How To Wade Back Into Workouts After An Extended Fitness Break

You used to live and breathe working out. Going to the gym was like walking into a friend's house. But gradually, certain things kept getting in the way. Maybe you had family obligations that made finding time to exercise impossible. It could have been an injury that left you couch-bound for a bit. Whatever the case, you're ready to get back into it. 

The good news is you've already taken the first step: Deciding to get active again. Congrats! Now, it's time to find a few, reasonable ways to make sure your transition back into a healthy, active lifestyle is a successful one. Remember, getting back into your fitness routine after an extended break isn't like jumping on a bike and riding off into the sunset. 

According to a 2015 study, published in the National Library of Medicine, muscle strength is lost relatively quickly after a fitness break. Additionally, even after six weeks of aerobic training, the active muscles weren't completely rehabilitated. So, you can't just pick up where you left off when it comes to working out. You need to think of it less as re-starting and more as starting afresh. Try out these tips to make sure you succeed. 

Find an exercise routine that works for you

Everyone has a reason they stopped exercising in the first place. When getting back into working out, it can be beneficial to figure out what it was. Was it an injury? Did your workouts get boring? Did your schedule change so you stopped having any time for the gym? Identifying the cause is key to finding a new routine that works for you and helps you get back into regular training and, crucially, stick with it too. 

Once you've figured out why you stopped working out, the next step is to reassess your fitness goals. If you're looking to build muscle and get stronger, a strength training routine might be the best course of action. However, Hopkins Medicine clarifies that aerobic activities can be more beneficial for enhancing your endurance and cardiovascular health, so keep this in mind too. If you're unsure where to start, discussing your fitness goals with your physician is the best option. 

Once you've got your goal in mind, it's time to create a program. Just remember, it's important to vary it regularly, per the Mayo Clinic. Implementing some cross-training or high-intensity intervals ensures you're working different muscle groups and keeping boredom at bay. Consider adding walking, running, or swimming into your workout plan too. Getting a change of scenery by hiking or mountain biking is also a great alternative with major mental health benefits. 

Start easing yourself back into working out

A month ago, you might have been maxing out your reps or running on the treadmill for an hour. But your body isn't going to be ready for that quite yet. Getting back into a workout routine takes time and patience. So, do your body a favor and start slow with plenty of time set aside for rest and recovery. You don't want to start off too intense and end up with a painful injury as a result.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity with an additional two days of muscle-strengthening activity every week. You can start out using this as your guide. Use a low-intensity (LISS) workout to dip your feet back into the fitness waters and slowly begin to build your endurance over time until you're ready to smash it out again. 

The intensity you can handle will vary based on your individual fitness level, so it's important to always listen to your body's cues. If you find that you're getting winded in the first five minutes of the workout, you might want to take it down a notch and take it easier instead. Focus on the small improvements that you make each day to help you stick with it, and don't give up. Before you know it, you'll be in beast mode again.