Woman sticking to her exercise plan

14 Tips to Stick to an Exercise Plan (and Why You Need To Make One)

11 min read


11 Mar 2024

Grab your cheat sheet

  1. The importance of making a workout plan
  2. Take baby steps
  3. Set realistic goals
  4. Do exercises you enjoy
  5. Create a schedule and stick to it
  6. Have a backup plan
  7. Create exercise triggers
  8. Track your progress
  9. Treat yourself
  10. Be patient and be positive
  11. Have an accountability partner
  12. Get inspired
  13. Focus on you
  14. Visualise your success
  15. Supplement your workout routine

The first step on your road to epic fitness results is to well…get started. This statement may sound glaringly obvious, but it’s true.

Whether you’re looking to bulk up and build muscle, shed some body fat, or get that all-important PB—you need to put in the effort—and get moving.

But that’s not always enough.

Doing something is infinitely better than doing nothing at all, but going to the gym and just winging it will only get you so far.

You need a plan.

Having an action plan that you can follow (and stick to) will increase your output, make your workouts far more efficient, and lead to better results all around.

So, here are our top tips for creating a plan, keeping to it, and how it will benefit you in the long run.

Ready? Let’s go.

The importance of making a workout plan

Every now and then, your exercise motivation is probably going to take a hit. Or you’ll hit a physical wall where you just don’t seem to be able to make any progress— and your results come to a crashing halt.

These are the moments that you’ll be glad to have a plan in place.

Having a structured fitness routine that you can fall back on and refer to when needed can help you keep going during those tough periods.

When obstacles crop up, or you feel a bit lost or underwhelmed by working out, or you start to question why you even bother, the plan is there to set you straight so that you can maintain consistency.

A plan means accountability. It means progression. It means no excuses.

These 14 tips will help you create solid nutrition and workout plans that suit your lifestyle, goals, and abilities. 

Oh, we’ll also tell you how to stick to those plans, even when you feel like giving up.

1. Take baby steps

If you’ve never had a proper fitness routine before, or you’re completely new to working out, make sure to start off at a steady pace.

Don’t push yourself too hard early on and fall at the first hurdle.

You don’t need to dive straight into a five-day split with heavy weights. Start with something that’s not too challenging while you learn the ropes, then you can build momentum once you get going.

Easing yourself into it like this will help your body and your mind get used to your new routine. Then, when you eventually come to expect and enjoy doing exercises, you can up the frequency or intensity.

You can also start small and slowly build up in a micro sense as well. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to do a full workout. Just tell yourself you’re going to do one minute on the treadmill, or just do one push-up.

Once you begin, you’ll likely decide to carry on and get in the zone to complete a full session.

2. Set realistic goals

As well as not diving straight in at the deep end, it’s important to be realistic about what you want to achieve and in what timeframe.

If you set yourself a target that is almost impossible to achieve, you’ll soon become disheartened and want to quit.

Setting SMART goals is a good way to make sure you have attainable ambitions. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Making sure your goal includes all of these aspects makes it much clearer and easier to stick to.

For example, simply saying you’re “going to build muscle” or “I want to lose weight” are too broad as statements. SMARTen up those fitness goals by adding in the elements above.

SMART goals…

  • Make it specific: “I want to gain 20lbs of lean muscle mass.”
  • Make it measurable: “I’ll take weekly chest, stomach, biceps, and thigh measurements, as well as track my weights, reps, and sets for each exercise.”
  • Make it achievable: “I’ll do this by completing one-hour gym sessions four times a week and sticking to a muscle-building diet plan.”
  • Make it relevant: “I’m choosing this as my goal because it suits my daily routine and current fitness level, and it works for the amount of time I have free each week to focus on working out.”
  • Make it time-bound: “I aim to meet my goal within the next six months. I’ll then assess my results and set a new goal based on my progress so far.”

This is much more in-depth and explicit, which will give you a really solid foundation to work from.

3. Do exercises you enjoy

Nothing makes you lose exercise motivation or enthusiasm quicker than having to do something you hate. But there are countless ways to work out, so devise your exercise routine around the types of physical activity that you enjoy doing.

Strength training can be more than just lifting weights alone in the gym. It can be using your body weight or kettlebells. It can be with friends or a personal trainer. It can be CrossFit sessions with a group.

Cardio can be more than just running on a treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike. You could run or cycle outside. You could go swimming or do water aerobics. It can even be rock climbing, rowing, or dancing.

How about taking a group fitness class? Or trying HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts?

Maybe you like martial arts. Or Pilates. Or boxing. Or playing sports. The possibilities are almost endless.

Your exercise program can be whatever you want to make it.

4. Create a schedule and stick to it

Group exercise class

Establish a consistent workout schedule so that it becomes part and parcel of your everyday life. Once you develop an exercise habit, you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel.

The best way to do this is to make your plan fit into your current lifestyle. Basically, you should work out when it’s most convenient and when you’re feeling your most motivated.

Do you prefer to exercise first thing in the morning, so it’s out of the way before an important appointment or anything else crops up? Can you only do evenings? Do you have a long lunch break that usually sees you twiddling your thumbs?

There’s no best or worst time to work out. All exercise sessions count the same, so pick the times that suit you.

Then put it in your calendar, if that helps. Or set an alarm or alert on your phone. Whatever it takes to remove the excuses and make it so you can’t forget it.

5. Have a backup plan

Life and circumstances can get in the way, and things can’t always go as smoothly as you like. So having a plan B ready and waiting can make all the difference.

If the gym is busy on chest day and all of your required weights and machines are taken, have something else in mind that you can do instead.

Your car broke down, and can’t even make it to the gym? Hit up YouTube for some at-home workout inspiration.

Being flexible with your options is key and will stop you from becoming stressed if things go against your plan A.

6. Create exercise triggers

The more you can make exercising an automatic process, the easier it will be.

Pack your bag the night before so you’re not tempted to skip exercising if you can’t find your workout clothes before heading out in the morning.

Leave your trainers in the way of your front door, so that you’d have to physically move them to leave the house. If you’re going to move them, you might as well take them with you.

Just seeing the things you associate with your workout routine will spark the idea in your head and create the momentum to follow the process through until the end.

7. Track your progress

We briefly mentioned this already during the Measurement aspect of SMART goals, but it bears repeating: Track what you do!

Monitoring your progress can help you stay motivated and push you in the right direction while showing you exactly how well you’re doing or if you need to step things up a bit.

Whether you prefer using fitness apps and wearable devices, you’re more of a spreadsheet type of person. Or if you like the old-school pen-and-paper system, note down exactly what you do in your workouts and what you eat during the week.

8. Treat yourself

Give yourself rewards along the way for a job well done.

If you hit a new PB in the gym or reach a key checkpoint in your plan, get yourself a new set of sneakers or book yourself in for a sports massage.

You’ll boost your motivation and try harder when you know you have treats coming up.

But you can only do this if you know what your plan is and where you are on it – yet another reason to track your development.

9. Be patient and be positive

Happy people working out

Don’t be too hard on yourself or get disheartened if things aren’t going to plan. Results are never instant, so focus on the good things you’ve done so far and how much progress you’ve made. You’ll get there.

Realise that it’s not all or nothing, either. Missing one session or caving in and ordering takeout on the weekend isn’t the be-all and end-all. It happened—put it behind you, then move on and get back to the plan as soon as you can.

One slip-up doesn’t ruin it all, just like one workout or healthy meal won’t turn you into an adonis overnight. It’s time and consistency that gets results.

Similarly, you can always reframe the situation when things aren’t going smoothly. 

For example, if you’re frustrated at the lack of workout stations available in the gym one day, switch your mindset and view that exercise time as an opportunity to try something new and test yourself instead.

10. Have an accountability partner

Training with a friend, family member, or workout buddy, or joining a fitness community is a great way to stay on track (and it’s also fun).

Having somebody to look out for you and monitor your progress holds you accountable to them as well as just yourself.

When you know your workout partner is relying on you to train with them, or a class expects you to attend, you’ll be far less likely to find reasons to skip sessions.

11. Get inspired

Take inspiration from what others have done before you, whether it’s looking to people you know personally or simply reading success stories online.

Social media can actually be quite good for some things, and this is one of them. There are plenty of great channels, athletes, and experts out there who can provide tips, advice, and motivation for your workout routine.

Likewise, write out mantras or quotes that resonate with you and put them in places where you’ll see them frequently.

12. Focus on you

While you should certainly take inspiration from others, remember that it’s not a competition. The good side of social media is that it can be educational and uplifting, the flipside is that it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to like minded fitness lovers.

But don’t worry about anybody else. Just be better than you were the day before. People gain muscle and lose weight at different rates, so if somebody is progressing faster than you, that’s OK.

For every person you envy in the gym or online, there’s likely just as many people thinking the same about you and wishing they had your body or results.

13. Visualise your success

What does success look like to you?

Really visualise what it is you want to achieve over the long haul, use it as mental fuel to keep you motivated.

Another way of looking at this is to “remember your why”. Ask yourself why you are doing this. Is it to look good? To feel more confident? To train for a race or competition? To improve your health for the sake of your family?

Whatever your ultimate reason is, keep it in the back of your mind at all times, so it’s ready to provide inspiration if you ever feel like giving up.

14. Supplement your workout routine

Woman drinking supplement

Alongside solid nutrition and workout plans, something else that can help you smash your physical fitness goals and lead a healthier lifestyle is a quality supplement regime.

The right supplements can enhance your workout routine, help you maintain a regular workout habit, and provide plenty of extra health benefits.

Protein powders will help you build muscle mass, boost your metabolism, and aid recovery after exercising. They’re also a great way to hit your macros.

You can even step this up another level by taking a mass gainer. Bulking up requires a lot of calories as well as regular strength training, and mass gainers are one of the easiest ways to increase your daily calorie intake cleanly.

Creatine can power your performance and bring extra intensity to your workouts. A daily serving will build up your body’s creatine stores for explosive power and strength—so you’ll be able to lift more and exercise for longer.

And if you struggle to get or stay motivated to work at the gym, a pre-workout supplement can provide the physical and mental energy you’ve been missing.

Check out the Crazy Nutrition range to grab some of these supplements and make your workout routine easier while making exercise feel exciting.

Then get out there and smash it!