So you haven’t worked out in a while. You’re not alone.
For whatever reason – lack of time, injuries, pregnancy, or just plain hating exercise – most of us experience a lull in exercise at one point or another. No matter the reason, getting back to the gym after time away can be tough!
Nevertheless, when you are ready to get back at it and stick to it for good, here are 9 tips to show you how to start working out again and stay with it.
When you sprint out of the gates full force after doing nothing for a long time, what happens? You run out of gas before you have even had a chance to really get going. Your body needs time to adjust to this new activity level.
Jumping in with too much too soon is going to leave you injured, exhausted and frustrated. None of those things indicate that you will be in this for the long run.
Believe it or not, if you start with just 10 minutes a day you are well on your way to success. Try 10 minutes, three or four days the first week, then add more little by little.
You can add a day or may start to change one or two of the 10-minute workouts to 20-minute workouts instead. Let your body adapt and change. It won’t take long!
Find Something You Like
Here’s the thing: fitness should be fun. We, at Get Healthy U, truly believe that!
If you try to get back into working out and it is considered a “chore” on your calendar, you’ll never stick with it.
In today’s world of fitness, the options are endless. Cycling, running, dancing, weight training, circuit training, kettlebells, pilates, and so many more. Whatever your style, there is an exercise for you!
So choose to do something you actually enjoy. Do you like indoors or outdoors? Mixing it up with others or going it alone?
If you hate running, don’t run! It will carry a negative stigma in your brain and you’ll never stick with it.
If you love dance, look for a local Zumba or dance-based class. If you enjoy the water, get in the pool and swim or look for a water aerobics class nearby.
Like high-speed? Try a circuit training class. The goal is to create an environment that you look forward to doing.
Related: The Beginner’s Guide To Swimming
Once you tell someone your plan to get in shape it’s much harder to drop out. Creating some type of accountability will go a long way in your quest for longevity.
One of the best and most fun ways to accomplish this is to simply find a workout buddy.
When your friend is waiting at the gym for you, or meeting you at 7:00am for a run, you’re not going to skip! If you’re on your own, it’s easier to make excuses or let other priorities take precedent.
No one in your life that’s willing to commit to this with you? Try an online community!
So many have found accountability by linking up online or through a fitness tracker app in a competition that has pushed them to keep going.
Set up an office fitness challenge at work. Anything that let’s someone else in the world know your plan will help keep you on track.
Watch Your Intensity
If you’ve been sedentary for a while, don’t jump back into fitness by tackling the hardest workout you can find.
Shoot for something that is moderate in intensity, holding off on the super hard and sweaty stuff until after you build a bit of a base.
For example, Get Healthy U TV’s low impact circuit workout doesn’t require equipment or use any impact on your joints. It gets you moving and provides tons of variety in just 10-minutes so it is both practical AND fun!
Or try a 10-minute yoga workout so that you move and feel GREAT when you’re done!
Learn Proper Form
Getting back to the gym might mean changes have happened since the last time you were there. New equipment, new classes, the world of fitness is always changing.
Even if you workout at home, the options have changed and the ideas may have been updated by new studies.
For instance, in the ‘90s we were told to focus on long, slow fat burning cardio and never get our heart rate too high. We have since learned that high intensity interval training is far more effective and takes far less time.
The best thing you can do when starting out is to empower yourself with information. If you have the cash flow, hire a trainer for a session or two and get the downlow on proper form in all of your movements and learn how to start working out again.
If an in-person training session doesn’t work for you, take time to find reputable trainers online who can talk you through each movement and workout giving you tips on proper form so you know you are getting things right.
This will serve you for the rest of your workout days so invest now! There is a right way and a wrong way to do a squat. Learn it and appreciate the process.
Take a Rest
It is important to understand this statement: your body doesn’t rest when you do.
When you give your body a rest day, just like when you sleep at night, your body is busy at work repairing and restoring to prepare for the next workout.
According to Pete McCall at the American Council on Exercise, it’s during the recovery period after the exercise that the body repairs the muscle proteins and replaces the glycogen used to fuel your workout.
It is also imperative to take rest days to avoid injury and burnout. Once you get into a regular workout routine schedule at least one or two days a week for resting.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you turn into a couch potato for the day. Going for a walk or doing some light stretching can be a great part of your rest/restore day!
Warm Up and Cool Down
Even the most seasoned athletes recognize that your body is not designed to go from zero to hundred out of the gate.
A solid warm-up using mobility and range of motion is important for anybody getting ready to move, no matter the sport or fitness challenge.
This should be followed by a good stretch AFTER the workout is finished.
Think: mobility for warm-up; flexibility for cool down. Learn the difference and make them part of your plan!
These two paired together properly will help you with any soreness or pain that might come alongside your new endeavors.
Better fuel gives better results. If you choose to skip meals, or reach for a sugary cereal box every morning instead of scrambled eggs, you’ll perform at a completely different level than you would if you’d have eaten the right way.
But what is the right way? Small meals every 3-4 hours that always include a form of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Balance in your eating is very important. So a handful of whole grain crackers will not take you as far as a few whole grain crackers with heathy nut butter on top. The fat and protein in the nut butter make your fuel last longer and give you more energy for your workout.
Simple carbs will make you crash more quickly and feel extra tired.
Related: 12 Healthy Pre-Workout Snacks
If breakfast is currently a bagel or muffin (simple carbs), consider switching to small bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts stirred in.
Or swap that lunchtime leftover pizza for a chicken breast with some baby carrots and hummus.
Your energy will increase and you will notice a big difference in your ability to move with more intensity.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!
The saying in fitness is that muscles are worked in the gym, fed in the kitchen and built in the bedroom.
This comes from the information we have that when we sleep, our muscles – which are broken down during exercise – undergo repair. While you sleep your body produces its own muscle-building hormone, HGH (human growth hormone).
This is the hormone that helps you build muscle which helps you ultimately speed up your metabolism and get a stronger body overall. So get your zzz’s!
Getting back into exercise can be intimidating, but if you follow this 9-step plan, you’ll be well on your way to finding success in your fitness goals and becoming a healthier you!