We’ve all been there. You take a few weeks off from working out, and suddenly, you don’t feel great about yourself. Maybe you start to notice a few extra pounds around your waistline, or you can’t seem to get through your workout without being winded.
Whatever the case, getting back in shape after an extended break can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are four simple rules to follow that will help you get back on track without re-injuring yourself in the process.
Tips to Get Back in Shape After Taking Too Long A Break
We all know how hard it is to stay motivated to exercise, especially when busy or stressed. But taking a break from working out can do more harm than good.
If you thought taking a few days off to "rest" would do your body a world of good, think again! If more than a week has passed since your last workout, you might just be experiencing what we call "detraining."
That's right: inactivity can cause serious physical effects like your muscles losing strength, power, and size and your cardiovascular endurance decreasing rapidly, and you'll find yourself going backward instead of forwards on your fitness journey. What happens during detraining is that your gains made during training become undone - the very reason why consistency is key.
No matter what workout you’re into – lifting, running, cycling, swimming, or something else – there are some essential tips you should follow when starting up again.
First things first: get the green light from a doctor. It’s always a good idea to check in with your primary care physician or someone monitoring your health to ensure your heart and blood levels are good to go. Once you get the all-clear, you can start your training regimen.
So jumping right back into your previous routine is not the best idea. Instead, follow these four essential rules to regain shape after a break.
Rule 1: Exercise for At Least 20 Minutes Three Times a Week
Everyone knows that exercise is important, but not everyone knows how to make it a part of their lives. That's where Rule 1 comes in: Exercise for approximately 20 minutes three times a week.
You don't have to go crazy and start working out for hours daily, but you must commit to moving your body regularly. And the good news is that plenty of ways to exercise don't involve going to the gym.
You can take a brisk walk around your neighbourhood, go for a swim, or even dance in your living room. So get moving and stick to Rule 1.
Rule 2: Stay in the Aerobic Range
If you've ever found yourself panting and sweating after a few minutes on the elliptical, you were probably working out in the wrong heart rate zone. When working out, you want to stay in the aerobic range, around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.
That's the sweet spot for fat burning and staying healthy. But if you go too hard, you'll feel exhausted without getting any real benefits. So next time you're at the gym, watch that heart rate monitor.
Rule 3: Don't Jump Right Back Into Your Old Routine
If you're itching to get back into shape, don't rush it. Especially if you were an athlete at a higher performance level—take it easy and plan accordingly. Piling weights on your first workout or running a marathon on the second day won't give you the results you've been striving for.
Instead, you'll be putting unnecessary stress on your muscles and tendons that haven't been properly used in some time. Think of the effort it took to get to the fitness level you previously had, don't rob yourself of giving yourself a chance to get there once more.
Rushing could set you up for an all too familiar injury, so as a friendly reminder- be patient and ease into that exercise routine.
Rule 4: Prioritize Recovery Measures
If you've been sidelined from your fitness routine by a minor injury or a bit of laziness, don't try to rush back into it with full intensity. Recovery measures must be prioritized to get your body back in tip-top shape; there's nothing funny about pulling or straining those muscles again.
Start small and increase intensity slowly—it'll make all the difference in the long run. Besides, there are plenty of other benefits to starting slow; a little extra sleep never hurts anyone, especially when getting back into the swing of things.
1. How to get back into exercise after a long break?
First, ease into it. You're not going to be able to go from zero to hero overnight. Start with some basic cardio and work your way up. Secondly, mix things up. If you're getting bored with your workout routine, change it! Try new exercises, switch up your locations, or add variety to your reps and sets. And finally, make sure you're enjoying yourself.
2. How long does it take to get back in shape after 2 years off?
Assuming you were in decent shape, it probably won't take too long to get back into the swing of things. A few weeks of solid training should do the trick. Of course, it would take a bit longer to get back in shape if you were a total couch potato before your two-year break. That's why they call it a "couch potato." You have to start somewhere.
3. How to get back into working out after a month?
It's like getting back on the horse: You take it slow and steady, building yourself up to full strength as you go. Plus, having a month off allows your body to recover and repair itself, so you should feel more rested and eager to tackle those workouts when you get back in the game.
4. How to get back in shape?
Exercise, nutrition, and even sleep are all part of the equation for improving your physical health and fitness, so don't focus on just one thing. Consider focusing on short-term goals rather than trying to make radical lifestyle changes all at once.
For example, shoot for running a mile every day for a week before moving on to weightlifting or training for a 5k race. Remember that getting back in shape isn't going to happen overnight.
The Bottom Line
Everybody wants to get in quick, spicy shape, but doing that without injury can be challenging. You need to consider visiting your doctor to monitor your health and then start with four important tips.
Start exercising 20 minutes three times a week, ensure you set on a 50-70% aerobic range, don't push yourself into the old routine and go with low intensity and give your muscle an adequate amount of time to heal and recover to start again.
These tips will help you get into shape again with absolute convenience that you will thank yourself for waiting and reaping the fruit you had been waiting patiently for.
- Patel, Harsh, et al. “Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise Training Effects on the Cardiovascular System.” World Journal of Cardiology, vol. 9, no. 2, Feb. 2017, pp. 134–38. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.4330/wjc.v9.i2.134.