8 Tips on How to Get Back to the Gym After Taking a Long Break
This past week in practice we've heard from so many patients who are so excited to get back to the gym now that they are finally open again! We've also heard some of you complain about the few extra kilos they've piled on while being stuck at home in isolation. And other's whom have used this time in "lock-down" to self-asses and reflect, and have realised that they've neglected their health for so long, and now's the time to do something about it.
But before you slip those runners on and re-activate your gym membership (or sign up for a new one), we wanted to offer some advice on how to get back to exercise safely and effectively. The last thing we want is to see you come into the practice with a new injury - which can be painful both physically and financially.
So here are our top 8 tips for getting back to exercise after a long break:
1. Start easy
Getting back into exercising (or starting from scratch) can be quite overwhelming for many people. Most of the time its best to start with something easy like a brisk walk or a light jog. Don't expect to be able to lift the same amount of weight or do cardio for the same amount of time as previously. As soon as you start with something small and feel good from that, you’ll want to continue on and get back into your healthy habits.
2. Get back to your normal eating and sleeping habits
We all know good nutrition and rest have a big impact on your energy level. What you may not know is that altering the time you eat your meals can also have an impact. The sooner you can get back to your normal diet and the times you're used to dining, the quicker you’ll start feeling more like yourself.
Another commonly overlooked factor is sleep. While in iso you may have been staying up late at night binge watching netflix and sleeping in past midday. Getting back to a healthy sleep routine with a consistent bed time and wake-up time, and ensuring an adequate and amount of sleep will mean you have more energy at the gym and help you get the most of your workouts.
3. Schedule it in your diary
If you are looking for an excuse to not workout, then you will find find an opportunity for a distraction to deter you. That’s why it’s important to clear your schedule and make time specifically for your daily exercise. Make sure it’s scheduled for a time that you won’t get easily distracted. If you know that you get caught up at work in the evenings, then schedule your workout in the mornings. If mornings are too busy, then schedule your workout in the evenings. If you know it’s going to be a crazy busy day, then just commit to a quick fifteen-minute HIIT session, as doing something is always better than doing nothing.
4. Prepare your gym bag
What if exercising in the morning used to be your thing, but now you struggle to get up early? Prepare your gym bag the night before and lay it next to your bed. Put your alarm on the other side of the room so when it goes off, you will have to get out of bed to turn it off. Once you are out of bed and your gym bag is already packed, you may as well get up and go. If you go to the gym after work, place your gym bag next to your desk. This will act as a good reminder of what you have committed to and you will be less likely to back out.
5. Remember how good it makes you feel
Sometimes we focus too much on the effort of it, rather than the outcome. The thing with a workout is while it can be hard in the moment, you will always feel absolutely amazing afterwards. So, if you need something to help you refocus and motivate you, just remember that post-workout high. Aside from some sore muscles, you will never regret a workout.
6. Set SMART goals
Get clear on what you hope to accomplish with your rekindled exercise routine. And while setting a goal is great, you’ll increase your odds of success with a SMART goal:
Specific: It’s not enough to say you want to “get fit;” you need to be specific. Choose a specific goal that will get you to your overall goal. For example, training for a half-marathon or dead-lifting "X" amount of Kilos.
Measurable: Once you identify your specific goal, make sure you’re able to measure your progress, after all, if you’re not assessing, you’re just guessing. If your goal is to run a half-marathon, gauge progress by hitting certain benchmarks throughout your training regimen. Trying to lose weight? Track progress by weighing yourself periodically and/or having body composition measurements taken.
Attainable: People set lofty goals but then get discouraged when they can’t attain it, and then they fall off again. Whatever your goal, you should feel 90–100% confident you can attain it. If you’re not confident, consider breaking your goal into a smaller goal. For example, instead of aiming to lose 6 kilos in a month, try for three.
Relevant: Make sure your goal is consistent with your interests, needs and abilities. If you can’t stand running, for example, training for a marathon may not be the best fit for you.
Time-bound: Goals like “lose weight” or “get fit” are vague and have no end dates attached to them. Decide when you hope to achieve your goal by and fill in your timeline with milestones you need to hit to keep you on track.
7. Do it for your self, not for anyone else
Being fit and healthy should be about making yourself feel great, having confidence and aiming to be your best. Remember to do this for you, not for anyone else or for how they think you should look. Each time you exercise, know that you have done something good for yourself and celebrate that.
8. Get checked by your chiropractor
Before you start working out get checked by your chiropractor. We can assess you and detect any small problems/imbalances and talk to you about how to correct them so that you're less likely to sustain an injury. That way you get the most out of your investment in time and money and you'll be well on the way to achieving your health and fitness goals.
Additionally, having regular chiropractic check-ups while on your fitness journey can ensure that we identify any niggling injuries and support you with advice on technique modification, core strengthening and the best exercises suitable for your individual needs and goals.
BONUS TIP: Be Patient!
We understand that it can be difficult knowing that you’re not lifting as heavy, or running as fast or long as you could but you need to be patient. Work with the strength or energy you have now, and trust that as long as you are consistent and continue to workout, you will return to normal within a few weeks. Don’t try to push yourself from the get-go as this will only increase your risk of injury. And if you get injured, then you’ll find yourself spending more time out of the gym.
Building health and fitness isn’t a six-week challenge. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Focus on the process and persevere. Ask yourself how long it took you to fall out of shape. It will take at least as long get back in shape. It’s natural to want the shortcut to success. In reality, the only shortcut is persistence, consistency, and discipline. At the end of the day, you need to buckle down and put in work.
Once you regain your focus and remake training into a habit it’s amazing how quickly “crappy genetics,” improve and how you suddenly have enough time to train. Going forward, it’s time to find a sustainable approach: an approach which allows you to stay consistent and make progress even when you’re busy.
If you need some support getting back to the gym after some time off, contact us today and one of our chiropractors will be more than happy to guide you through our tried and tested tips and help you cater them to your individual needs.