Whether you want to lose weight, compete in a race, or nail your first unassisted pull-up, you have to exercise consistently. And if you want to work out consistently, it’s key that you make your workouts as convenient as possible: “The more convenient working out is, the more likely you are to do it,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit senior fitness and nutrition content manager.
It doesn’t get more convenient than a home workout, but convenience is only one workout motivator. The other is accountability — and that can be tricky when you’re working out at home. While you might be reluctant to bail on a workout buddy, when the only person holding you accountable to your home workouts is you, it becomes too easy to skip your session.
If you want to make your home workout routine stick, it’s important to hold yourself accountable. Here are six ways to do it.
1. Join an Online Fitness Community
One of the best ways to stay accountable when you work out at home is to join an online fitness community where you can share your goals and progress, Thieme says. Many online fitness programs host communities where members can check in with each other and share tips. You can even join a member challenge for added accountability.
2. Put It On the Calendar
Schedule your workout just like you would schedule a doctor’s appointment or a paid personal training session. Chances are you wouldn’t flake on those appointments — so give your training sessions equal importance. Make them nonnegotiable must-dos.
To boost your chances of success, figure out a time of day when you typically have the time, energy, and motivation to exercise, and then block that out as a daily recurrence on your calendar. Don’t try to force a 5 a.m. workout if you’re a night owl: “A lot of people try working out in the morning, but they just don’t feel good, so they don’t feel like their workouts are as productive,” says Holly Janiszewski, NASM-certified personal trainer and founder of Holly J Fitness.
3. Reward Yourself
Set a specific and measurable goal for yourself — lose 10 pounds, become strong enough to do 15 pull-ups in a row, or run a half marathon, for example — and then identify a highly desirable reward you’ll give yourself when (and only when) you achieve your goal, Thieme says.
Try to choose a reward that motivates you and supports your healthy lifestyle. Janiszewski likes to buy new workout gear or schedule a massage, for example. “When I have new shoes for my workout, or I have a new water bottle, that’s super motivating for me,” she says.
4. Recruit a Friend
Having a workout buddy can help you stay motivated, even when you’re exercising at home. Invite a friend over to do a home workout with you, or sign up for the same online fitness program — that way you can both do the same workouts and hold each other accountable for completing them, Thieme says.
If that’s not doable, identify a friend who can give you a nudge when needed. “It’s as simple as texting your mom, husband, or wife and just saying, ‘Hey, I need to work out today. Will you hold me accountable?'” Janiszewski says.
5. Stream an On Demand Class
6. Track Your Progress
Seeing the results of your hard work can help you stay on-track. (And if you haven’t been consistent with your weight-loss efforts, seeing a lack of progress may give you the extra push you need.)
Weighing yourself may seem like the most obvious way to track your progress, but it’s not always the most accurate. Most scales don’t take body composition into account, so if you’re building muscle, the number on the scale might not reflect the changes you see in the mirror. Instead, Janiszewski recommends taking measurements or progress photos so you can see how far you’ve really come.