Some people just plain hate lifting weights. That’s unfortunate, considering enjoyment is key for sticking with a lifting routine long enough to see the strength- and muscle-building benefits.
“If you’re forcing yourself to train every day, you’re not going to have a good time, and you’re not going to give it everything you have,” says Joel Freeman, a Beachbody super trainer and creator of the LIIFT4 program. Chances are you won’t keep it up.
The CDC recommends doing at least two days of strength training every week, making sure to work all your major muscle groups (glutes, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, back, biceps, triceps, abdominals). But if you can swing it, 3–4 days of strength training is ideal, according to Freeman.
Use these seven methods to make those days more bearable. Who knows, you may even come to love lifting.
IDENTIFY YOUR “WHY”
You’re more likely to enjoy your training if you know why you’re doing it. So, answer this question: What are you hoping to get out of lifting weights?
Your mind may automatically turn to aesthetic goals like building muscle or losing fat, or performance goals like deadlifting twice your bodyweight. Those goals are great, but it’s easy to lose steam when you don’t see major changes in a short time. “People are very impatient. They start working, and they want to see results in one week,” Freeman says.
By all means, keep those aesthetic goals, but dig a little to find deeper reasons for lifting because that will keep you going when your six-pack doesn’t pop up in a couple of weeks. Start by thinking of all the things strength training can help you do better: carry groceries, ski or mountain bike, keep up with your kids, etc.
TRY DIFFERENT TRAINING STYLES
There are many ways to train your muscles. So, if you haven’t had a good experience with strength training in the past, it could be that you haven’t found the right style for you.
Play around with different forms of weight training until you find something that clicks. Some options include:
- General strength
- Bodybuilding (training for bigger muscles)
- Powerlifting (training for brute strength in the squat, bench press, and deadlift)
- Bootcamp-style circuit training
- Calisthenics (bodyweight-only) training
- Olympic lifting
- Powerbuilding (a combination of powerlifting and bodybuilding)
“You gotta find something you enjoy because then you’re gonna be more prone to doing it regularly, versus finding an excuse not to do it,” Freeman says.
SIGN UP FOR A CLASS
For added encouragement and expert guidance, take a virtual or in-person class (if you can do it safely).
Classes also offer a great opportunity to mix up your training. You can often find ones that combine strength training with other exercises, like yoga, cardio or even mixed martial arts.
See if your local gym or fitness studio offers online classes or try digital platforms.
RECRUIT A FRIEND (OR TWO)
Training with friends can motivate you to lift when you wouldn’t otherwise. Clang iron with a friend in your garage, join a virtual class, or swap advice with like-minded people in an online fitness community.
TURN UP THE MUSIC
Few things make a weight session crawl by like hearing nothing but your own heavy breathing. Use music to fill the empty space and keep you pumped to lift. “Just put your favorite playlist on, crank it up, and get it done,” Freeman says.
HAVE FUN WITH FITNESS EQUIPMENT
Sometimes, the best way to inject a little fun into your routine is to swap out your go-to for a different tool. If you usually lift dumbbells, for example, kettlebells could be a great alternative (and vice versa). Or, you could try an entirely new tool, like battle ropes, prowler sleds or suspension trainers.
What tool you try will depend on your budget, whether you’re at home or in the gym, and how much skill is involved. Here are several at-home and in-gym tools to try:
- Resistance bands
- Prowler sleds
- Battle ropes
- Medicine balls
- Cable machines
- Weight machines
- Suspension trainers
- Wall balls
- Wrist and ankle weights
- Adjustable weights
- Stability balls
- BOSU balance trainers
LEARN A SKILL
There are many challenging, skill-focused strength exercises to conquer. Choose an exercise that intrigues you and get to work.
If nothing comes to mind, consider one of these moves:
- Kettlebell or barbell snatch
- Turkish getup
- Pistol squat
- Single-arm overhead squat
- Barbell squat
However, don’t try to nail these moves on your own. Work with a fitness professional who can help you stay safe and injury-free during the process. He or she can provide exercises to help you build up the strength and mobility needed to do the full movement and make sure your form is on-point.
Check out “Workout Routines” in the MyFitnessPal app to discover and log workouts or build your own with exercises that fit your goals.