How to Implement a Rewards System to Keep You Working Out

Gym partner
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Keeping up a workout schedule is no easy feat, especially when you’re just starting out. As you form habits, working out regularly will come more naturally to you—but in those first months, finding the energy to wake up early or to go to the gym after a hard day can feel close to impossible. One thing that may help is to implement a rewards system for yourself to incentivize habit-forming. Here are some suggestions on how to do that.

Tie the Reward to the Activity

One way to ensure your “reward” is something you get specifically for working out is to make it something inherent to what you want to do. For example, maybe you stop somewhere for a snack on the way home from the gym—if you don’t go to the gym, you won’t pass that place you like, and you won’t get to eat that snack. Or maybe you plan a hike or a bike ride that ends at a beautiful lookout—you won’t get to see that view if you don’t do the work to get there.

Get a Buddy

If at all possible, find a friend or even just an acquaintance to start forming habits with you. It’s much easier to stick with a routine when someone is checking in on you or especially doing it with you. If you’ve got a buddy, you can help each other come up with good rewards and then check in to make sure the other is sticking to the agreement.

Only Rewards, No Punishments.

In conventional wisdom, the other side of the “carrot” is the “stick”. But you should never deprive yourself or feel shame for not reaching your goals, missing a workout, or even missing a lot of workouts. Shame only makes it harder to form healthy habits, not to mention being harmful to your mental health and self-esteem. Everyone progresses at their own pace, and different routines and methods work for different people. So try your best to be kind and patient to yourself, because that’s the most important part of being healthy.