The idea of being able to make our workouts and training habitual is highly enticing. After all, we have all experienced the struggle of having to convince ourselves to make it to the gym and we’ve each felt the difficulty getting motivated to right by our goals in the gym.
The thought is that with awesome workout habits, we can make the behavior (in this case, going and working out each day), as automatic as possible, saving ourselves the daily motivational battle.
As some fascinating research has shown, the way that we phrase and plan out our new habits makes a big difference in how likely we are to stick to it.
The researchers took a group of 100+ participants and tracked them over the course of a month. They were tasked with reporting on how strong their instigation and execution habits were.
- Instigation habit = getting ready to go to the gym, performing your pre-workout routine, driving to the gym.
- Execution habit = swimming for an hour every day, lifting 6 days a week.
The results were clear: those who had stronger instigation habits were more likely to hit the gym and finish their workouts.
The Power of Instigation Habits
Instigation habits are the “thing before the thing.” It’s driving to the gym. It’s warming up. It’s the first step before the hard stuff.
And as a result, in comparison they appear super easy. So easy, in fact, that it removes the resistance that usually comes with thinking about the full breadth of your gym workout.
After all, it doesn’t take a ton of willpower to get ready to workout. It doesn’t take a heap of effort to walk to the end of the block. Or to engage in your pre-workout routine.
The benefit is that you don’t really have to think about working out, instigation habits largely dampen the back-and-forth we engage in when trying to figure out whether or not we should be going to the gym.
Making solid habits in the gym (and in life) isn’t about making things harder for yourself. It’s about removing the mental friction that comes with doing the stuff we know we should do but on some level resist.
The research shows that whatever your goals in the gym, that you can make things a whole lot easier on yourself by focusing on creating solid instigation habits.
Here are some examples that you can use to incorporate into your own training:
- “After work each day I will drive to the gym and walk through the doors.”
- “Each morning when I wake up I will walk to the end of the block.”
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