How To Get Back To Working Out After A Break
Updated: Aug 28
Here's a simple truth – you can't always be in the best shape of your life. Your fitness level at any given time can be influenced or impacted by other things going on in your life. With so many other responsibilities like your job and family on your plate, you might find that working out falls to the back burner. Or maybe you're recovering from an injury that put you on the sidelines.
You might be surprised to know that you can start to lose muscle strength in just two or three weeks if you stop working out and your cardio fitness can begin to disappear in just two weeks, so if it's been a while since you put your workout goals first, and you're ready to get back into a fitness routine after taking some time off (intentional or unplanned!), you'll want to make the transition as smooth as possible. These tips can help you ease your way back into the groove if you start working out after a break.
Restart Your Routine Slowly When Working Out Again After a Break
Just like when you started working out before your hiatus, you'll want to handle your re-entry into a fitness routine slowly and steadily. You shouldn't expect that you can pick-up right where you left off, even if (and especially if!) you were a high performance athlete. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends starting out with 20 - 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity 3 to 5 days per week.
Starting your workout routine with a lower intensity will help you retrain your body and increase your endurance while preventing an injury that will extend your break from exercise. There are three types of exercises you'll want to build into your workout plan as you're getting back into the swing of things:
Flexibility and Mobility exercises – Adding a couple days of flexibility and mobility workouts into your routine will help increase your blood flow and circulation while helping improve your range of motion and joint mobility which will decrease your chance of injury. Some great flexibility and mobility exercises to try are reverse lunges with a side bend, lateral lunges to a plank walkout, single leg deadlift to knee drive, and squat to forward fold.
Easy Cardio – Whether you like to do your cardio workouts outdoors or inside on a treadmill, bike, or rower, it's an important component of your workout routine. Getting your cardiovascular fitness back up to your pre-break levels will make it easier to keep up your routine and help your reach your fitness goals.
Strength Training – After a couple weeks of incorporating flexibility and mobility exercises and cardio into your routine, it's time to add in some strength training. During your hiatus, it's possible to have developed weakness in your posterior chain, which is the muscle group that are integral to everyday movement. Building the strength of these muscles back up is important for good posture, core strength, and muscle strength. There are plenty of strength training exercises you can add to your workout routine, including squats, lunges, box jumps, weight-training, and TRX.
Treat Yourself Well
As you're ramping back up and your muscles are feeling pretty sore after your workouts, you might start to feel discouraged. Don't. Listen to athletic trainer Jason Cruickshank who says, "Think of the time and work it took to get to your previous fitness level. You're not being fair to yourself if you think you'll jump back in at the same spot."
That means being patient with yourself as you're working toward your fitness goals. It also means giving your body recovery time after your workouts, getting enough quality sleep, and fueling your body properly. Good nutrition for exercise is as important to your fitness plan as the types of exercise you're doing. Eating foods that fuel your workouts and reducing consumption of foods that don't will go a long way toward helping you stay on track with your workouts.
Find Friends To Keep You On Track
Adding a social component to your fitness routine is a great way to keep it fun while keeping yourself accountable. When you're committing to workout with a friend, it's more difficult to ditch your workout if you just aren't feeling it because you'll be letting down your workout buddy.
Another big plus of having a workout buddy? Studies show you'll get the benefit of improved performance and more time spent working out. Working out with a partner has been shown to double the time spent exercising compared to working out on your own.
There's something else you'll want to keep in mind as you get back into your workout routine after a break. If your lifestyle has changed from what it was before you took your break, your fitness plan may need to as well. The biggest factor for your sticking to a routine is making sure if fits in your life. If you were spending hours training for a race back in the day, and now you have professional or family obligations that don't give you hours of time to train, it's going to be very difficult to take up the same plan you used to have.
Get Help From a Certified Personal Trainer
You might wonder if hiring a personal trainer is worth the money, and if you're just getting back into a workout routine, the answer is absolutely! There are a few major ways working with a personal trainer can help you toward your fitness goals.
Motivation & Accountability – According to the International Journal of Exercise Science, working with a personal trainer can motivate you much better than working out on your own. Plus, when you schedule time with a personal trainer, you're more likely to keep your commitment, not only because you're taking their time and resources, but also because you want to get your money's worth. And finally, a personal trainer will push you to improve and track your progress, keeping you motivated to reach your goals and accountable to making improvements to your fitness levels.
Variety – When your workout routine feels stale or boring, sticking with it can be difficult. Partnering with a personal trainer will keep your fitness plan fresh and interesting. A trainer will work with you to assess your current fitness levels and build a workout routine that incorporates various types of exercises that keep your workout fresh and interesting.
Reduce Risk of Injury – An important part of your workout routine is making sure you're taking things at the right pace and have the right form. When you're coming back from a break, you want to reduce your risk of injury by easing into your workout plan. A trainer will design a plan for you that is personalized to your fitness levels so you don't take on too much, too soon. A certified personal trainer will also ensure you have the right form which gos a long way toward injury prevention.
Restart Your Workout In Arlington, Ma.
If you're ready to get back into a workout routine or want to work with a certified personal trainer to get restarted, we're here to help! Contact Inspire Fitness Studio today to learn more about our private in-person and small group personal training program in Arlington MA!
About the author:
Joe Rindone, NCPT is a certified personal trainer and the Founder of Inspire Fitness Studio in Arlington, MA. Joe's passion for fitness has motivated him to become one Greater Boston's best personal trainers. An athlete throughout high school and college, Joe has always enjoyed being active. Currently he enjoys road races, working with his boxing coach, kettlebell training and getting out for a round of golf in his spare time.