By T.J. Colquitt
So, you’ve taken a hiatus from the gym, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get back into the swing of things.
Establishing a workout routine again can feel overwhelming when you haven’t done it in a while. Not only is this a goal that you can definitely accomplish, but it’s also one that has the ability to make you look and feel so much better.
If you’re ready to tone up, build muscle, and get your cardio on, try these tips to help you get back into regularly working out and improving your health.
1. Take It Easy
Instead of trying to jump right back in where you left off, ease yourself into it. Not only can taking on too much overwhelm you mentally, but it could also cause you to injure yourself physically. Introduce your body to activities slowly. Tackle shorter 10-minute workouts or try out some low-intensity exercises.
You could even take the first week to do some simple stretches every day or participate in some low-intensity yoga classes, just so you can get your body used to moving again. After a week or two, challenge yourself by trying more intensive exercises.
Additionally, focus on quality over quantity in your workouts. Even if you have to move a little slower, make sure that you’re using the proper techniques to create deliberate movements. This helps you avoid injury and actually accomplish what you’re hoping to.
2. Create a Plan With Small, Actionable Goals
One of the best ways to make sure that you stick to your workout routine is to create a plan that outlines specific days for certain activities. For example, maybe you focus on lower-body exercises on Tuesdays. Create a plan before you start each workout, like what exercises you plan to do for how many reps.
Aside from creating a plan of attack, you should outline goals that are:
These are also known as SMART goals, and they are so important when you’re challenging yourself in any area because they give you focus and a reason to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it. Whether your goal is to lose 15 pounds or run a 5k, create some objectives and benchmarks to measure your progress toward them.
3. Take Advantage of Rest Days
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking a day off is imperative for your body’s overall wellness. Even though you’re not working out, your body is working hard to replenish and repair itself. Besides, you are trying to create a lifestyle and long-term habit, so it’s important that you set realistic expectations for yourself.
4. Learn the Importance of Warming Up and Cooling Down
Warming up prepares your body for the activity it’s about to take part in. The best way to do this is usually through a bit of cardio . Try taking a walk or doing some dynamic stretches, like deep lunges or yoga, to get your heart beating.
The cool-down is just as, if not more, important as the warm-up, especially when your muscles are still adjusting to strenuous activity. After you work muscles for the first time in a while or up your regular intensity, you can experience delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, meaning that your muscles feel tight and achy for a few days after. By properly stretching and cooling down after you exercise, you minimize some of your soreness and reduce the amount of time your body needs to recover.
5. Mix Things Up
Try to keep things interesting by experimenting with new workouts. By doing exercises that you haven’t done before, you are less likely to compare your current and past performance, which can sometimes lead to feelings of discouragement. By trying something new, you can find fresh motivation and discover fun ways to get your body moving.
Regardless of the moves you choose to get back in shape, just make sure that you’re incorporating three key components into your workout routine: flexibility, resistance training and cardiovascular endurance.
6. Find a Support Group
If you’re having trouble finding motivation on your own, it can be really helpful to find a friend or group of friends to help keep you accountable. Whether your workout buddy has an established exercise regimen or they are just getting started like you, having someone to share your struggles and accomplishments with goes a long way. It’s especially helpful if you both have some of the same goals and interests.
7. Understand Why You Quit in the First Place
In order to create fitness habits that last you a lifetime, you need to examine what caused you to step away in the first place (assuming that your gym suspended operations on an emergency basis isn’t it). In some cases, people stop exercising because they are unhappy with their current gym , while others are derailed because they just get burned out.
Whatever the reason was, once you pinpoint it, you can find ways to prevent it from ever happening again. If you were burned out or bored, mix up your routine with group classes or a new exercise. If you lose sight of your goals , create a goal tracker to keep you accountable.
8. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Exercise requires a lot of your body, including more energy and time. When you first start working out again, you may experience more fatigue because your body is trying to adjust to the increased amount of stress and calories it’s burning. Listen to your body, and get the rest it’s telling you that you need. That may mean that you need to snuggle under the covers for a little longer, and that is totally okay.
Whether you’re trying to get back into shape to get a six-pack or lose weight, your journey is your own. Remember to give yourself some grace, and take it one day at a time.