Solve Your Fitness Slump

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

For those of us who don’t pump iron to make our living, going to the gym might feel like a chore. But stick with it and your sentiment might change, according to a new Rutgers University study.

Researchers asked students to keep a difficult goal (like going to the gym five times a week or quitting the tube) for 40 days, and found that those who were successful at maintaining their goals actually ended up liking the activity more—even if they didn’t enjoy it initially. Why?

“If a person performs a behavior regularly and for long enough, the behavior becomes part of the person’s self-identity or self-concept,” speculates study author Alison Philips, Ph.D. “For example, if I made a goal to start running and succeeded, I’d begin to see myself as a runner.”

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Easier said then done, right? But Phillips suggests a few tips that might help you stick to your plan.

Keep sight of your goal. Philips believes that the study participants didn’t start to enjoy their goals until they started to see some reward in it (i.e. until you start seeing your muscles grow, you might feel tempted to quit the gym). So to keep you going, remind yourself why you’re following through. Don’t quit until you start to see results. Once you do, that’ll keep you going.

Set a playlist. Researchers found that individuals prefer a playlist with variety (read: songs you haven’t heard in a while) rather than a list of only their favorite songs. Plus, a California State University study found that men had increased performance during exercise and a more positive mindset when they listed to music. Not a great DJ? Listen to our picks for the musclemorphosis.com.

Have a contingency plan. What will you do if you work late? If you feel too tired to work out? Know your backup tactic in advance so that you can’t use these as excuses. “You're about 40 percent more likely to work out if you have strategies to help you overcome these obstacles,” says Rod Dishman, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at the University of Georgia. Try this musclemorphosis.com—without any equipment at all.

Additional research by Adam Campbell

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