Get return in a workout routine may seem more difficult than starting one for the first time.
Depending on the length of the break, the results you worked so hard for may have diminished; the momentum you created may be gone. Rather than having “nowhere to go but up” like when you first started training, it feels like you're starting from a point of regression, and that can be frustrating.
But it doesn't have to be.
It doesn't matter whether you missed a week, a month, or several months of training. This is where you are now, and what other choice do you have than to move forward?
How to Return to Training After a Break: Step 1
Do not regret the situation. Don't worry about the diminished results. Do not engage in self-flagellation. Don't feel guilty for skipping a few workouts or even “letting go”. It is not a dire situation worthy of your pity or frustration, and it does not need to be catastrophic. Accumulating guilt or frustration won't help you get back to training.
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Life has arrived, you've missed workouts, and you're here now, ready to take the next step. This is all that matters. So let go of any guilt or frustration and get to work.
How to get back to work after a week off
If you were working out regularly for months and missing a week of training due to illness, extenuating circumstances, or something more enjoyable like a vacation, that week off may seem like a failure.
Let's be clear: an occasional week off isn't a big deal, so don't turn it into just one. If you work out regularly, regularly, and then a few weeks off over a whole year, for example, it's like taking a few drops of water in a bucket. There is no visual effect.
The best thing you can do is do not get upset about missing a week of work and picking up where you left off like nothing happened. (This assumes you missed a week because of a minor illness, vacation, or something else. Whether you've had surgery or been injured, that's another story.)
You may be stronger or have improved performance after the brief break (because the fatigue has had more time to wear off), or your strength may take a little hit (due to reduced coordination). Either way, it doesn't matter. Come back immediately and do what you can. You may need to do a few workouts to get back to your previous level, or you may be performing better than before the break.
To summarize what to do if you miss a week of training: resume normal activity as if nothing happened and adjust the workouts if necessary. If the weights need to be reduced with strength training, do it. A decrease in weight and intensity may be necessary if you have missed workouts due to an illness, such as a cold or severe flu. If you need to reduce the length or intensity of cardio sessions, do so. It will quickly revert to previous levels.
How to resume training after a 2-4 week break
After missing a week of training, most people can return to normal activity with little or no modification needed (unless there has been illness, in which case a modification may be warranted). If you miss two to four weeks of training, a recommended modification is to reduce the total volume from the first workouts, and maybe starting over with weights a little lighter than you used to before, about 5-10% less is a good guide.
Reducing the total workout volume - by doing fewer sets for each exercise or doing fewer total exercises per workout - will help you get back to training so you don't have too much pain. For example, if you were doing four sets of work for each exercise before the layoff, do two sets of work for each exercise and use lighter weights for the first few workouts.
This way you get back into the habit of working out, you don't overwhelm your recovery abilities, and you feel comfortable performing the exercises again. After a week or two, you should be close to your previous strength levels and can continue as if the break hadn't happened.
How to return to training if you don't know how long it's been since you've touched a weight or cardio machine
Start doing something, literally whatever, As soon as possible. Today. Now, preferably.
If there's an activity you enjoy doing - weight training, cardio, or a hobby that involves moving your body - then start there. The best thing you can do is get started and then you can decide which way to go after the momentum has been built.
To resume strength training after an indistinguishable layoff, a good approach is to go back to beginner status: Use a few core exercises, use weights you can dominate to restore confidence with the exercise, and resist doing too much too soon out of impatience.
Trying to come back at full speed after a long layoff is not smart. Being brutally sore does not make the results faster; in fact, it can slow progress because your body will be too busy repairing the damage just to get back to baseline, and as a result, you won't improve performance or build muscle.
Don't be in a rush to get back to your previous performance, body weight, or shape. Give yourself room to progress in the workouts by not doing too early. Give your body time to rebuild its strength and capacity for work.
Why did you stop working in the first place?
Most people don't ask this question after a long layoff from the gym. But they should, and you probably should too.
Perhaps you had to deal with a crucial real-life question that took priority. Maybe you used your usual training time to perfect a work project. If your stoppage of training was the result of increased life demands, get back into the habit of training with your favorite routine.
However, if your absence from training was due to the fact that your previous diet was not sustainable (that is, it did not fit with your lifestyle; your life revolved around the program, you so stopped), you often dreaded workouts rather than impatiently waiting for them. , the workouts were taking too long to complete so you ended up skipping them, were constantly sore or spent more time dealing with aches and pains rather than training, then it's time to embrace a new one. approach to start training again.
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If any of these scenarios describes you, don't just restart. Start again with a better plan that matches your preferences, goals, and lifestyle. Prepare for success this time.
Choose a physical activity or workout that you would like to do. Use the equipment you prefer or feel comfortable with. Perhaps focus on getting strong instead of burning calories if the latter is all, exercise was never for you. If time is not a luxury, you may just need workouts that you can complete within 30 minutes so that you can complete an effective workout and move on with your life. (If that's you, see the article How to make short workouts more effective.)
Fitness should be a constant quest; do what you can now to make sure that happens.
The one rule that governs them all
No matter where you are right now - after missing a week of training or not doing any structured exercise for a year or more - the next step is the same: start immediately. Get back to your workout habit.
Considering my huge bias in lifting weights, that would mean doing some type of strength training, whether it's with dumbbell exercises or dumbbell exercises. Make the game easier on yourself if you have to: use light weights that you can dominate and focus on using effective technique and reconnect with what it feels like to push and pull weights again.
Not sure if you are doing some of the basic exercises correctly? Use these tutorials to get started:
Or maybe you prefer cardio; it's great too. Take a walk around your neighborhood to get started, if that's the easiest option.
Coming back to training after a layoff, especially a long one, it really doesn't matter what you do, only that you do something. So keep doing it.
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Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and burpees, are a one-way ticket to feeling like an all-around badass because not only will they help you build strength, but explosiveness ( or power ), speed, and agility, too. Those last three perks don’t come from strength training alone, so it’s key to round out your fitness routine with jump training ( another name for plyo ).
All plyo movements require your muscles to stretch and contract at a rapid pace, which helps them become more explosive. So, unsurprisingly, they’re considered a intensity workout. The benefit of firing up your muscles this way, though : It spikes your heart rate ( oh hey, cardio ) and burns *all* the kcal.
Before you jump into plyo training, you want to feel solid when it comes to stability, balance, and core strength. But aside from that, the beauty of it is that you can scale plyo to your fitness level and that it is totally beginner-friendly. Can’t jump up onto a three-foot-tall box ? Start small ! The most important thing is that your movements are quick; they don’t have to be BIG. As you feel more stable and powerful, amp it up !
I like to incorporate two or three plyometric exercises into the beginning of my workouts after my warm-up. Since they demand so much of your bod, you don’t want to go into them already fatigued from a bunch of other moves. Want your entire workout to have plyometric vibes ? You can do that, too. Just be ready to feel the burn in ways you’ve never felt it before.
Start standing facing a plyo box ( about two-feet away from it ). Rise up onto balls of feet and swing straight arms over head, then bend knees and push hips back into a hinge position and swing arms back behind body to gain momentum to explode up off floor and jump up onto the box. Land in a squat position, with knees bent, feet flat, and hands in front of chest. Then stand up straight and step back down to starting position. That’s one rep.
Start in a plank position, then jump feet forward outside of hands. Drop butt below knees, lift torso up, and raise hands to chest level. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
Start standing with feet under hips next to a plyo box, bent forward to place both hands flat on the top of it. Press through hands, brace core, and kick feet up and back towards glutes to hop body over to opposite side of box. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
Start standing with hands at sides. Hop up into the air. Upon landing, squat down, press hands into floor, and kick feet up into air higher than shoulder height. Let feet land directly under body, then hop back up. That’s one rep.
Start standing with feet under hips to the right of a plyo box. Rise up onto balls of feet and lift arms overhead, then with momentum, push hips back into a hinge position and swing arms back. Use this oomph to press through feet while swinging arms forward to explode up off floor. In mid-air, rotate entire body degrees to the left and land in a slight squat place with hands in front of chest on top of the box, knees bent and feet flat. Stand up straight, then step back down to starting position. That’s one rep.
Start in a plank position with shoulders stacked over wrists and core engaged. Drive right knee toward chest, then return to plank and quickly repeat with the left. Keep alternating sides as quickly as possible. That’s one rep.
Start standing on right foot at far right end of mat or workout space with left leg bent, left foot lifted and crossed behind right leg, left arm bent and crossed in front of body, right arm behind back, and torso tilted slightly forward. Take a big hop to left switching arms and legs to mirror move on opposite side. Jump back to start. That’s one rep.
to start, stand with feet together and hands at sides. Then, lift arms out and overhead while jumping feet out past shoulders. Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
Start standing with feet just outside of shoulders holding one dumbbell with both hands in front of body, arms extended straight toward floor. Lift right foot up off mat and behind body while bending at elbows to swing weight over left shoulder. Quickly hop from left foot to right while straightening arms and drawing dumbbell diagonally across chest toward right hip, torso and gaze follow weight. That’s one rep. ( Make sure to switch your starting foot for the second round. )
Get into a plank place, with shoulders stacked on top of wrists. Keeping core engaged, tap right shoulder with left hand while jumping both feet out wide to sides. Return to start, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.