How to Create a Lasting Exercise Routine that Gets You Fit for Life

Do you want to be fit for life? The answer is YES. But you’re struggling. You’re trying diet after diet, joining a gym and never going, feeling depressed and unconfident and you feel like it’s impossible to get fit. Today we’re going to share the most effective health hack that you can ever learn to stay fit for life and give you some tips to make it a reality for you.

Here’s the hack: you need to make exercise a habit.

You may think that seems obvious but if you view exercise as a chore - something you need to do, but often ignore because you’re too busy and don’t want to. Can you relate? Of course you can, and that’s why you’re not seeing progress.

Why are healthy habits so important?

Once exercise is a habit, you don’t have to think about it. It’s so ingrained in your routine that it’s like brushing your teeth, if you forget to do it, you feel off. When exercise becomes this healthy habit, you’ll start dropping weight, getting lean and feeling better than ever because consistent exercise is what garners the best results. Imagine how great you’d feel after a year of consistently exercising.

But how can you make exercise a habit?

How can you make exercise a habit?

In 2015 a study was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine that tells us a lot about the psychology of how you can make exercise a habit. The researchers conducted a 12 week study, where they surveyed more than 100 people who were new members of a gym. They were trying to understand what caused some of these people to pick up exercise as a habit, whilst others would go sporadically before falling off completely. Interestingly, the researchers found that exercise became a habit after a conscious commitment of six weeks, exercising four out of seven days optimally.

So if you want to make exercise a habit, you need to do it regularly for six weeks. But that doesn’t explain what goes behind making exercise a habit.

Make exercise a daily habit by being consistent

The researchers found that the most important thing you can do to create a new habit, was to set a consistent exercise schedule. Consistency. The magic word. It didn’t matter if the participants exercised at 6am or 10pm, or if they did yoga or HIIT training, what mattered is that they exercised consistently. When you do something consistently, you start doing it on auto-pilot.

What’s the science of habits?

When it comes to habit, there are two important circuits in your brain to understand: the movement circuit and the circuit for cognitive thinking. When you first start exercising or any new habit, your cognitive thinking part of your brain circuit is switched on. You are hyper-aware of each action and you are using more brain power and energy to complete the activity. The more consistently you do the habit, your brain switches to the movement circuit, in which you are not consciously focused on your body, less brain power is needed and you perform on auto-pilot.

How can you make exercise a habit that sticks?

So far we’ve covered repetition and consistency, but what else? That doesn’t really answer the specifics of how you can actually be consistent. We believe that one of the most effective ways to make exercise a habit that sticks is to be prepared.

If you’re starting a fitness journey from the beginning, you need to make sure you have all the necessary things to enable you to focus on what matters: the actual exercise! Here’s what we believe you need to start a lifelong habit of fitness:

Use a calendar

Not only are calendars great for adding in meetings, play dates, real dates and everything in between; they’re also helpful for scheduling gym time and meal preparation. At the beginning of each week, spend some time scheduling out gym workouts, outdoor walks, fitness classes, grocery shopping and meal prep.

Set reminders of these timings so you don’t forget, and ensure that you tick off each one as the week progresses.

Track your progress

It’s important to have a way of effectively tracking your progress, otherwise you may feel like you’re not progressing and end up giving up. Don’t! The most accurate ways to track your progress include:

Take your measurements every few weeks and write them down to monitor your progress.

Pack a gym bag

Fail to prepare then prepare to fail! Fill your gym bag with your daily essentials

Bring your gym bag with you every day you’re going to work out, to avoid the excuse of ‘I can’t work out, I have a dinner tonight and won’t have time to shower.’ 

The main takeaway

You want to make exercise a part of your life. Here’s the summary of what we’ve discussed:

  • Make exercise a habit by consistently doing it for at least a month
  • When you repeatedly do something, it becomes ingrained in your brain
  • Being prepared is essential for habit forming
  • Track your progress to keep you accountable
  • Schedule in your workouts to ensure you’re consistent
  • Pack a gym bag with all the essentials to prevent excuse

 The main takeaway is that the more you do something, the easier it gets. It’s like riding a bike, keep practicing until it’s an easy ride. When you’re prepared to change your lifestyle to a healthier one and you make exercise a habit, you don’t have to force yourself to go to the gym begrudgingly, it just becomes an embedded component of your routine and if you don’t do it, you feel like something’s off. That’s the best way to make long term healthy changes in your life.

To Get You Started, Below is a 1 Week Bodyweight Workout Plan:

*Go at your own pace! If you feel you are not working hard enough then take less breaks or more breaks if it is too challenging

*Before every workout perform a warmup. This is important because your body needs to be prepared for the workout and not shock your body. You could go for a 5 minute walk before your workout. 

*Pick whatever amount of reps works for you! As a guideline the last 3 reps should be challenging.

Day 1: Legs 

Exercise 1: Squats with kick 

  • Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Squat back as though you are about to sit in a chair
  • As you stand back up kick your leg out to the side 
  • Squat back down and alternate kicking legs.
  • Repeat 8-15 times on each leg
  • Too easy? Make it a jump squat. Rather than standing up jump up then squat down and repeat. 

Exercise 2: Lunges 

  • Start standing with hands on hips. 
  • Place one leg forward then lower hips until both knees are about 90 degrees. 
  • Bring forward leg back to standing position
  • Repeat on each leg 8-15 times
  • Too easy? Make it a jump lunge. Rather than bringing your forward leg back to the standing position jump up. 

Exercise 3: Side lunge 

  • Start standing with your toes facing forward and with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Shift your body weight to one leg, bending your knee to about 90 degrees
  • Stand back up in your starting position and alternate legs. 
  • Repeat on each leg 8-15 times
  • Too easy? Place a small towel under your foot. Slide your towel out to your side with your other leg stable in place and bending at the knee. Bring the towel back in and back to standing position. 

Exercise 4: Hip thrusts

  • Start lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees at 90 degrees.
  • Bring your hips up to the ceiling and squeeze your glutes at the top. 
  • Bring your hips back down and repeat. 
  • Repeat 10-30 times
  • Too easy? Repeat the above but with one leg. Place your foot on the working leg’s knee and bring hips up to the ceiling. 

Exercise 5: Wall sit

  • Stand against a wall with your feet about one step away from the wall. 
  • Squat down into a squat position with your back still against the wall. 
  • It should look like you are sitting in a chair. Your back is straight with your knees at 90 degrees
  • Hold the exercise for 30-90 seconds
  • Too easy? Go for longer or try one leg!

Repeat all leg exercises in order for 3 to 5 rounds! 

Day 2: Core 

Exercise 1: Mountain Climbers

  • Start in a plank position on your hands. 
  • Bring your knee towards the opposite hand 
  • Repeat on the other side. 
  • Try to go back and forth at a pace that is comfortable for you. 
  • Perform the exercise for 30 seconds to one minute
  • Too easy? Add a push-up! After 4 seconds of the exercise in the plank position go into a push-up then back into your mountain climbers. Repeat every 4 seconds!

Exercise 2: Hip dips

  • Start in a plank position with your elbows bent against the ground. 
  • Dip your hip to one side close to the grow or tap the ground with the side of your hip. 
  • Repeat on the opposite side. 
  • Perform 8-15 times on each side, 16 to 30 reps in total.
  • Too easy? Go slower. Focus on keeping your core tight and lowering your hip slowly.

Exercise 3: Leg raises 

  • Start by lying flat on your back.
  • Bring both legs up to above your hips
  • Bring legs back down but do not touch the floor again!
  • Perform 8-20 times
  • Too easy? Hold your feet about an inch from the ground for 5 seconds before bringing them back up 

Exercise 4: Bicycle Crunches 

  • Start lying flat on your back 
  • Bring your knees up until they are above your hips
  • Have your hands behind your ears
  • Bring your knee to the opposite elbow. 
  • Alternate sides
  • Perform exercise for 30 seconds to one minute.
  • Too easy? Slow it down. When your knee is not touching your elbow have the other leg straight just above the ground. 

Exercise 5: Plank

  • Start in a plank position either on your hands or elbows. 
  • Hold for as long as you can! Aim for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • Are you bored? Too easy? Make it a spiderman plank. Lift one leg up just above the ground and move your thigh to the side and bring your knee up to your elbow. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Repeat all core exercises in order for 3 to 5 rounds! 

Day 3: Upper body

Exercise 1: Tricep dips

  • Slide off a bench or chair when your knees bent and your hands still on the chair holding you up. 
  • Straighten your arms, but do not lock your elbows. 
  • Bend at your elbows until they reach 90 degrees. 
  • Straighten your arms back to starting position.
  • Repeat 8-15 times. 
  • Too easy? Straighten your legs!

Exercise 2: Push ups 

  • Start in a plank position but in a wide arm stance. Your elbows should be out to the side in line with your shoulder.  
  • Bring your chest down to the ground then bring back up to the starting position. 
  • Repeat 8-20 times
  • Too hard? Rather than have your legs straight out have your knees on the ground. Too easy? Slow it down, lower your chest for 3 seconds then bring back up. 

Exercise 3: Shoulder circles 

  • Standing or sitting raise both arms out to the side. 
  • Move your arms in small circles either forwards or backwards
  • Perform for 20 to 60 seconds
  • Too easy? Hold a can in each hand!

Exercise 4: Supermans 

  • Start by lying flat on your stomach
  • When ready, raise your chest up while keeping the rest of your body on the ground. 
  • Hold for 3 seconds then bring your chest back down and repeat. 
  • Repeat 8-12 times
  • Too easy? Raise your feet up with your chest! Or hold at the top for longer. 

Exercise 5: Shoulder taps

  • Start in a plank position on your hands. 
  • Bring your hand up to your opposite shoulder
  • Repeat on the other side. 
  • Repeat 8-15 times on each side for a total of 16-30 reps.
  • Too easy? Do a push-up after four shoulder taps! Repeat after every fourth tap. 

Repeat all upper body exercises in order for 3 to 5 rounds! 

Day 4: Rest day!

  • You can do absolutely nothing or make it an active rest day by going for a walk or stretch it out. 
  • If you feel like you can do more, move onto day 5!

Day 5: Cardio 

Exercise 1: Jumping jacks

  • Start standing in a comfortable position. 
  • Jump both your legs out to the side while also bringing both arms up above your head
  • Too hard? Step out to the side and punch your arm out to the same side. Repeat on the other side. This will make the exercise low impact 

Exercise 2: Shuffle toe touch 

  • Shuffle to the right side two to three times. 
  • Have your left hand touch your right foot at the end of the shuffle
  • Repeat on the left side. 
  • Too hard? Shuffle to the side but instead on touching your foot punch your arm out to the side.

Exercise 3: High knees

  • Start standing in a comfortable position. 
  • Jump your knee up to your hips
  • Repeat with other leg and go as fast as you can 
  • Too hard? Bring knees up without the jump 

Exercise 4: Butt kickers 

  • Start in a comfortable standing position
  • Go up onto your toes 
  • Bring your heel up to your butt
  • Repeat with opposite side, should be similar to a running motion 
  • Too hard? Rather than a running motion, just step your heel up to your bum. 

Exercise 5: Inch worm

  • Start in a comfortable standing position
  • Bring your hands to the floor
  • Crawl your hands out until you are in the plank position.
  • Crawl your hands back and stand back up
  • Repeat 8-15 times
  • Too easy? Jump up when you stand back in your starting position

Perform each cardio exercise for 30-60 seconds. Complete exercises one through five for a total of 3-5 rounds.

Day 6: Full body 

Exercise 1: T press up 

  • Start in a plank on your hands
  • Lower your chest to the floor
  • As you come back up rotate to the side and extend your arm to the sky. 
  • Return to the plank position and repeat on the other side. 
  • Perform 8-15 times on each side.
  • Too easy? Slow it down. Going slower will make this exercise harder! 

Exercise 2: narrow to wide squat 

  • Start in a comfortable standing position. 
  • Squat down
  • As you come back up move your stance wider and squat back down again
  • Move back to your normal squat position. 
  • Alternate between your normal and wide squat positions. 
  • Repeat 8-20 times
  • Too easy? Add a jump on your way up from your squat!

Exercise 3: tricep push ups

  • Start in the plank position on your hands.
  • Have your hands directly under your should to engage the triceps
  • Bring your chest to the floor then come back up to your starting position 
  • Repeat 8-15 times
  • Too hard? Go on your knees!

Exercise 4: standing crunch

  • Start standing in a comfortable position
  • Bring your elbow to your opposite knee by bringing your knee up
  • Repeat on other side
  • Perform 8-15 reps on each side.

Exercise 5: toe taps

  • Start in a crab position with your stomach facing the ceiling on your hands and feet
  • Lift your hand up to touch the opposite foot
  • Repeat on the other side
  • Perform exercise 8-15 times on each side
  • Too hard? Have your bum on the ground rather than in the air!

Repeat all exercises in order for a total of 3-5 rounds! 

Day 7: Rest day!!

  • You made it through the week, congrats!