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Let me confess something. I really dislike going to the gym. Like, a lot.

However, I love looking muscular and fit as well as feeling healthy, strong and energized throughout the day.

I love that I can easily walk kilometers through tropical heat without feeling sick.

I love that my hangovers aren’t too bad and I love the positive outlook that being in shape gives me.

So for me, it was important to find the paths of least resistance so that I could find an attainable rhythm that I didn’t hate too much. Otherwise, I probably would’ve quit it all after a few weeks.

Hardcore bodybuilders and personal trainers might disagree with these tips; these are not tips on the best ways to get fit quickly and maximize your level of fitness, nope. These are not tips to get the best return for your time.

Instead, These are tips to get fit in the easiest and least unpleasant way possible so that you can get into a sustainable routine and be permanently fit long-term. Tips to make it so that you don’t hate fitness so much that you quit after a few weeks.

Here we go:

1) Have Positive Psychology Towards the Gym

I hate to say it, but unless you work construction or have a home gym, you are probably going to need to go to the gym if you want your muscles to get bigger.

If the gym to you is seen as an intimidating, painful, high-stress experience then it’s going to be pretty difficult to get yourself to go there, isn’t it?

Instead, try to perceive the gym as something that’s just a mundane, yet required, part of the day, like brushing your teeth or washing the dishes.

Dishes in a sink.
Like washing dishes, the gym should be seen as a mundane part of your day, not something intrusive and threatening.

How to do this?

Well, first of all, your gym should be near your home, ideally within walking distance. That way, it doesn’t seem like going to the gym is a massive mission. If you can be out of bed and walking in the front door of your gym within 10 minutes, then in your mind going to the gym won’t seem like such a big deal.

A man wearing gym clothes walking to the gym.
A gym within short walking distance is great.

When you wash the dishes, do you think, “oh man this sucks so much, how can I do this every day for the rest of my life??”? No? Well, don’t think about the gym like that either. Like ex-alcoholics and ex-drug addicts say, “take it one day at a time.” Or better still, take it one set at a time.

A man waking up with a smile on his face.
It’s important to perceive the gym with a positive attitude.

When I wake on gym day (every 2nd day usually), I just think “Ok, time to go do 20 reps on my favorite chest press machine.” I don’t think about the other types of sets I will do after that, and I definitely don’t think about how I will need to do the same thing again and again indefinitely in order to maintain fitness (even though, unfortunately, that is true).

If you do find your mind drifting off to the future on gym days, then try to look at it positively. Think about how, even 2 weeks from now, you will be stronger and easier able to lift what you had difficulty lifting today (or doing whatever type of exercise you’re doing). Also, like quitting any addiction, the first days (and weeks) are definitely the most difficult. You may feel sick, in pain and completely fat, weak and demoralized your first few times at the gym after a long break (such as covid lockdown) but just remember: generally, every day at the gym gets easier if you stick with it. Unless you’re hungover as f*ck.

An exhausted woman sits against the wall at the gym.
Just remember, the first days and weeks at the gym are the most difficult. After that, it’s much easier.

It’s all about having a good relationship with your perception of the gym. How else can you get that?

2) Don’t Over Do It

Yes, you will get a better workout and you will get stronger and healthier if you go all out aggro at the gym every time. It is a more efficient use of time and money to put in 110% effort every single time your go to the gym for sure. But for me, if I did this every time then it would be pretty difficult for me to get myself out the door to the gym every 2nd morning.

Definitely challenge yourself to improve and go a little harder than you did last week, but don’t absolutely exhaust yourself, especially if you still have a lot of sh*t to do that day

I want to leave the gym after about an hour or hour and a half thinking “that wasn’t too bad, I can definitely do that 3 more times this week”. Rather than having a super-gnarly, painful workout and then having a mental block about going to the gym for the next week. It’s a Turtle and Hare situation in my opinion.

An exhausted hare sleeping.
Go too hard in too short of a time and you will be physically and mentally exhausted eventually.

I’m happy to slowly and steadily get bigger and stronger. I’m in no rush to get to maximum fitness, not planning on dying anytime soon. If I consistently go to the gym 3-4 times a week, I know I’ll see gains, even if I’m only lifting slightly more than I did last week (you should definitely increase weight periodically, even if it’s only gradually).

What’s another way to have a good relationship with the gym and get fit for the least amount of effort possible?

3) Use Easy Fixed Weight Machines, Have Favorite Machines

Yeah, maybe if I ever go to prison I’ll want to look badass af shredding a free-weight bench press without a spotter, but I personally go to the gym to get stronger and healthier, not to feel cool. Granted, It is objectively a better workout to use free weights (you engage your micro muscles when keeping the weights steady), but I’m guna be honest, when I’m really hungover (or anytime), sitting down in a comfy chair in a nice, modern, safe-looking chest press machine is so much less of a psychological hill than laying down with a bar of heavy cold steel hovering over my face.

A man using a comfy looking chest press machine.
You can still get your chest big af using a nice, comfy fixed weight chest press machine.

I have a few of my favorite fixed-weight machines and I use those machines every time I go to the gym. I don’t work out my legs, I don’t care about having muscular legs. I want my chest, arms, back and abs to be strong, so I choose the easiest-to-use machines that work out those areas. I don’t want to lie down on the floor to do situps, I like my fancy ab-chair machine where I feel like I’m strapping myself into a rollercoaster.

A woman using an advanced-looking ab crunch machine.
I’d way rather use this technologically-advanced-lookin’-like contraption than lay on the floor and do sit-ups.

Technology has made every other aspect of our lives easier, why not let it make the gym easier too?

Speaking of technology…

4) Drink Protein Powder After Every Gym Sesh

Yoooo I love this stuff. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even go to the gym if I didn’t have my protein powder. If you drink protein powder after your gym session, it’s like you just went to the gym 1.5 times. Instead of going to the gym 4 times last week, you went 6.

I use Nitro-Tech protein powder (cus’ some dude in a protein powder shop in Danang recommended it to me 2 years ago) from MuscleTech and I was surprised at how quickly my chest and arms got big (a few weeks). I’ve been through a few canisters of it by now.

A man sitting next to a canister of Nitrotech protein powder and a protein smoothie.

Every day after I workout, I drink a banana (potassium), avocado (healthy fats), protein powder smoothie, and I drink it while I go for a short walk around the park. Usually, that’s enough for me that I don’t need to eat breakfast, so it’s great for weight loss too; protein powder just becomes muscle, not fat, if consumed after the gym.

One bad thing about this powder though; I’ve found that if you miss going to the gym for even a few days, you’ll lose a lot of that mass quickly. It seems to produce results quickly but diminishes quickly too. On the plus side, if you are going out that night and want to look jacked in the bar or for your Tinder date, then definitely get a serving of protein powder in you in the morning.

Anyway, there’s more to being fit and healthy than just being muscular though.

5) Mix It Up with Walks

Although running is a quicker and better way to get in shape, I personally really enjoy walking around and seeing the city. I can’t f*ckin’ run for 30 minutes straight, but I can easily and happily walk around for an hour or 2. Every second morning (non-gym days) I go for a walk through somewhere interesting in the city at a pretty decent pace.

Sometimes I run errands. Sometimes I sightsee a bit. Sometimes I walk through a beautiful park. Sometimes I brainstorm about what I will write about when I get home. Always I put on a dope playlist.

Whatever I do, I generally enjoy this time and it doesn’t feel like exercise. It’s chill, often productive and even informative at times; I often see something new in the city or develop new ideas while I’m walking.

Vietnamese women wearing ao dai (traditonal Vietnamese dresses) on Nguyen Hue walking street in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Go walk around your city; you might see something interesting.

Although it doesn’t feel like exercise, it definitely is. Walking for even one hour a day, at a brisk pace, will burn close to 500 calories. That’s easily enough to lose weight if you’re also keeping your diet in check. Also, after a few weeks of doing this, you’ll have gangster cardio and be able to do everything better and for longer without getting tired, even mental tasks such as working or going out drinking.

This is my favorite way to get in shape, and perhaps the most underrated. Regularly go for long walks and being fit just kinda creeps up on ya.

Not the Most Efficient Methods, but the Easiest

Some people love going to the gym; some people are addicted to the gym. I wish I were one of them.

However, I’m not and probably never will be, so I’ve had to use these methods to kind of trick myself into getting in shape. They’ve created surprisingly successful results for me; maybe they can for you too.




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9 months ago

Thank you for all these tips you have awaken me again to do weights again. Love the way you write form your prespective. Thank you