Working Out When You Don't Like Routines

Rachel Off Duty: Rachel at the Gym

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A year is a long time. It’s a longer time when you try to do something–and stick to it–for all 52 weeks. It’s an even longer time when you try to make this “something” a routine, especially when it’s something that’s not necessarily “fun” or “easy.”

I recently finished one whole year of a new workout (BBG), but the actual workout was just as difficult as the routine I had made to stick to it. I consider myself a fairly active person. But as much as I’d like to think that I am pretty diligent when it comes to working out, I have a history of gravitating towards things that are easier, or more fun, or less mentally involved (like workout classes, where somebody else tells you what to do, and for how many reps). I’ve tried all kinds of classes from aerial silks to barre, I’ve relied on dancing (in my past life), and I’ve even at more than one point in my life hired a personal trainer (which actually had no effect whatsoever but cost me a cool $140 a month) to try and get into better shape.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with BBG, it’s a 12-week workout program designed by Australian trainer Kayla Itsines, based around HIIT (high intensity interval training), LISS (low intensity sustained state), and stretching. Each week requires you to do 3 to 4 28-minute circuits focusing on a different region of the body, 2-3 LISS cardio workouts like walking on a treadmill, stretches, and occasional bonus workouts or challenges. I know–it sounds like a lot. And it is. Which is why I’m honestly both surprised and extremely proud that I stuck with it.

Rachel Off Duty: Rachel Working Out at the Gym
Rachel Off Duty: Rachel Working Out

On the first day I started this workout routine, it was leg day, and I’ll be honest–I had to take a lot of breaks. I was winded! I am pretty sure I was dying after only 3 minutes in, and people in the gym around me were probably wondering why I kept going back and forth between sitting on the bench to putting my hands on my head, face flushed, out of breath, visibly struggling. It was rough. But as the weeks went on, I gradually, almost imperceptibly started noticing a difference. I took shorter breaks. I did more reps without stopping. I occasionally took a stab at heavier weights. And above all of that, I began feeling pretty confident, which, as you might know, is a constant challenge for me and for many of us. But i’ll be the first to admit that workouts, like any routines, are challenging to start and maintain, especially when they aren’t necessarily “fun” or “easy.” That said, they’re not impossible, even if you’ve never enjoyed working out a day in your life. Obviously, everyone is different, and what works for one person might not be the next person’s cup of tea, but, since I experienced such positive results– physically sure, but mostly mentally–from a workout I originally wrote off as being “just a fad,” and since I was able to come up with a routine based around it that works for me, I wanted to share the tips that helped me make it through all 365 days (and that will hopefully help me for the next 3,123,662 days and counting). Here are some of the things I did along the way to help me stick to a workout and develop a routine that works (especially when you hate routines like I do).

Rachel Off Duty: Rachel Performing a Plank

1. Know that Excuses aren’t Reasons

Every single time I think of trying something new, it seems like a new excuse comes right along with it. From thinking I didn’t have enough time in the day, to not wanting to wake up 45 minutes earlier every morning, there was–and always will be–something that tries to hold you back. The difference is that these things that nag at us and try to force us to stay right where we are aren’t reasons. They’re excuses. And unlike reasons (like having a broken ankle, for example), excuses can be overcome.

2. Pick a Time and Stick to It

Working out gets a little easier once you make it part of your day-to-day schedule. For me, I wake up around 7:30 am and immediately go to the gym. Then, afterwards, I’ll shower, make coffee, and get ready for the day ahead. Of course, life happens, and this doesn’t always work according to plan, but having a more or less predetermined timeframe to stick to helps take the effort out of figuring out when to work out, and transitions it from being an “event” into just another part of your morning (or lunchtime, or evening) routine.

Rachel Off Duty: Lifting Weights at the Gym

3. Get Others Involved

For a good 3 months, I actually got my boyfriend involved in doing this workout with me. Our work schedules are a little different, so sometimes we’d have to crawl to the gym together at 6:15 am or force ourselves to go at 8 in the evening to fit a workout in, but by just having him along for the ride, it honestly helped me work out on days I would have otherwise skipped altogether. And, getting someone else involved is a fun way to spend time together too!

4. Put it Out there and Hold Yourself Accountable

If you follow me on Instagram, you might’ve noticed that I talk about this workout occasionally on my Stories. The main reason for this is to hold myself accountable, not necessarily for anyone else by myself. By posting about it and sharing it with others, it almost acts as a psychological incentive to keep it going. Try it out and see if it has the same effect for you.

Rachel Off Duty: Rachel Performing a Headstand

5. Customize It 

BBG suggests that you do 2-3 low intensity cardio workouts a week. But, hanging out on an elliptical machine for 35-45 minutes isn’t always the most exciting thing to do, especially when someone else is using the TV in the gym. Instead of following this workout to the book each week, I’ll often switch it up and sub out one of the cardio days for a run outside along the beach or a hot yoga class. I love yoga, and I have a decent relationship with running, so being able to fit these two things in was important to me. Find what works for you and tailor your new routine accordingly. No two people are the same, and no two routines need to be either.

6. Take Time Off When You Need It

If I haven’t slept well or if I was out late the night before, there’s no way I’ll get out of bed until I absolutely have to start getting ready for work. And, when I’ve finished a 12-week sprint of BBG, I’ll take a week or two off in between as a way of treating to myself. Not every day is going to be perfect, and your body is going to find its own rhythm. I think taking a well-deserved break from any routine every once in a while is essential. However, the key–and admittedly the hardest part–to taking time off is knowing when to get back into the grind.


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Rachel Off Duty: Working Out When You Don't Like Routines
Rachel Off Duty: Working Out When You Don't Like Routines