by Max Seabrook
We’ve all been there at some stage! Whether it’s from an injury, workload or other responsibilities, sometimes our workouts get put on hold. Sometimes it can last just a few days and it’s no big deal. Other times these pauses for whatever reasons can last for months or years as we undo the healthy habit of regular exercise. I’ve had a fair bit of experience with this over the last 5 years with university and injuries trying to get in the way of my training! So I thought I’d share some of my tips for getting back into the swing of things as smoothly as possible!
First of all, with getting back into training there’s generally two ways to go about this. Either jump in at the deep-end and go all-out with your training like nothing ever stopped or ease into your training slowly increasing the intensity. I used to be a huge fan of the former and it certainly can work out well if you’re willing to just brute-force it. However, I’m finding a lot of success with both clients and myself when starting much slower and building from there. This slower and mostly pain-free method is what I want to talk about in this article.
- Make a Schedule!
Firstly, make sure you plan out exactly which days and what time you’ll be working out. Starting up exercising again won’t just magically happen. Vague ideas of when a workout will happen like “this week” will not ensure anything happens. So be as specific as possible with your schedule and write it into your calendar or set reminders on your phone.
- Start with something enjoyable
One of the major downfalls of the “brute-force” method is that it hurts a LOT and that can take out some of the “fun” we are supposed to be having when we exercise. Sure, when we are in the swing of things the workouts are always fun but we need the habit first! And that habit is easier to build when we start with something fun. So choose whatever you most enjoy doing, running, biking, sports, dancing, yoga, dvd/youtube workouts, upper body weights etc. etc. Whatever you are mostly likely to actually do!
- Shorter workouts / Lower intensity
It is very important that we don’t start where we left off. Even with the most advanced lifters, resuming training after a time of 1 month off should be approached with caution! Jumping into the same weights and workouts that we were doing when previously at best can discourage us and at worst it can injure us. So start off lighter with what you know you can handle. Even if it is 5 minutes jogging or 2 sets of each exercise from your previous routine. The idea with these first sessions is to be going through the motions of the workout and establishing that routine again.
Now that we’re doing something fun and doable it’s time to start adding in the progressions! For the first few weeks try making SOMETHING in every workout better than the previous workout. It doesn’t need to be huge increases every time. For example it could be increasing the jogging time by 1 minute each session or slowly increasing weights/reps/sets in the gym. The important thing is to keep moving in a positive direction.
One of the biggest keys for sticking to our training is tracking! When we write down all of the work we get done during the workout, it’s easier to push for a little more each session… that progression gets addictive very quickly!
All of these points are essentially just making the “Habit-building” process easier. When our fitness routines become part of our habit and way of life, then we will sustain what we are doing rather than just doing 1 or 2 bouts of extreme sessions once every now and then. Below I’ve listed a table of an example of a very basic progression of getting back into working out. However, you can apply this principle to any level of fitness.
Good luck to anyone getting back into training! Remember to keep going with the schedule, tracking, progression and do not accept the possibility of skipping a workout!
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle