Live Better
 
 

How to make your workout a game

Recharge your workout motivation by injecting an element of play. Fitness professional Todd Liubinskas offers some ideas.

Father doing sit-ups with daughter sitting on his legs . They are in gym, exercising together.

Workouts and training will always be hard work – they’re meant to be! But fitness is also meant to be fun. That’s what makes it sustainable over the longer term. When it’s enjoyable and you have little incentives to keep going, it makes a big difference.

As kids we create fun games to make mundane things seem more exciting, so why not as adults? Fun and play turn our focus away from any pain or discomfort we might be feeling, so you don’t even really remember that you’re working out.

Gamifying your workout is one of the simplest ways that you can inject some fun and motivation, and also track your progress over time. Here are some ways you can make your workout more like a game.

Set a rep challenge

Count your reps completed in each session and challenge yourself on your previous record. You might go for the highest rep count for a set of exercises while maintaining correct technique.

Alternatively, set the number of reps and see how fast you can complete it. How quickly can you row 500 m while maintaining correct technique?

Get yourself a fitness tracker

This will enable you to set all sorts of little challenges for yourself, whether it’s number of steps in a day, calories burned in a workout or effort based on your heart rate zones.

Download an app

There are all sorts of fun fitness apps that help you turn common types of exercise into a game, whether it’s running away from zombies or taking on a superhero role.

Play with intervals

If you’re out running, use trees, street lights and other markers to create little games for yourself for some interval training. Sprint as fast as you can to that tree 50 m away, or tell yourself you’re going to do box jumps on the park bench until you see someone walking a dog, or until you spot a red car.

Try the tunnel workout

Tunnel workouts are a great way to integrate partners into your workouts and relive the tunnel ball philosophy, but with exercises. Have a series of exercises you are going to do and complete each exercise at a certain amount of reps, with a partner behind you. The partner or partners cannot start each exercise until you have completed your reps.

Let cards or dice guide you

Assign a specific exercise to each number on the dice or to each suit in the deck. Then start rolling or dealing!

Use music in a new way

Try playing a game where you challenge yourself to complete a certain activity by the end of the song, or sustain an activity for the length of the song.

Reward yourself

Remember as kids when your parents would give you a sticker on your wall chart if you did a chore? Why not make a chart for yourself and set some tangible goals, identifying in advance what your reward will be if you achieve it.

Play make-believe

Use your imagination to create a challenge and inject some child-like wonder into your workout. Imagine the ground is suddenly super hot – how do you get from one side of the playground to the other, touching the ground as little as possible? Or you can pretend every fifth crack in the pavement is actually a hurdle that you have to jump high over. People may think you’re a little strange – but who cares!

Set up a FaceTime workout with friends or family

This is a great way to stay connected with friends and family who might live overseas or far away, and share a common interest in fitness while catching up.

Just find something you love

The key to learning to love your workout is to find an activity you really like. The beauty of the fitness industry is that there are so many options out there. If you like to train in a group, or you need music to train or you want to train solo – whatever it is, identify what makes you tick and go for it.

Once you give yourself that little push, you’ll find the exercise itself will enhance your state of mind, making it easier to do it again. When you put your body under stress, like when in a workout, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel good.

All of this sets you off in a direction of positive thinking, so you’ll end up saying to yourself, “Hey this is actually good for me. As much as I am hating doing a burpee, I know it’s what I need right now.”

Work out with Todd at Sydney’s Coaching Zone.

Latest Articles

Exercise

Feeling the beat: Anna Seymour

Deaf dancer Anna Seymour shares how she connects with music.

Read more
Exercise

5 ways to be more active at work

Physical activity offers endless benefits.

Read more
Exercise

Fun workout ideas to try this summer

Fitness and fun really can go hand in hand.

Read more
Exercise

How long does it take to lose your fitness?

Find out how inactivity affects your strength and cardio.

Read more
Exercise

What’s the best time of day to exercise?

Should you work out in the morning, afternoon or night?

Read more
Exercise

Is personal training worth it?

Here are some of the benefits a PT can give you.

Read more
Exercise

Should I run heel-toe or toe-heel?

The research on whether there’s a winning way to run.

Read more
Exercise

Your exercise survival kit

Must haves to prevent wear and tear.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4