It happens to all of us at one time or another – we fall out of our regular training routine. It usually starts innocently enough with a couple of skipped sessions. But before you know it, it’s been over a month since you last pulled on your workout gear.
There are plenty of reasons that this happens. Maybe it started as a set period of downtime, like for a holiday or to recover from an injury. Or maybe life just got in the way, and you had to sacrifice your training sessions to meet your other commitments.
Whatever the reason, once you break your routine, restarting it can be tough. Generally, your motivation level will be low, and your body will struggle to make it through your old workouts. Pushing through this takes careful planning and plenty of persistence.
Here we look at how to go about getting back into regular exercise after an extended period off. We explore the things you need to think about when restarting training and the importance of being in the right headspace. We also share our advice for restructuring your training plan and committing to your new routine.
Things to think about when restarting training
If it’s been a while since your last training session, there are a few things to consider before restarting regular exercise. Specifically, you should think about:
- How long you’ve been out of the game: It takes as little as two weeks without training for you to start losing strength and cardio fitness. As such, if it’s been longer than that, you will likely need to adjust your training plan. You may also need to find extra ways to motivate yourself as you break back into a routine.
- Why you took time out: Understanding why you stopped training should help you avoid running into the same problems in the future. For example, if it was a time issue, you can make sure your schedule is built around your training sessions. Or, if you were injured, you can plan your workouts to minimise the risk of any further damage.
- What you want to achieve: Motivation is the key to successfully getting back into a regular exercise routine. As such, it is important to have a clear view of your goals and how you plan to reach them. This will help you plan your training schedule and give you a way to track your progress.
Tips for getting back into your routine
There are a few simple ways to make getting back into regular exercise a little easier. This includes:
- Starting slow: Pushing yourself too hard, too fast, can lead to demotivation and increases the potential for injuries. Instead, start with something more manageable and slowly build up the intensity level. Even if you can initially only manage 15 – 20 minutes of medium intensity activity, that’s better than nothing!
- Focus on activities you enjoy: When you’re just getting back into the swing of things, it’s mostly about re-establishing a routine. You can make this easier by making your sessions fun and reminding yourself of what you loved about training. Chances are, you will also have good muscle memory for your favourite exercises, so you should see some quick improvement.
- Let go of the past: You need to accept that you’re not going to be as strong or as quick as you used to be. Instead of dwelling on what you now can’t do, focus on getting back to where you once were. Remember, fitness training is all about the journey, not the destination!
- Remember to warm up and cool down: There are going to be some aches and pains as your body readjusts to the rigours of regular exercise. However, you can minimise these by taking the time to warm up before and stretch out after each workout. This is particularly important if you include resistance training in your sessions, as muscle soreness can be a major demotivator.
- Preparation is key: If you’re struggling with motivation, you need to remove every barrier to actually getting into your training session. For example, if you plan on training in the morning, make sure you get your gear ready the night before. You should also have a clear plan for each workout to help minimise any downtime during your sessions.
Structuring your nutrition and supplementation plans
If you stepped back from your usual training routine, chances are you also relaxed your eating plan. But, if you’re going to start exercising regularly again, your body will need the necessary fuel for growth and repair. This may mean you also need to restart your commitment to a clean diet.
However, just as with your training, you should avoid the temptation to go too hard, too soon. Suddenly changing your diet can have a major impact on both your mental state and energy levels. It can also have some negative physical effects, like shocking your body into storing fat and cannibalising muscle for energy.
Instead, start slow by reintroducing some simple good nutritional behaviours, like keeping hydrated and cutting back on highly processed foods. Then, as your training activity ramps up, you can match this with improvements in your eating plan. For more information on structuring your nutrition in support of your training goals, check out MAX’S Ultimate Nutrition Guide.
Similarly, you should keep your supplementation fairly simple to start with, focusing on products that promote muscle growth and recovery. This includes:
- Whey protein: A high-quality protein powder is a staple as it gives your body the fuel it needs to repair and recover. Whey protein is a particularly good choice as it is a complete protein and contains all the essential amino acids.
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): BCCAs, best known for the critical role they play in promoting muscle health, provide a wide range of benefits. Most significantly, they can help boost energy levels and maximise lean muscle gains.
- Pre-workouts: A good pre-workout blend will give you the energy and focus to attack every training session. Depending on the product, it could also help speed up recovery, promote lean muscle growth, or even encourage fat burning.
Then, as you make progress with your training, you can add more specialised products to your supplement stack.