DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF
It’s easy to compare yourself to when you were training more regularly. If you’ve not been to the gym in months, it’s reasonable to see a decline in strength or endurance.
It’s vital to stay positive – you will improve and get back to where you left off.
Try these beginner exercises to get back into gym mode. Or follow this routine:
20 minutes of strength training and toning – start your routine with strength training, isolating certain muscle groups. Use free-weights, machines or your bodyweight.
30 minutes of cardio – get your heart-rate up with some simple cardio exercises, whether you’re using a treadmill, bike, elliptical or cross-trainer.
10 minutes of stretching and warming down – stretch off and loosen your muscles because if you’ve missed the gym for a while, you’ll feel those aches and pains.
PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Prepare your workout gear the night before. If you wake up and see your trainers, hoodie, snack and water bottle all ready to go, you’ll feel like you’re too invested to change your mind.
Rather than planning how many sessions a week you are going to do ‘this time’, aim to go once. Get everything ready the night before. If all you need to do is pick up a gym bag and walk out of the house, you’re more likely to go. Even if you're working out from home, having your workout clothes laid out the night before can help you motivate yourself in the morning.
TEN MINUTES IS GOOD ENOUGH
It might feel daunting starting the gym again, but stay positive and manage your expectations. You might not feel your usual self, but don’t let this stop you from working out.
By doing a little exercise, even if it’s a 10-minute walk, you’re improving yourself.
If you don’t go and stop exercising, it’ll be easier to skip future workouts.
Getting back into the gym after a break isn’t impossible, but it will take hard work and dedication. Feel free to reach out to me if you need extra support getting started. Good luck!
Get Back to Your Exercise Routine After Taking a Long Break With These Tips
1. Don’t expect to be at the same level you were before
Unfortunately, regardless of whether you are a runner, weightlifter, or one of those cross-fitters, taking time off from exercise means that you will lose some of your abilities. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be on the same level or surpass it. It just means that you may start at a lower weight or longer running time than before your break. This is completely normal.
Let’s take someone who lifts weights as an example. After 1–2 weeks, you may not really see or feel much of a difference. 2–3 weeks without the gym may see you lose some lean muscle mass. You might start losing actual muscle around the 4-week mark and more. Even after a year you may still have half of the strength you originally gained. Some other things stick around even longer. The extra capillaries you’ve grown to supply blood to your muscles are still there after a year. Your heart will still be strong, and your lungs will still have a greater capacity than before you started training.
The good news is that you’ll also regain your strength quicker than it took for you to reach that weight in the first place thanks to a little something called muscle memory. Which leads us to our next point.
2. Be patient
We understand that it can be difficult knowing that you’re not lifting as heavy, or running as fast or long as you could but you need to be patient. Work with the strength or energy you have now, and trust that as long as you are consistent and continue to workout, you will return to normal within a few weeks.
Don’t try to push yourself from the get-go as this will only increase your risk of injury. And if you get injured, then you’ll find yourself spending more time of the gym.
3. Don’t do too much
Don’t try to do all the exercises at once. Stick to a few to ease yourself back into it and give your body time to adjust to the change. Then you can gradually go back to your normal routine over time.
4. Remember you’ll probably be sore
Contrary to popular belief, feeling sore isn’t a good indicator of whether you’ve had a good workout or not. If you’re feeling sore, it’s probably because you’re doing a new exercise or you haven’t trained in a while. So if you’re getting back to the gym after a long break, you’ll most likely be feeling it the next day.
The good news? The soreness won’t last forever. Once you get back into a routine, you will find yourself being able to workout without feeling the burn afterwards.
To help recover faster, make sure that you properly warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards. Stretch in every session and employ other tools to help such as foam rolling.
5. Get a trainer/instructor
If you want the extra help, then investing in a workout app or personal trainer can really do the trick. Also, there are SO many videos on YouTube that you can find something you like regardless of your current fitness level. And of course, you can always contact me to help plan a program just for you. Just saying. LOL
A personal trainer at your local gym can also be really helpful. He or she can create a workout plan for you based on your goals, and show you how the machines work around the facility. Unfortunately, personal training can be on the pricey side at times, but sometimes there may be great offers like group fitness training (Did I mention I do group fitness training AND online virtual training?).
NOTE: I will be offering virtual fitness classes as well as private and one on one fitness trainings by Memorial Day.
If you are recovering from an injury though, we recommend that you do enlist the help of a trainer or coach that is certified to help with your specific condition. This is so that modifications can be made for your rehab process. This is vital so that you don’t undo all the progress you’ve made in recovery and make it worse.
If you've been hibernating all winter (or, let's face it, all of this past pandemic year), the thought of figuring out how to start working out again can seem a bit daunting. And while there's no way around it—when you're not in the habit of working out, you lose progress—don't be deterred from sweating it out. Challenges can be a good thing!
Doing too much too soon can overwhelm you mentally, And a rigorous routine may eventually feel like too much to deal with, which in return makes you feel defeated. Understand that you're probably not going to be as fit as you were, and that's OK. You can start with just 10 minutes a day; the goal is just to get moving more. Seriously.
As you plan out how to start working out again, think about your habits, goals, and schedule and go from there. It can also help to think of ways to motivate yourself. Connecting with a workout buddy (either in person or virtually)is a great way to stay consistent and be motivated. "Find a friend who is already working out and has a routine. That person can be a key motivator. Or, if you'd rather share the starting line, find a friend who is also looking to get back into a regular routine.
In addition, when beginning a workout routine (or starting one after a long hiatus), it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to get the all-clear before you begin.
On a fun note, if it’s been awhile since you exercised regularly you’ll probably want to invest in a few key pieces to make your workout comfortable and enjoyable. That can mean a pair of running sneakers that feel good on your feet, or a sports bra that actually supports you in a HIIT workout. As you progress, don't forget to consider resistance bands or dumbbells to add a little more oomph to your strength training.
This can be the hardest part for most people. When it comes to figuring out a workout routine, begin with what works for you. If you only feel comfortable committing to one day a week initially? Then do that and stick with it. You don't have to start back at 5-6 days a week. Gradually work your way up to 2 then 3 days a week. Just be sure to increase at a pace that you can do consistently. Results will come a lot faster if you can keep a regular pattern and frequency.
Beginner Exercises to Know
It’s also always a good idea to make sure you have the basics down before easing back into a regular workout routine. Basic strength training exercises like squats, lunges, and planks show up in many variations in many different types of workouts, so you’ll want to ensure you have a good foundation before jumping right in. If you’re looking for a full routine that keeps your current level/condition in mind, please message/email me to put together a plan just for you.
No matter what workout you choose, be sure to spend a few minutes stretching before and after your workout. Stretching is especially important when you're getting back into a fitness routine. A good warm-up includes dynamic stretches, and when you are done working out, finish with some more cooldown stretches—like these.
Active vs Passive Rest Days
Remember, recovery is part of being active. When you take a day off, your body isn't. It's actually working very hard to repair and replenish itself after all the work you put it through.
Be sure to schedule rest days into your routine. Whether they are active rest days (still a little active but not strenuous. Try a leisurely walk, a little light stretching, or a day on the lake paddle-boarding) or a passive rest day, like when you don’t leave your couch and binge watch your favorite streaming service. Both are entirely acceptable (and needed!). Active rest days help your body recover by increasing blood flow and aiding in muscle repair. Passive rest days are important for when you truly need to rest. Be sure to listen to your body when deciding what type of rest day is right for you.
Remember, proper warm-up and cooldown are VERY important for your workouts. This will aid in injury prevention, and can also help with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
A good warm-up preps your body for the increase in activity and a cool-down allows your heart rate to return to a normal resting rate. DOMS are likely to happen with muscles that have not been accustomed to strenuous activity for sometime. So expect to be a little tight and achy for 24-72 hours after your workout. You may also experience this if you are working out regularly and then increase your intensity. This is why a proper cool-down session is necessary and can help reduce some of this soreness.
Another safety tip to keep in mind is form. It’s important that you take it slow and focus on how you’re performing movements. Be deliberate and conscious of your movements. Take the time to focus on your form, on your breathing, and on your control. Technique and form are are crucial for helping you avoid injury.
Whether you’ve been in complete lockdown mode in your home and barely moving during quarantine (other than trips to the fridge), OR you’ve simply just fallen out of your usual exercise routine there's no better time to get back into a fitness groove. Remember that after several weeks or even months of not hitting the gym or your usual training regimen, you’re going to need to return to working out gradually and safely if you want to avoid hurting yourself.
Don't miss our next blog:
Summer's Almost Here So Let's Get Busy (tips for summer weight loss)
Be sure to subscribe below so you don't miss out on our upcoming posts.