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Turning a New Routine into a Habit

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New workout routines gotta start somewhere.

Whether you’re just starting out on exercising in earnest or already have an established routine, it can be jarring to pick up a new exercise routine. As with anything else, when you do something frequently enough, it becomes second nature, but it’s the period before it becomes second nature that can be a little awkward.

While the common assumption is that you have to motivate yourself to do your routine consistently, that’s actually not quite true. While motivation is certainly helpful when you’re first starting out, it becomes gradually less helpful when you’re trying to solidify your routine into a habit. If you have to consciously tell yourself “I’m going to work out now” every time you want to do it, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to say “nah, I don’t wanna today.” It’s only when working out becomes a reflex, something you just do without having to think about it, that you’ve officially formed a habit.

Credit: Unsplash

In a recent interview with Men’s Health, Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about the difference between motivation and habits when it comes to his workout routine. “What has kept me consistent is that I never have to think about this,” he said. “It’s a routine, so it is ingrained in me. There is no thinking, no ‘should I skip the gym today?’ I get out of bed at 5 AM and everything starts. The next three hours are automatic.”

“Motivation is important, but routine is what builds consistency. The first month of building a routine isn’t easy, so start small. Maybe the first thing you do when you get out of bed is some pushups and squats. Add something to your routine every week, and then eventually, you’ll have an hour or two hours every morning that are purely automatic and focused on improving yourself.”

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