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HEALTHY HACKS: Habit-Stacking Tips That Will Revolutionise Your Fitness Journey

athletic woman using blender and preparing smoothie in the kitchen.

In a world where busy schedules are the norm, it can be a big task to find time to carve out for the gym or a workout. 

Enter habit stacking, the trending productivity strategy with 66.5 million TikTok views that allows you to ‘stack’ a new habit on top of an existing one. 

Do you struggle to find time to go to the gym after work? Or do you find it hard to motivate yourself to do that morning workout? The PTs at OriGym have detailed how habit stacking can help you with your fitness goals and overall productivity.  

What is habit stacking? 

Every person has formed simple habits they perform each day without even realising, this could be making a cup of coffee, brushing your teeth and putting your shoes on.

Habit stacking is the act of creating more meaningful habits around basic habits that require little to no effort. The technique involves incorporating simple, everyday tasks into productive activities for maximum productivity. 

For example:

– Cleaning the bathroom for ten minutes after brushing your teeth each morning 

This method capitalises on easy-to-execute tasks and generates momentum helping you to complete more demanding activities.

One Reddit user has completely transformed their morning routine because they now practise habit stacking, previously their routine included brushing their teeth and drinking a cup of coffee. 

However, their morning routine now includes: 

– Putting on sunscreen, meditating, journaling and going for a short walk with an audiobook or podcast. 

This person has stacked the habits that are second nature with new ones they’d like to implement into their daily routine. 

How to achieve your long-term goals with habit stacking

Starting small and ensuring you stay consistent is the key to creating beneficial habit stacks that will stick. 

For example, if you already make a coffee every morning and you’d like to incorporate walking into your daily routine as the kettle is boiling, put your trainers on.

Once your trainers are on you are one step closer to achieving that goal of going for a walk, and by building up the momentum you are more likely to perform this task rather than relying on willpower alone. 

Here is a simple habit-stacking template that can be used to save time in the morning and evening and get you started on your habit-stacking journey.

When I get up in the morning I will immediately make my bed.When I walk through the door I will immediately take off my coat and put my belongings away.
After I’ve made my bed I will immediately brush my teeth.When I’ve put my belongings away I will immediately prepare my dinner. 
After I’ve brushed my teeth I will immediately get dressed.When my dinner is prepared I will immediately wipe the kitchen surface.
After I’ve got dressed I will immediately make a coffee.When I have wiped the kitchen surface I will immediately sit down to eat my dinner.
While my coffee is brewing I will put on my walking shoes / trainers. When I have eaten my dinner I will immediately clean the cutlery and plates I have used.
Once I have made my coffee I will put in a travel mug and head out for a walk.When I have cleaned I will immediately get out my clothes and walking shoes for the next day.

When we habitually stack daily tasks like cooking, cleaning and getting ready in the morning we get things done more efficiently, leaving more time to indulge in leisure activities such as exercise. 

Habit shaping: Take your life to the next level by shaping your habits to achieve your goals

Once you start habit stacking you can implement other productivity hacks like habit shaping into your day-to-day life. 

Habit shaping is the act of creating a long-term goal and achieving that goal through habit formation.

Hitting a weekly exercise goal, eating a balanced diet and reducing screen time can mean an overwhelming lifestyle change, but simple habit-shaping methods can make this goal more achievable in the long run. 

The fundamental way to ensure habit shaping works for you is to start with a big end goal in mind and then list all the small milestones you need to hit to achieve that goal. This way the goal is easier to attain and the thrill of hitting small milestones every week will keep you motivated and likely to continue. 

Here is an extreme example of a  five-week habit-shaping cycle that could be game-changing for fitness, nutrition and productivity once achieved. 

HabitImplement exercise into your weekly routineEat a balanced diet to fuel your bodyMinimise phone screentime 
Week 1Find an exercise you enjoy doing, for example, walking.Make a list of 5 healthier snacks you enjoy eating.Calculate your daily screen time and subtract one hour.
Week 2Rise ten minutes earlier and take a 10-minute walk outside every day.Swap your junk food snacks for healthier alternatives.Have one ‘phone-free’ morning per week.
Week 3Incorporate daily 20 minute walks into your weekend routines.Prepare one nutrient-rich healthy meal per week.When working ensure your phone isn’t at arm’s length to distract you. 
Week 4Increase your daily morning walk to 20 minutes.Increase this to three nutrient-rich healthy meals per week.When winding down in the evening, place your phone in another room.
Week 5Increase your weekend walks to 45 minutes on Saturday and Sunday.Eat a balanced healthy diet 90% of the time and enjoy more calorie-dense foods in moderation. Incorporate daily 20-minute walks into your weekend routines.

Luke Hughes, Level 4 Personal Trainer and Managing Director at OriGym said: “Habit stacking and efficient routine changes are a simple way to make sure we’re hitting our goals and living healthily and productively. 

“You don’t have to do gruelling workouts every day to change your physique – if you find it difficult to find time to go to the gym, pressuring yourself to do too much will not be sustainable. 

“Utilising habit stacking in your fitness journey will allow you to hold yourself accountable in a way that’s right for you and it’s something you can adapt over time. increasing your time working out with habit shaping “ 

“It’s the small consistent changes that make the biggest impact.”