Six Science-Backed Tips to Stick to Your New Year’s Fitness… – BarBend

The fittest people on the planet once struggled with their first push-up . No one is born in pristine physical condition; they’ve committed to getting themselves there. If you’ve decided in order to take the plunge and make this year your fittest yet, congratulations! As you’ll see, getting started is, quite literally, half the particular battle.  

But as soon as you’ve started, you have to stick to it. You may be riding a resolution high at the moment, but how do you fuel that fire for the rest of the 12 months — or the rest of your life? You need actionable, evidence-based tips to fall back on.  

ink hand weights and gloves on a calendar for fitness plan.
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Here are six tips for adhering to a fitness-based New Year’s resolution, plus how you can get the most out of every drop of sweat you shed along the way.  

How to Stick to Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution

Set the Right Goals

When it comes in order to fitness-oriented goals , whether as part of a New Year’s resolution or simply in pursuit of improving your health , you need to do a bit better than “I want to be fitter, ” — though that’s a perfectly reasonable starting point.

Your objectives or resolutions should be specific, clear, actionable , and, above all, laid out in the proper hierarchy . Well-defined goals will paint a better picture of your destination than vague or even nebulous ones. Moreover, establishing a goal structure lets you know where to direct your efforts on a day-to-day basis.

A person woking out in the gym.
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Think of goal setting like building a house. You need a strong foundation ; a base of support, a mission statement. Once you have that, you layer on top of it several smaller and more precise objectives. Your goal hierarchy should look something like this:

  • Superordinate Goal
  • Intermediate Goal
  • Subordinate Goal

The particular Science

Evidence indicates that will goal organization is the critical component of achieving success, both in and out of the particular weight room . ( 1 )( 2 ) It would do you little good to simply cast your own intent out into the universe and hope for the particular best. Much like a well-designed workout program , your fitness goals ought to be periodized as well.

Your superordinate goal is your broad-spectrum objective, such as improving your own health . Below that, you should have a number of clear intermediate goals ; the behaviors that contribute toward your health-related quality. Below that will lie your own subordinate targets — these are the specific behaviors you will enact in service of your larger goals.

People planking in the gym.
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Research supports this kind of organizational process as an effective means of adhering to your own goal or resolution. In real-world terms, this type of company hierarchy could look something like this:  

  • Superordinate Objective : I want to improve my health.  
  • Intermediate Goal : I will exercise more to improve the health.
  • Intermediate Goal : I will eat better in order to improve our health.
  • Intermediate Objective : We will take adequate rest to improve my health.  
  • Subordinate Goal : I actually will go to bed at a reasonable hour each night.
  • Subordinate Objective : I will limit screen exposure to a certain number of hours per day.
  • Subordinate Goal : We will avoid checking my work e-mail outside associated with standard working hours when able.  

Make a Positive Plan

You should strive to have a positive relationship with whatever objectives you’ve set for yourself. Goal-directed behavior is much more complex than “I want this particular, so I’m going in order to go get it. ” When this comes to altering your behaviors plus habits, your own brain   can be the powerful ally or a frustrating nuisance.  

A person doing a downward dog with the help of a coach.
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Whenever possible, put a positive spin upon whatever objective you’ve collection on your own . Your internal monologue, as well while how you approach self-talk, may impact the outcome of your efforts far more compared to you think. If you have a negative or even avoidance-oriented mindset, you might inadvertently hamstring yourself before you even get underway.  

The Science

When delving into the psychology behind goal setting, some researchers have discerned a clear divide between two types of goal “categories” — approach targets and avoidance goals . ( 3 )( 4 )

If you frame your fitness resolution inside avoidant conditions, you may be less likely to actually achieve the change you’re after. For example, framing a nutritionally-based behavior change as, “I must stop eating junk food , ” while well-intentioned, may become more detrimental than helpful. Avoidant actions and negative phrasing can create undue psychological stress and, according to some research, deter a person from staying on track with the change in the first place.  

Person planning fitness program with mentor in the gym.
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Instead, strive to frame your changes in an approach-oriented manner . Which is to say, simply, place a good spin on things. Instead of framing your resolution as some thing negative that you’ll quit, approach it as the new behavior that you’ll start.  

Research backs the power of small adjustments like this. Your own internal narrative is extremely potent, whether you realize this or not, and you should respect the leverage your mind may have over your actions.

Change Your Environment

Your own fitness resolution started in your own mind, so it makes perfect sense to develop a positive, goal-oriented mental framework around gaining some muscle , losing a bit of fat , or adjusting your dietary habits .

Your physical environment matters just as much. It can impact how well you adhere in order to your goals, or deter you from staying upon track altogether. As such, you should curate your bodily environment this kind of that obstacles or temptations are removed, and assistance is made readily available.  

The Science

When it comes to habit adherence , research indicates that your own environment plays a significant role in how you stay on the particular ball about things like eating well or exercising regularly . ( 5 ) Don’t worry, a person don’t require to drag your mattress into the weight room and actually live in the particular gym if your resolution is to get in much better shape.

A person using a fork on a salad, and holding a broccoli on the other hand.
Credit: Nok Lek Travel Lifestyle / Shutterstock

However, some sensible, tactical modifications to your living situation can go a long way. If you are trying to consume healthier this year and snack less often, the best way to remove temptation is in order to not purchase too many high-calorie treats in the first place. Or, store them in a cabinet or even pantry out of sight. Make them inconvenient to consume on a whim, plus, instead, keep healthful alternatives out within plain sight.  

With regards to exercise, you can set yourself up for success through the moment you get away of bed: Placing your phone or alarm clock on the far side associated with the bedroom will force you in order to physically find up to shut it off, which can make it easier to get going in the early hours. Similarly, you are able to place out your own workout clothing ahead of time or even pack your gym bag the night before.

Small changes like these add up and may help you build the momentum required to stay on monitor with a new health-related habit. Create an environment conducive in order to change, and you’ll find it much easier to keep on-program.  

Be Flexible

The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but your fitness journey is the winding road riddled with hurdles to overcome and barriers to smash through. You’re likely to make pit stops on the way or stray from the path entirely from time to time.  

To get where you want to go with your health or personal fitness, you should be flexible about the route a person take and the speed at which you travel . Be prepared to accommodate unforeseen circumstances , make modifications on the fly, or even give yourself a break entirely.  

Hand weights and a salad on a table.
Credit score: Nok Lek Travel Way of life / Shutterstock

This applies to your nutritional habits because much like it does the particular cadence plus frequency associated with your workouts . Slip-ups are natural and happen to everyone — when this comes in order to goal-directed conduct, what matters is exactly how you react and adapt to them.  

The Technology

Regarding nutrition and dietary practices , most contemporary research acknowledges the dichotomy between what’s called rigid versus flexible restraint. ( 6 ) This paradigm centers mainly around just how bodybuilders and other fitness-minded folk approach their eating routines, but the logic applies to motivation and goal-related behaviors of all sorts.  

Put simply, the science indicates that will versatile restraint — nutritional or otherwise — will be a more effective long-term strategy than rigid restraint . The particular former permits occasional lapses in adherence as good as a fluid strategy to your own actions and choices, while the latter flatly categorizes behaviours as either permissible or impermissible; “right” or “wrong. ”

So , say you have a New Year’s resolution associated with exercising within the gym three times per week, but , with regard to whatever reason, you can’t help to make it to the weight space for your second session. Rather of throwing in the towel altogether, you could hit up the quick bodyweight-only workout at home.  

A similar idea backs the practice of flexible dieting . If you have a diet-related quality you’re wanting to stick in order to, don’t beat yourself up for the particular once-in-a-while indulgence. In fact, many of your favorite foods can fit nicely in to the context of a health-oriented diet as the whole.  

No matter what your own resolution is usually, be prepared to adapt and adjust as necessary . You’ll have a better chance of success if you’re willing to embrace flexibility as a core tenet.  

Hit the Weights

If your New Year’s resolution involves hitting the weights on a regular basis, great. If not, a person should consider making resistance training at least a portion of your overall fitness regime . This particular doesn’t necessarily mean you possess to become a full-time, stringer-tank-clad, clanging plus banging gym rat — but regular strength training can do a lot for the overall workout goals.  

Person gray shirt performing lunges small barbell
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Not only does weight training improve various aspects associated with your actual physical health such as muscular strength and tone, bone density, metabolic efficiency, and much more, but it may also help you psychologically.  

The Science

Emergent study has illustrated a compelling relationship among weight coaching and what clinicians call “executive function, ” which, according to Harvard University’s department of childhood research, refers to “the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. ” ( 7 )( 8 )

Specifically, some of this new research has displayed a marked improvement inside acute self-control in the hrs following a weight training session , in addition to the already well-documented improvements in general cognition.  

So, in case lifting dumbbells isn’t part of your own resolution in some way, it probably should end up being . In case it is definitely, consider teaching at specific times . A lunch-hour lifting program may compel you to help make healthier food choices at lunch, regarding instance, rather than hitting up the drive-thru. Or even, you can smash the lifting workout early in the morning and reap the benefits intended for the rest of the workday .  

Take the Plunge

It might seem obvious, but inside order to achieve your New Year’s resolution(s), you have got to begin working towards them to begin with. But the psychology at the rear of goal-directed habits goes even deeper compared to that.  

A person on a treadmill in the gym
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Paralysis by analysis can be a real thing, plus can stymie you in a sludge associated with uncertainty, second-guessing, and self-doubt . It’s quite common for individuals to have the intent to make a behavior change, but wait endlessly for the perfect climate in order to do so. And, unfortunately, that time never comes.  

If you’re on the fence about taking the plunge into a fitness-oriented objective , don’t sit around waiting to get the exact right circumstances . An imperfect beginning is usually still a beginning, and setting the gears in motion is a lot more important than you think.  

The Technology

Investigations into the habit-forming processes of health psychology have returned some surprising findings. Particularly, some literature discusses that will habitual instigation — literally, beginning a good action in accordance with a health-related goal — is even more relevant like a success metric than habitual execution, or even completing said action. ( 9 )

The reasoning isn’t crystal clear, but this may have to perform with a phenomenon of positive momentum and self-efficacy. Oftentimes, breaking inertia is the most difficult part of any process (health-related or otherwise).  

So, should you be still around the fencing about starting, it’s time to hop off and get to work. Your efforts do not have to be perfect ; very few people have pristine squat technique when they put the bar on their own back pertaining to the 1st time. What matters is that you initiate the particular action.

Sample Workout Programs

Committing to a fitness goal is like planning a road trip . Sure, a person might know where you wish to end up. But how do you get there? You need the right vehicle that can go the distance — the best education plan.  

Luckily, BarBend has plenty of evidence-based training programs designed in order to assist you to break your objectives within the brand new year. Here are just a few that might be of use to a person:

Ever Forward

Sticking to a fitness quality is simpler said compared to done. This requires diligence, discipline , and determination. Having an assortment of well-thought-out targets can help you stay on track. They also provide you with the barometer against which you can measure your efforts. This can provide some much-needed encouragement plus inspiration to keep pushing forward.  

Should you be still in the process of mapping out your New Year’s resolutions, this particular guide need to help a person paint a clearer image of what you want to achieve along with your wellness. If you’ve already decided on the destination, great. You have miles to go before you rest, though, so keep your foot within the gas.  


  1. Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PloS one, 15(12), e0234097.
  2. Höchli Bettina, Brügger Adrian, Messner Claude. (2018) How Focusing upon Superordinate Objectives Motivates Broad, Long-Term Objective Pursuit: A Theoretical Perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, nine.
  3. Bailey R. R. (2017). Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(6), 615–618.
  4. Coats, E. J., Janoff-Bulman, L., & Alpert, N. (1996). Approach Versus Avoidance Targets: Differences within Self-Evaluation plus Well-Being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(10), 1057–1067.
  5. Wood, W., Tam, L., & Witt, M. Gary the gadget guy. (2005). Changing circumstances, disrupting habits. Journal of personality and social psychology, 88(6), 918–933.
  6. Helms, E. Ur., Prnjak, K., & Linardon, J. (2019). Towards a Sustainable Nutrition Paradigm in Physique Sport: A Narrative Review. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 7(7), 172.
  7. Huang, T. Y., Chen, F. To., Li, 3rd there’s r. H., Hillman, C. H., Cline, Capital t. L., Chu, C. They would., Hung, Big t. M., & Chang, Y. K. (2022). Effects of Acute Resistance Exercise on Executive Function: The Systematic Review of the Moderating Role of Intensity and Professional Function Domain. Sports medicine – open, 8(1), 141.
  8. Executive Function & Self-regulation. Center on the Developing Child in Harvard University. (2020, March 24).
  9. Gardner, B., Phillips, L. A., & Judah, G. (2016). Habitual instigation and regular execution: Definition, measurement, and effects upon behaviour frequency. British diary of health psychology, 21(3), 613–630.

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