Man performing a leaning biceps curl.

How to Get Back into a Workout Routine After a Fitness Break

It’s been a long, hard, and weird year, so you can be forgiven if your fitness routine has fallen by the wayside. However, if you are ready to recommit to fitness, then there’s never been a better time to get started than right now. Getting back into a workout routine can feel intimidating, especially if you want to resume the same level of fitness you were at before your break.

Instead, if you want to know how to start working out again, follow these eight helpful steps.

1.Establish New Fitness Goals

One of the best ways to reignite your motivation to work out is establishing a fitness goal. This will give you something to work toward and make it easier to monitor your progress. Don’t just choose the same fitness goal you’ve had in the past. Instead, create a new one that’s realistic for where you are right now. Can’t get to the gym? Create a goal you can achieve by performing at-home workouts. Not sure you have enough time for an aggressive goal? Choose a goal that you can fit into your life right now. You can always set more challenging goals in the future.

Pro tip: Turn your goal into a SMART goal by making it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

2.Turn Your Workout Routine into a Habit

This past year has thrown many people off their routines, making it difficult to stick to positive habits. Use the power of habits to establish a new routine that incorporates regular fitness. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Susan Weinschenk explains that habits are more likely to stick if:

  • They are small and specific actions
  • They are easy to do
  • They involve physical movement
  • They include auditory or visual cues

Think of how to get back into working out using these tips. One idea is to work out on the same days each week and at the same time. Start with a simple dynamic warm up. It is specific, easy to do, and involves physical movement. To add auditory cues, turn on your favorite playlist.

3.Start Slow

Don’t expect that you’ll be as fast, strong, and fit as you were before your fitness break. In fact, if you try to do your old workouts at the same intensity, you may quickly burn out or even invite injuries. Instead, be gentle with yourself and start slow.

How to start exercising again begins with short, simple routines. Reduce the time, speed, and intensity you’re used to. Forget about your old personal records and focus on the joy of moving and challenging your body at your current level.

Focus on re-learning good form with every rep. Quality always beats quantity, and by building your workout routine with the right foundation, you’ll quickly be able to recover your fitness.

4.Try a New Form of Exercise

Restarting your fitness routine is a great opportunity to experiment with and incorporate different exercise modalities. For example, if you’ve only ever used the treadmill, why not try an elliptical trainer, a stationary bike, or even a rowing machine? If you are interested in getting back into the gym, you could even jump in the pool and swim laps.

Likewise, mix up your workout routine by adding in resistance training. Try different bodyweight movements, use unique machines in the gym, or pick up some free weights.

Writing for ACE Fitness, Cedric X. Bryant explains that varying your exercise routine can help prevent boredom, helps you avoid hitting a fitness plateau, and can help you stick to your fitness routine.

One great way to mix up your fitness routine is to try group fitness classes at your gym. Most gyms, including EōS Fitness, offer a variety of great cardio, strength training, and mobility classes.

5.Take Rest Days

When you begin a fitness routine after a long break, you’ll need to give your body plenty of time to rest and recuperate from the new workload. Rest is a critical component of recovering from exercise and for seeing the best results from all your hard work. Another writer for ACE Fitness, Pete McCall, explains, “While the body experiences metabolic or mechanical stress during exercise, it’s during the recovery period after the exercise that the body repairs the muscle proteins and replaces the glycogen (stored glucose in liver and muscle tissue) used to fuel the workout.”

Give yourself lots of rest, especially when you first begin exercising again, to help ease your body into a workout routine. That means taking time off between workouts, fueling up on nutritious food, and getting plenty of sleep each night.

6.Work Out with a Partner

It can be difficult to stay motivated after the initial enthusiasm to exercise begins to wane. One way to hold yourself accountable and make the exercise experience more fun is to recruit a workout buddy. Live Science highlights a study from the University of Southern California where participants who worked out with friends described a more enjoyable exercise experience. A study from Kansas State University found that people who exercised with fitter partners worked out up to 200% harder and longer than those without a fitness partner.

These results make intuitive sense. Working out with a friend or family member can help the time go by more quickly. Plus, it can spur your naturally competitive nature. If your friend jogs a little faster than you, you’ll be more likely to kick up your speed to keep up.

Pro-tip: Working out at home? Invite your friends or family members to participate in a virtual workout. No matter where your workout buddy lives, you can still sweat it out together.

7.Measure Your Progress

Sticking with your new fitness routine will be a whole lot easier if you are able to see your progress as you put in the hard work each week. When you begin your new workout routine, consider performing a few basic physical measurements. You may also want to perform a “benchmark workout” that you can come back to again in a month or two to see how you compare.

In the NIFS Healthy Living Blog, Amanda Bireline explains that tracking your fitness:

  • Makes it more likely you’ll reach your goal
  • Allows you to be more efficient with your workouts
  • Gives you more accountability
  • Helps reinforce your goals
  • Allows you to continually adapt your programming

These days, it’s easier than ever to measure your progress. The fitness industry is filled with apps and devices that can track your eating, measure your heart rate, and even tell you if you got a good night’s sleep. Many gyms can also perform measurements so you can easily chart your progress.

8.Get Expert Help

Still not sure how to start working out again? Don’t just guess. If you are ready to get back into the gym, consider investing in a personal trainer. A certified personal trainer will help you define your goals and determine your current state of fitness. They can then develop a workout routine customized to your goals. If you are coming back from an injury or you are struggling to find the time to work out, a trainer can work within your boundaries, help you speed up your progress, and keep you accountable.

No Time Like the Present

If you’re wondering how to start exercising again, the real answer is to just start. Outline your goals, build a routine, and begin slowly. Find workouts that excite, challenge, and motivate you and make sure you get plenty of rest. If you find yourself struggling, recruit a fitness partner, track your progress, or hire a personal trainer. No matter how long it’s been since you last broke a sweat or hit the gym, you can always begin again. Start moving and don’t look back.

For more advice on how to create and stick with a workout routine, keep reading the EōS Fitness blog.

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