Overcome friction and stick to a workout routine

Overcome friction and stick to a workout routine

Alex Burgar Alex Burgar
7 minute read

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We’ve seen them so many times before: YouTube videos recommending complex workout plans, spreadsheet templates for tracking your speeds, times, and intensity, targeted ads suggesting we need this or that to take our training to the next level. It’s overwhelming. And before you know it, you just don’t want to work out anyway. You don’t want to get your sports clothes on, you don’t have the energy to program your rowing machine, and you sure as heck don’t want to log your stats afterwards. There’s too much in the way to stick to a workout routine.

That’s friction. The barrier between you and achieving your goals. The reason you find it hard to stick to a workout routine. Friction is the time and effort you have to put in to start and then finish working out. It’s the biggest obstacle in the way of consistency, and consistency is the key to seeing a change.

We all encounter friction in our daily lives, such as not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because it’s cold outside the covers and your dressing gown is all the way across the room. But many people find that friction especially interferes with their exercise routine, and unfortunately we can’t all be super motivated all the time! So now we know what friction is, how can we go about combatting it?

A woman sits on a rowing machine, in low light, wearing workout clothes. The asensei logo is in the corner

What are some quick fixes?

Unfortunately when it comes to removing friction in your daily life, there are no true quick fixes. You have to work out how to remove the obstacle, and that can be a long process. However, there are some hacks you can use to help yourself!

Start small. Sometimes the thought of doing a long workout — or activity of any kind — can feel overwhelming and uninviting. An hour of intense training after a long day at work? No, thanks! Starting small can help you regain motivation and get rid of friction. Promise yourself you’ll do just five minutes of rowing, and if you want to do more, you can carry on. We bet you’ll feel great and carry on!

You may have heard of the Pomodoro Technique. Whilst developed primarily as a work or study strategy, the Pomodoro Technique can be used and adapted for anything you need motivation for, from cleaning your house to working out! The idea is that you work for 25 minutes, then rest for 5, then work for 25, then rest for 10. The way the Pomodoro Technique works is by giving you a promised timeframe and a promised break — and you can apply this to your workouts too.

Set up your environment to support your goal. When you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, even the smallest obstacle can provide an insurmountable amount of friction. Setting up your environment to eliminate all the small obstacles can help you overcome them, and all you need to do is predict what might stand in your way. Let’s take the dressing gown example. You might struggle to get out of bed — especially on a cold winter morning when it’s still dark — because you don’t want to leave the nice warm covers. How can you encourage yourself to leave the warmth and get up? You could move your dressing gown or slippers so they’re right by your bed, and you only have to face the cold for a moment: you can jump right out of bed! When it comes to a workout, this might mean getting your workout clothes ready the night before, so you don’t even have to get them out of the drawer. It might mean having asensei open on your phone overnight so you know what workout awaits. Anticipate your friction and set up your environment to avoid it!

Stack your habits. You’re much more likely to stick with something if it’s become a habit, and this requires you to build a habit. Chances are you’ve already built quite a lot of habits without even realising it, and you can use these to integrate new ones with habit stacking. This is just taking something new you want to do, and attaching it to an existing habit — creating a routine. For example, you probably get out of bed and make breakfast every morning. While your porridge is simmering, why not do a quick 20 minute workout session with one of our coaches? If you do this every morning, over time it’ll become an integral part of your routine, and you won’t even think about doing it anymore — the friction is gone and you’re more likely to stick to your workout routine.

Vary your activities. Boredom is friction! Varying your activities can keep you motivated and excited to work out. Why not plan a weekly wildcard workout where you pick an activity you haven’t tried before, or a workout style you’re intrigued by?

Plan! Hold yourself accountable by planning your workout in advance. Often we feel like we just don’t have time, but by planning in advance, we find that actually, we have plenty of time, even if it’s just half an hour. Calendar blocking is a time management technique that involves putting every activity into your calendar, to make sure you can fit it all in. Add your workout to your calendar, give it a space in your day, and the friction of deciding when to work out is removed.

Eric Murray rows on a rowing machine, although the image is cropped so his face is not visible

How can asensei help you stick to a workout routine?

Needless to say, the asensei app is designed to remove friction and encourage you to work out. Even on a basic level, asensei is built for home workouts, reducing the friction of having to commute to the gym. Beyond that, asensei is built on a highly effective framework of structure, accountability, and progression — optimised to help you stick to your workout routine and achieve your goals.

Structure. With asensei, you’ll never have to program your indoor rowing machine again, meaning there’s less friction to starting your workout. It’s the easiest way to set up your environment to support your goal! asensei rowing offers specific training plans: every time you open the app, there’s a workout waiting, pre-downloaded, so you never have to go through the friction of choosing a workout. For those who want more information, there are planner documents, but there’s no need to consult them to get going!

Similarly, asensei even takes the need to choose a soundtrack to your workout off your hands. Our partnership with feed.fm has the removal of friction in mind. Steven Webster, CEO, sees it as the perfect combination: 'People tell us all the time that they really appreciate that they don't have to think about using our rowing program, they just have to show up. I think feed.fm creates a similar experience when it comes to music.'

Accountability. asensei tracks your workout, meaning you can trace your progress, and share data with other users to keep yourself accountable. You can also add it to your Concept 2 Logbook, Strava, and Apple Health, with no more manual workout logging! If it’s the admin that causes friction, asensei has you covered.

Progression. asensei sets you personalized, challenging goals, and develops your skills, keeping you motivated with varied workouts, programs with aims to work towards, and having a plan ready-made for you — the difficult decisions are taken out of your hands.


What is your biggest source of friction? How are you making sure you stick to your workout routine this year?

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