Sometimes, taking a break from your fitness regime is necessary. Perhaps you’ve had an injury, overtrained, gone on holiday or you became just a little bit lazy during the Christmas break… Whatever the reason, making the decision to return to exercise after some time away is a good move for your health and well-being.
However, you’ll probably notice that your fitness isn’t what it was or that your former routine is a bit of a struggle – something that’s completely normal after a break. It’s important that you stick at it though to help you regain your fitness and achieve your goals.
Help work yourself back to fitness with the following tips.
Make sure you’re injury-free
Trying to work out when you’re still recovering from an injury is only going to end in misery. If your body is still healing, you should check with your doctor to see which forms of exercise are ok and what should be avoided. You might be able to start off with gentler, low-impact forms of exercise such as swimming, running or yoga to help you gain some mobility and work your body at a sensible pace.
You should also consider some additional support when you first start working out. Wrist, knee and ankle supports can help to prevent injury while you bring back the strength to those areas. You can also invest in products that will help deal with pain and discomfort like a topical treatment gel for joint pain. If you feel any pain during your workout or something doesn’t feel right, stop what you’re doing and seek medical advice.
Ease yourself in
If your old routine involved training five times a week or you used to cover a 10-mile run during a cardio session, taking it easy can feel a bit alien. However, following a break from working out, your body isn’t as fit as it was and doing too much, too soon, could lead to an injury, or the post-workout burn could put you off exercise altogether.
A good tip for easing yourself back in is to forget about everything you used to do and create a whole new routine. Start with a beginner’s workout routine that will help you practice your form and build up your workouts gradually. Try training a couple of times a week before you build yourself back up to daily workouts.
Vary your workouts
Getting bored of your fitness routine is an easy way to find yourself giving up, and could be the reason why you stopped in the first place. Variety will keep your workouts interesting and stop you from giving up. You don’t even have to go to the gym to get fit, there are plenty of ways to exercise without setting foot in a gym!
If your workout routine typically involves a weights session at the gym or some time spent doing the same old cardio, why not mix it up with some classes? There are benefits to fitness classes you might not be aware of, and the social element of a class can help give you the motivation you need to keep it up. Not only that, but a fitness class is designed by someone else, so you won’t have to worry about coming up with your own exercises or even think about what you’re doing too much. Give circuits or a boxercise class a try – you’ll be surprised at how much of a full-body workout you’ll get from a fitness class.
Embrace HIIT workouts
One way to boost your fitness quickly is to do HIIT workouts. Ideal for those who hate exercising for long periods, a HIIT can be over in 20 minutes, and your fitness will improve a lot. Choose HIIT workouts that target different areas of your body and include a variety of strength and cardio moves. You can find HIIT workout videos for free on YouTube or you can look at creating your own HIIT workout that suits your specific goals and needs.
Remember that HIITs are designed to be intense, so start off slowly and build yourself up – you don’t want to start a Tabata-style workout on day 1!
Don’t forget to stretch
Warming up properly is an effective way to prepare your body for a workout and will help to prevent injury. There are warm-up routines suitable for all workout types, which should be followed by a cool down at the end of your session.
Adding in some stretching sessions to your workout routine will help improve your movement, your flexibility and relieve muscle soreness that can make regular training painful. You can do a foam roller session at the end of your workout, or you can try a yoga or Pilates class to push yourself a little further.
Focus on the right nutrition
Nutrition is an important part of getting fit. You need to be able to fuel your body to help your muscles repair themselves and grow, as well as make sure you have enough energy to work out.
Creating a meal plan can help give your diet from structure as well as ensure you’re giving your body what it needs. When starting your training plan, think about your diet too in order to maximise your efforts and see results quicker than you would if you were just exercising alone.
Track your progress
A lack of motivation can soon see you giving up exercise again. Monitoring your progress is one way to stay motivated with your fitness routine and helps you to stay on track with your goals. A fitness tracker that measures your heart rate can help you see how fit you’re getting, while taking some progress photos can show you results that you won’t see on the scales. Remember that making progress takes time, and you shouldn’t feel disheartened if seeing results takes time. You could even start a blog to share your experience, or dedicate your Instagram feed to your fitness journey. Having something to spur you on will make it easier to push through, even on days where you want to give up.
Whatever your fitness goals, returning to exercise should be seen as a positive step after taking a break. It could be a long road back to fitness, but what you’re doing is a step towards a healthy lifestyle. Restart your fitness regime by easing yourself in an not being too hard on yourself. The results will come, you just need to stick at it!