The biggest challenge when deciding to get back to the gym is how to sustain it regularly. How can you stay motivated? What can you do to get your body to stop feeling heavy after a lack of action? I
We’ve all had things in life that have prevented us from being active for periods. It might be holidays or injury, maybe just time constraints with work or family. Sadly, it’s sometimes all too easy to shift fitness off the priority list.
As you head back to the gym, you need to care for your body. You can’t just pick up where you left off. Trainers and experts consider that your body will need at least 4 weeks to regain its usual training rhythm.
So, for your fitness return to be a success, here are 5 hints to help you get back to the gym successfully.
What To Take Into Account When Planning To Get Back To The Gym?
Your return to the gym is going to have a greater chance of success if you’ve given it some thought.
Start by re-evaluating your physical condition and the goals you’re wanting to achieve. Getting clear will help you be focused and motivated during your initial stage of adapting to the gym.
The keys that should serve as a basis for developing an effective routine that allows you to get back to the gym are:
5 Ways To Confidently Get Back To The Gym
1. Reduce The Number Of Weekly Sessions
After a while without exercising, don’t expect to train at the same pace. Start by going to the gym twice a week and, depending on how you see yourself, go to three.
Making sure that you start correctly is crucial to ensure you are not injured within your first weeks back.
In your first month back, three weekly sessions are more than enough for your body to adapt again to a routine that will progressively gain in intensity.
Many people have made the mistake of going hard instantly when returning to the gym after a year, let alone a few months.
Thinking that training five days in a row will save you time when it comes to gaining fitness is a mistake. Your muscles need periods of rest after exercising that promote their recovery and allow you to continue training.
2. Progressive Effort
A good getting back to the gym workout should be progressed over time to slowly build on improvements.
During the first weeks, do not extend the training session by more than 30 – 45 minutes.
Trying to push yourself any further may give you negative results as the body cannot handle the extended load times without adapting first.
It may feel like you are going too slowly to notice anything straight away, but your body will appreciate this adjustment.
Perform the different exercises with moderate intensity when you return to the gym. If you train with weight, remember that you should start working with half the load (or less) of what you used before taking the ‘break’ in your workouts.
You can also build up to using something like a barbell for exercises by using other equipment like dumbbells while getting your rhythm back. A great example would be starting with low-weight in dumbbell bench presses before progressing to the barbell version of the exercise.
3. Special Attention To Warm-Up And Post-Training Period
The minutes you spend warming up your muscles, preparing them for the effort that lies ahead, are always important. This is almost the most important aspect to focus on if you are returning from a lengthy period of inactivity.
A lot of pressure and strain will be placed upon your muscles when you are getting back into the swing of things, so make sure that you treat them with care.
If you haven’t been doing anything for a while, warm up properly to give yourself the best movement possible during exercise.
After training, do the necessary stretches again to avoid excessive stiffness or worse (stiffness, muscle contracture, pain). This includes stretching muscles like your abs, as you would be surprised by the number of people that neglect to do this.
4. Get Back to the Gym and Vary your Workouts
The routine to get back to the gym must be as varied as possible regardless of your goals.
This will help you to ensure that your return to training is not too hard while keeping the program fresh and engaging.
It is about getting, in those first weeks, a general foundation in place to build upon and improve as you get better.
Don’t focus on working specific muscles during your first weeks of returning. You want to ensure that all muscles are being worked so that all muscle groups will have time to adapt to the change.
Circuit training, full-body routines to train the whole body (at moderate intensity) or a good combination of strength sessions and aerobic activities (running, swimming, cycling, spinning) are preferable.
5. Watch Your Diet
It is very likely that in the period without much physical activity you have also given yourself some slack regarding eating healthy.
The return to the gym can also be a good time to regain a more balanced and healthy diet. It is extremely important to give your body the resources and energy required to perform and recover from workouts.
A lot of people can ignore the influence that a good diet can have on your performance.
Many exercises that are performed in general require energy that is gained from many of the foods that you eat. If you do not give the body the best fuel it needs, it will not act at its fullest capacity.
Discuss all your doubts with your doctor or nutritionist. They can help you make a diet plan for it but stay committed to following it.
Exercises To Include When You Are Starting Again
You must establish your routine according to the ‘signals’ that your body gives you to determine the degree of intensity. Start by doing things that are within your comfortable range, don’t go too hard too fast.
Your own body is the best judge of what it can and cannot handle at a particular time, so it is important to listen to it.
But as a general rule, in the first workouts back to the gym, some options that are great to start using are those that move the whole body.
You could consider talking to a trainer to help you include some variety, including:
- Aerobic workouts, which make you gain physical shape by improving your cardio-pulmonary capacity: treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike.
- Multi-joint exercises, in which the large muscle groups intervene, strengthening the core, for example, squats, lunges, push-ups, abdominals, arm and leg extensions, hip elevation, and plank.
- Strength workouts, which increase resistance and muscular power with exercises such as chin-ups, bench presses, deadlifts, military presses, and dumbbell birds.
Remember not to exceed the time you dedicate to each exercise or the intensity of the training.
Do not do exercises with repetitions of maximum force, or resistance with so many repetitions as to overload the muscle.
Make sure you get back to the gym the right way, so you can reach your goals as quick as possible!