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It’s been said that workouts are 90% mental. And that showing up is half the battle. So with the following tips, we want to help you stay true to whichever exercise plan you are following. 

Both these statements are true. If you’re not putting mind over matter, sticking to your exercise plan is questionable at best. 

How can we motivate ourselves to get to the gym when we’re stuck in a rut? 

I propose we look at various accountability tips and tricks taken from psychology and years of exercise science. At Fitplan, we’re all about helping people take charge of their lives through a strong mind and body connection. 

We’ve compiled a list of the 11 most effective mental and physical tools you can use to stick to your workout plan.

Let’s make it happen!

1) ✅ Set The Bar Low

I begin here because it’s important to manage expectations around your workout plan. If you’re setting the pace for a new exercise routine, go slow to go fast. You wouldn’t start a marathon (and lifelong fitness is a marathon) by sprinting, would you? 

Instead of setting out to hit the gym 5-6 times per week, begin by asking yourself to complete 1-2 workouts per week. This way you’ll get a feel for the exercises, get used to being in the gym and feel like you’re accomplishing something.

Which you are, but changes are just slow to arrive. Our instant-gratification culture bombards us with images of “how we should look” and has us comparing ourselves to everyone else. You know it’s very easy to get discouraged amongst a gym full of regulars. Remember, these people have been doing this for years. Focus on yourself and what you can control today.

Become accustomed to your change in schedule, your new soreness and appreciate what it is you’re doing. Change happens slowly. Be sure to thank yourself every time you make it to the gym – it’s a win.

2) ✅ Talk Less. Do More.

When it’s gym day, best keep it to yourself. 

Psychology tells us that talking about an activity we’re going to perform often backfires and thwarts our motivation to complete the task we’ve announced to others. 


Voicing out intents has a rewarding effect in the mind and almost makes us feel like we’ve accomplished the task at hand already. 

Wait to mention your gym plans until people start asking if you’ve been working out recently.

3) ✅ Make Your Workout Fun!

If you’re getting excited about your workouts, odds are you won’t have a hard time exercising today. Looking forward to rewarding physical activity turns “ugh, gym time” into the highlight of your day. 

Imagine an activity you’ve always wanted to try … rock climbing? martial arts? ballet? All these exercises will melt fat and calories to give you a trim, taut physique. 

Joining an intramural sports team or taking group classes offers both an intense workout and a positive social element. 

Your mission is to listen to yourself and answer the question: What’s the most fun way I can get physical today?

4) ✅ Bring A Buddy

Peer influence is a powerful motivator and a great accountability tip for anyone looking to workout better. Pairing up with a friend or colleague provides mutual accountability that you’re less likely to excuse yourself from. 

Use this person as your support. You’ll be hesitant to flake on someone else than just yourself, 

Studies show you’ll work out for longer with a pal. Plus, you’ll have someone there to spot you and cheer you toward your best workout possible.

Looking forward to some buddy-buddy time will also support your gym habits, even if you’re not initially so excited for the sweating.

5)  Compete At Something

Competition is highly motivating for humans because it adds a deeper meaning to any activity.

My trick for getting the most out of treadmill runs? Choosing someone on the treadmill to my left or right and pretending to race them. Works like a charm because I have to be my best, instead of just doing another run for an allotted distance or time.

Training for competition also adds greater significance to your workouts. How hard would you exercise if you knew you had an upcoming boxing match? Harder, I bet. 

When I have a 5k or half marathon coming up, I definitely ramp up my cardio and am sure not to skip a day before the event.

6)  Compose A Killer Playlist

If you’re trusting the local gym’s taste in music, it’s time to get serious about your energy levels. 

Find some bangin’ tunes that really fire you up and make a burner playlist. Pack your phone or iPod with your favorite upbeat music and you’ll carry this musical energy with you into a stellar workout. I personally have a hard time going to the gym without my favorite playlists.

In his revealing book Power vs. Force, David R. Hawkins, Ph.D. shows us that music with positive lyrics and message actually gives us 10-15% more strength than angry, negative or hateful songs. 

When making your playlist, choose fast songs between 120-180 beats per minutes (BPM). For example, choose some electronic music, heavy rock or hip-hop. Analyze the BPMs of your music library with this app.

7)  Set A Clear Goal

Having something to work toward always helps. 

A great short-term goal is to lose five pounds. It’s both difficult and attainable, takes time, but is foreseeably near. 

What’s beautiful about small goals is after you’ve accomplished one, you get a swell of confidence (and oxytocin) from your accomplishment. And you can set another goal – or the same one. 

However, what if you say, “I want to get in shape?” 

That’s not a measurable goal (here’s how to set clear goals that you can measure). It’s impossible to track as an accountability tip. You could lose 10 pounds but still not feel good about your body and give up on the effort. It’s important to acknowledge your successes and set attainable markers for fitness aspirations. 

The best way to stay motivated is to acknowledge how much you’ve achieved and remind yourself you’re close to your next small goal. Find a happy medium between goals won and goals to reach.

8)  Use A Visual Aid

It’s a common practice to keep track of your progress with a visual aid. 

For example, grab a wall calendar and mark an “X” over every day you go to the gym. This way, every time you look at your wall you’ll see how far you’ve come. You’ll also be less inclined to break the chain and disrupt your momentum. 

Replacing a sweaty, grueling workout with a simple mark on the board makes all that physical difficulty into something abstract, takes it out from your body and moves it into your mind. Now you’re looking to add another “X” instead of avoiding the next workout. 

This now famous productivity secret and accountability tip empowers us with constancy while effectively building new habits.

9) ✅ Make An Agreement 

Everyone wants to see you succeed in your fitness goals, so leverage the support of your loved ones for this accountability tip.

With your health on the line, your spouse, kids, parents or partner will happily make a trade with you to incite a new, beneficial routine. 

Maybe you and your loved ones agree to challenge another to a workout plan. Or your husband agrees to take over your responsibilities for an hour while you hit the gym. Perhaps your kids will help around the house more to help dad get into shape to play football with them. Get creative about swapping rewards for healthy, guilt-free motivators.

10) ✅ Start With The Hard Part

Why do so many guys walk around with big upper bodies and toothpick legs? 

Because squats, deadlifts, and lunges are downright painful. My personal accountability tip is to always start with what’s most important. In the world of fitness, that’s usually what’s hardest.

We have the most energy when arriving to the gym. So, diving into the most difficult exercises is best. This way there aren’t any excuses later, only great feelings for having done what’s most difficult and directly necessary.

11) ✅ Make A Plan

Start each month by organizing your workout schedule. 

This will install a long-term goal in your mind and help you visualize future successes. If your average weekly workouts is four, plot out four workouts per week in your day planner or wall calendar. 

Heck, set alarms and calendar alerts on your phone, if needed. 

The simple act of planning to complete the workouts will help you complete them. Your final accountability tip: tack on any leftover workouts from this coming month onto the new month.


It’s harder to build the mental toughness needed to maintain a strong workout routine. The body is only flesh and bone, but the mind is an infinitely complex system full of histories, wants and needs. And most of those things are telling you now to go exert yourself. 

Your workout plan can become both a consistent and rewarding reality if you practice these techniques. Experiment with these accountability tips because one or some may not do it for you. Patiently work through each and combine the ones that work best for you. This is how I recommend keeping yourself motivated and ready to tackle your exercise program! 

Fitplan helps you achieve your fitness goals by sharing the exact training methods of the world’s top athletes!

Best of all? It’s free to get started!

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Accountability Tips Bonus: Download the Fitplan Checklist for the 10 key questions to ask before you think about hitting the gym!