your fitness journey. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing the visual progress you’ve made from your workouts. Do it often, and hide them somewhere no one else can see them if that makes it less embarrassing.
7. Kettlebell swings are your friend. Do them often. You’ll get all the cardiovascular, strength and coordination benefits that go with them.
8. Foam roll on a regular basis. Foam rolling can increase mobility, make you more flexible and result in less injuries. There’s absolutely nothing bad about foam rolling. So go do it.
9. Stretch as much as you can. Yes, it’s a little boring. But stretching can have some major benefits, including keeping you flexible and injury free so you can kick ass during your workouts.
10. Try and crush your workouts every single time. Go all out. Don’t hold back. You can do it.
11. Learn to recognize the signs of overtraining. Yes, there is such a thing as working out too much, and it can lead to injuries, illness, and lack of motivation. Learn to recognize the signs your body is trying to tell you and always take care of yourself.
12. Practice new skills. You’re never going to fulfill your potential as an athlete unless you push yourself to constantly learn new skills and exercises. So pick something you want to learn, whether it’s a handstand, a front roll, even a muscle up—and work on developing the skills you need to do the exercise.
13. Practice handstands often. Handstands are not only great for balance, core and upper body strength, they’re fun, and will no doubt make you feel like a kid again. Do them at least once a day against a wall, working up to doing them wall-free.
14. Don’t be intimidated by pistols. Ahh, yes, the one legged squat—the exercise that most people assume they can’t do, so they never even give it a try. Work up to full pistols by first holding onto a wall or a chair, and lowering yourself as far down as you can go on one leg. Keep working at it, and you’ll soon get the balance and strength you need to do them without holding onto anything.
15. Always record your reps and times. Want to know how much progress your hard work is getting you? There’s no better way to do so than keeping track of your reps and times of your workouts. So whether you leave them in the comment section, have a paper workout journal or just a document on your computer, don’t skip this step—or risk losing your motivation.
16. Find a community and motivate other athletes. Everyone needs a little motivation from others. Find a community of people with similar goals, whether it’s an online forum or a physical meetup, and motivate the hell out of everyone there. You’re bound to get plenty of motivation in return.
17. Get a jump rope. Seriously. Jump ropes are one of the cheapest, most portable forms of workout equipment. You really have no excuse not to have one.
18. Take your workouts outside. Working out doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in a stuffy gym or tiny hotel room all the time. Taking your workouts outside can leave you feeling more energized, inspired, and even happier. So find a nearby park and get after it.
19. Fuel your body. You can’t expect to have a kick-ass workout if you’re not feeding your body properly. So eat your greens, your protein, your fruits and healthy fats, and your body will reward you with an awesome workout.
20. Do pull ups often. There’s no better exercise than the pull up to build upper body strength and overall confidence. If you can’t do full ones yet, don’t worry—there are plenty of scalable options to try first.
21. Aim to get your chest to the floor with push ups. No, elbows at 90 degrees doesn’t count. Get all the way down. Go on your knees if you have to.
22. Push ups rock. Do them a lot. Try all different kinds—regular, reptile, dive bomber, elevated… so many fun ones. And you can do them anywhere (so no excuses, right?)!
23. Warm up before you train hard. It doesn’t need to be a long warm up—just 2-5 minutes will do. Get your heart rate up and feel yourself getting a little warm, and you’re good to go.
24. Don’t avoid workouts you don’t like. Stop skipping workouts just because you don’t like the workout of the day. You’ll never improve this way.
25. Work out no matter what. Sick? Tired? Hungover? Getting sweaty can actually help reduce the symptoms. NO EXCUSES.
26. Train your weaknesses. If you’re bad at pull ups/handstands/burpees/pistols/push ups/etc., you’ve found the exercise you need to focus on. Train your weakness 3-4 times a week, and watch yourself magically improve.
27. Do squats often. Air squats, sandbag squats, kettlebell squats, heavy squats. Do them all. There’s no better exercise for building major lower body strength.
28. Take time to recover. Recovery time is as important as your workout time. Give your body proper rest and nutrition, and you’ll stay injury-free.
30. Jump a lot. Want to train like an athlete? Jump. Aside from how fun it is, jumping will help you build strength and coordination. And as a bonus, jumping also burns a ton of calories.
31. Eat lots of protein. Protein will keep you lean, feeds your muscles, and keeps you full. Aim for around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight a day.
32. Try to beat your own reps and times. The only way to keep from hitting a plateau is to keep pushing past your own limits. So work hard, every time.
33. Take at least one rest day a week. This is crucial for recovery (and most people need more). You can still do something active that day, just no crazy hard training.
34. Mix in tabata workouts with your regular workouts. It only takes four minutes of tabata training to rev up your metabolism, burn calories and increase endurance levels. Try doing a tabata workout in the morning if you work out at night (or vise versa), or on an off day.
35. Embrace box jumps. Look like a badass while building strength, balance, and melting fat.
36. Look elsewhere for motivation when you need it. We all have those times when we’re feeling less than motivated to work out. Read, watch, or listen to something inspiring and you’ll be feeling pumped up before you know it.
37. Train like an athlete. Great athletes aren’t focused solely on their appearance—and you shouldn’t be either. Work hard like an athlete would, and the looks will follow.
38. Don’t think that just because you can’t do something now, that you’ll never be able to do it. I couldn’t even do a single push up a few years ago. Work hard, and you’ll succeed.
39. Start feeling fortunate that you can work out. Not everyone can just get up and go for a run. So stop complaining about having to exercise, and start feeling grateful that you can work out.
40. Train your entire body. Unless you’re a bodybuilder, there’s no need to focus on an ‘arm day’ or ‘leg day.’ Work your body like it’s supposed to be used—as a whole.
41. Do burpees. Lots and lots of burpees. Burpees not only burn a shitload of calories, they’re great for conditioning and will build strength. Best of all, they’re 100% portable!
42. Eat breakfast every day. I don’t care if you’re not hungry in the morning (but if you aren’t, I don’t understand you), you need to eat to set yourself up for the day. I tend to aim for 30 grams of protein within the first half an hour of waking up (thanks to Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Body recommendation), which you can easily get from meals like protein pancakes and even a smoothie.
43. Get sweaty. Working out is no beauty contest. You should never look good at the end of a workout—instead, you should be dripping sweat, red faced, and panting. If not, you’re not working hard enough.
44. Embrace (and excel at) bodyweight exercises. They’re portable. They’re awesome. They give you absolutely no excuse not to work out.
45. Work out even when you travel. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a tiny hotel room or in your parents’ basement, you can work out even when you’re traveling. Pick up the 12 Minute Athlete app if you need some ideas for travel-friendly workouts.
46. Be consistent. Consistency helps you build momentum, which in turn makes you more motivated to work out. Put your workout in your schedule, set up a reminder on your phone—do whatever it takes to keep a consistent workout schedule.
47. Do shorter (but more intense) workouts. Shorter, HIIT workouts not only are more efficient than longer workouts, burn more calories in less time, they also give you way less of an excuse not to work out. Because everyone has an extra 12 minutes in their day.
48. Remember the why. Why do you work out? To look better? Feel better? Get stronger? Stay healthy into old age? When you’re not feeling excited to work out, remember this.
49. Stop making excuses. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.
50. Never give up. No matter what. Push past the pain, the doubt, the feeling that it’s impossible. Believe in yourself, and you’ll succeed in the end.
Now go kick some ass and work out like nothing can hold you back. You’re going to rock at this.