Haven’t Worked Out in a While? Here’s How To Get Back In the Game

Heads up — slow and steady wins the race.

By: Dominique Astorino

Has it been a little while since you hit the gym? No stress. Whether you’ve been busy, distracted, injured, or just haven’t been able to find the motivation, there’s no better time to start again than right now. You can do it! (Of course, this is if you have clearance from your doctor and/or physical therapist!)

The 101 on Easing Back Into it 

If it’s been a week to 10 days since you broke a sweat, you may have lost a little tone, but it’s probably not noticeable, and you may not feel any loss of strength or stamina whatsoever. 

At two weeks of no workouts, you might have even more tone loss, but here’s the deal — you probably didn’t lose any strength (experts say you can maintain your strength for roughly six weeks!). This means you can get right back into it and still lift at your usual weight-range. 

After a three to four week pause, you may notice a more significant difference in your aerobic capacity/stamina, which means you will feel a little more winded doing your regular exercise regimen. But don’t panic! It really is just like riding a bike (a Spin bike, perhaps), and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your body acclimates once you’re back on your routine. 

One study showed that even after an eight month break from exercise, people got back to their regular routine in just six weeks! It would potentially take years of not exercising to lose the progress you’ve made leading up to your break.

After all, breaks are good for you — too much exercise can lead to overtraining syndrome, which is quite serious and can have a whole array of negative effects on your body and mind. So if you’re feeling tired or hurt, please listen to your body! Take that pause so you can come back to your workouts feeling refreshed and ready, not depleted or in pain.

As for how long you have to wait after being injured? That’s up to your doctor. It varies depending on the type and severity of your injury, so it’s a bit too nuanced to have a one-size-fits-all formula.

But when you are getting back on the wagon, here are some ways to ease into things. 

Get Back Into Working Out With These 5 Hacks

#1 Start Low and Go Slow

Ease back into workouts by keeping it short and sweet, and relatively low-impact (ie, don’t do a 60 minute HIIT bootcamp straight away)

Try this: Low Impact Cardio, 4 exercise moves that are kind to your joints while you build stamina.

Try this: Dance Sculpt, nothing like a quick dance sesh to make you fall in love with exercise again

Try this: Full Body Cardio, keep it short, sweet, and sweaty; this session’s only 8 minutes

#2 Modify, Modify, Modify

We’re talking push-ups on the knees, stepping instead of jumping, the works. Don’t overdo it your first time getting back into it! Everything can be modified; never sacrifice form for speed or intensity.

#3 Bodyweight First

Before getting into those heavy weights, try doing some bodyweight exercises first to rebuild strength, form, and confidence. 

Try this: Total Core, a strong midsection protects your back and serves as the foundation for a strong bod

#4 Warm up and Cool Down

Don’t forget these crucial steps for each and every workout (even the quick ones!). Ensure you’re doing a proper warm up to get your body ready, and cool down afterward to recover. This is essential!

Try this: Move Better Stretch, a 12-minute stretch sesh to cool down.

#5 Stretch it Out

Your muscles might be stiff and sore from limited movement. Make sure you’re doing some good dynamic stretching to get yourself back in the game!

Try this: Get Stretchy: 16 minutes of getting your muscles warm with a beginner yoga flow

And Remember — Be Kind to Yourself

No matter how you get back in the workout game, be sure to be kind to yourself. This is a lifelong process, and you should be proud that you’ve made health and wellness such a priority life. Cheers to you and your fitness journey!