Weekday workouts

How to make weekday workouts (actually) happen

Words: Melanie Dimmitt

Image: Marceau Photography

In the chaos that occurs between Monday and Friday, sleep-ins and slinking home at five often win out over schlepping to the studio. But somewhere in these 120 hours, putting aside the 40 that we probably work, and 50 we (ideally) sleep, there’s a decent chunk of time –around 30 hours, if you do the math – that we can whittle away on what matters most. If moving your bod is up there on the priorities list (and with regular exercise linked to increased happiness, reduced anxiety and maybe even a better pay cheque, why wouldn’t it be?) but a no-show on your calendar, the struggle lies in putting those best intentions into action. Want to promote your workouts from guest star to series regular? Here’s how…


It’s a truth universally acknowledged that once you schedule something – as in literally write or type it into your diary – it’s more likely to happen. A hefty 42 per cent more likely according to a study of 267 people from all walks of life, half of whom wrote down their goals on a regular basis. The trick here? Take some time on a Sunday to plan your sessions and be specific. You’re not going to class this week, you’re going on Thursday at 6pm. Hot tip? Kick things off on Monday. According to daily habits guru Gretchen Rubin if you start the week on the right foot you’re more likely to workout on Tuesday, Wednesday and beyond.


On the topic of timing, many argue that midday is when we should be working out. It’s around this hour that our strength tends to peak – and there are oodles of benefits to getting off your butt and breaking sweat on your lunch break (no need to set your alarm earlier, for one). Research has shown that fitting fitness into your working day increases productivity, so you’ll bounce back to the office full of beans, and it can also bust you out of a creative slump. Just be sure to save the souvlaki till after your sesh.


… and your sports bra closer. Better still, if your job allows it, wear them to work – as this will significantly up your chances of slipping in some exercise. So says the theory of “enclothed cognition“, which describes the “systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes”. One study found that participants dressed in a lab coat performed attention-requiring tasks better, and the same logic can apply to athletic wear. If you look the part, you’ll play the part. (Hint: it also pays to keep some deodorant and dry shampoo at the ready).


We’re guilty creatures by nature, so promising to hit the barre with a buddy makes us all the more accountable in the workout stakes. The Daily Mail reported that 64 per cent of women who workout find that they push themselves harder – and attend more sessions – in company, while close to a third of us consider our friends to be our biggest fitness motivators. According to Stanford University, even the occasional check-in phone call with a friend can increase our workout mileage by a whopping 78 per cent. 


If you really want to start a new habit, don’t base your intentions on the impossible. For some the prospect of rising before the sun is unfathomable. For others skipping Friday after-work drinks isn’t going to happen, while a few of us couldn’t possibly break our Wednesday night date with The Bachelor (no judgement). Whatever your weaknesses are, identify those suckers and work with, not against them. Realistic goals are much more motivating than those set way out of reach, so start by aiming for a couple of weekday workouts and see where they take you.