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The 2-Week Rule That Helps You Stick to Your Workout

The 2-Week Rule That Helps You Stick to Your Workout

You may have heard the advice that if you’re feeling unmotivated to exercise, just do the first five minutes. The idea is that once you get going, the momentum you’ve built will carry you through the rest of your workout.

Why not apply that same principle to starting a new training program?

Introducing “the two-week rule.” The idea is to start small — just two weeks of any new workout you want to start — and then fine tune.

After all, the second week of a new program is when the shine and newness of your endeavor begins to wear off and the hard work really begins.

“You can do anything — you can make any change, or embrace any new routine — for two weeks,” explained contributing editor Jeff Haden. “If you can't, then you've clearly chosen a goal that doesn't mean enough to you.”

Or maybe it’s not the goal that needs altering but your strategy to achieve it. Let’s say you start a bodybuilding program like Fit Body’s Strong, with the goal of getting stronger and building muscle. After two weeks of consistently adhering to the program, take a minute to reflect not just on your progress (there may not be any physical changes at this point) but how you feel about your new workouts.


Perhaps, if you’re doing a traditional weight-lifting program, the rest periods between sets are too long and you’re getting bored. Conversely, maybe you’re doing a HIIT-style workout and you’re completely drained after each session — and not in a proud, accomplished way. Or you may not have even made it the full two weeks.

This is really good feedback! It doesn’t make you a failure or not fit enough and it shouldn’t be an excuse to abandon exercise altogether. Instead, see if you can make small modifications to certain aspects of the program.

Maybe you back off a bit on the intensity of your HIIT workouts, lower the weight you’re using to something more manageable (don’t let your ego get in the way!), or cut down on the number of sets if time is the issue.

woman working out at home


Or if the program really doesn’t suit your preferences, it’s alright to switch. For example, if you started the Strong program, but you can’t manage to fit 90 minutes of exercise into your busy schedule, you may want to try Tone or Sculpt, which both still focus on strength training but are much shorter workouts.

Breaking down your goals into two-week increments gives you the chance to get used to a new program and make changes as needed rather than feeling like you’ve messed up some grand 12-week plan.

So if it’s just motivation you’re lacking, tell yourself you’re going to give it two more weeks, then make it to 8 weeks, then 12. Breaking it down into 2- to 4-week sections can make it seem more doable than trying to tackle all 12 weeks (or more) at once.

After all, the goal should be to find a type of workout that you enjoy doing and can consistently do over the long-term. Because, as plenty of people’s success stories suggests:

It takes 4 weeks to feel a change
It takes 8 weeks to see a change
It takes 12 weeks for the rest of the world to take notice

And beyond that, you have a habit that will keep you strong and healthy for life!


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