Taking a break from exercise happens to everyone during their lives at some point or another. It’s only natural, and multiple reasons can make it happen. Despite that, though, when the time does come for you to take the plunge again, there are a lot of ways to make it easier for yourself when you’re ready to get back into exercise, and it could even make it better than when you left it.

There are several things to consider to determine how successful you can be when you are ready, though, so it’s important to know the facts and how you can help yourself to hit the ground running. The last thing you need is to make simple mistakes that can make it difficult to keep it up. This is a long game, after all.

We've made a step by step guide on how to get back into exercise from start to finish to make things as easy as we possibly could. Of course, it's not an easy thing to do, but getting started is always the first step, and you're certainly in the right place to do it.

Let's get into it:


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.

  1. Figure Out Why You Stopped
  2. Build Your Motivation
  3. Progressively Build Up
  4. Plan Ahead

1. Figure Out Why You Stopped

Man sat at a desk, head in hands, looking tired

One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to find out what made you stop exercising the first time. There are a lot of factors that can come into play when thinking about your reasons to stop. Some are inevitable, some not so much.

It may be easier to put this into context. If you were training to lose weight for an event or holiday, for example, it can be easy to stop once the time has passed even though you know you shouldn’t, whether you reached your goal or not. That's not a good way to look at it, as your health isn't a short term goal, and you're planning to give up.

Other more long-term issues can have a huge impact on your commitment, too, though. For example, not seeing your progress continue or even finding yourself in a plateau can be a huge obstacle to overcome in your training, but there's always a way around what is stopping you.

Once you have managed to find the reason, you're ready to move onto the next stage of the process of getting yourself back on track!

2. Build Your Motivation

woman lifting a barbell and weights

The next step of your journey back to fitness is building up your motivation to help you find a reason to keep on training. It may even be the same as it was before you took the break, but now with a fresh attitude and some extra guidance, you can give yourself a fighting chance to stick at it and make fitness a healthy and enjoyable part of your life.

Even if you’re not sure where to start, doing some research as to what might have gone wrong can be useful. Looking at advice like our weight loss plateau busters or why your training slows is a good place to start. That's as well as finding what works best to reach the goals you’re looking for and finding ideas to keep things fresh.

Working out in a group like in a class or even just with a friend or family member can be a brilliant way to get the ball rolling, especially if you lack the confidence to get back into it or the drive just to get things started again after your time off. Anything you need to keep up your motivation is going to be useful. 

Remember Muscle Memory

person training with dumbbells

Before we go much further, we need to look at one crucial benefit that is on your side throughout all of this. Your body has a genius way of keeping you in good condition even after your exercise, thanks to the work you already put in. It's an amazing concept to have at your disposal.

Muscle memory means that even if you haven’t trained in a long time, the extra cells that you did produce when you were training are still there in your body. They're actually just waiting to be needed again. That gives you much faster progress than you would have seen the first time you were training, no matter if it was for strength training or cardio.

This means that you’ll be able to still perform to a good extent even though you haven’t been as committed as you maybe could have been. That's amazing news for getting back into exercise! It's a great way to build up your confidence and motivation and means that you’ll progress faster too.

It’s a win-win and a great way to encourage you to get back into your fitness plan.

3. Progressively Build Up

person squatting to lift a barbell

Even though this may sound like a bit of a contradiction, you need to be ready for gradual progress. You won't walk in exactly where you left off. You can't just walk into your gym and get back on the bench with the same weight you had when you left. Trying may actually be demotivating if you feel disappointed from the get-go.

You're muscle still needs time to build up, and your form or technique may well be off, too, just like when you start something new. Start slowly and work your way back up, or you are just asking for an injury to happen, which may take you back out of your training quicker than you started it. That's a big piece of advice we wish someone gave us. 

This applies to cardio too. No matter what shape you are in or where you left off, even if you don't see many physical differences, your stamina has likely gone downhill, and you won’t be able to perform as strongly as you were doing. Don’t push yourself too hard, and make sure you’re doing the best you can be, in the shape you are in when you do decide to get back into things. It's not a race, and your health comes first.

4. Plan Ahead

someone planning a workout

Finally, one of the most important things to consider when you’re getting back into your training is to plan ahead. Getting used to putting time aside for your fitness can be really challenging after a long time off as you often have other things that will be filling up your time.

Plan to find when you can be doing it effectively and when you are most likely to do so without having to sacrifice other things in your life; otherwise, you'll likely take another short break or start missing workouts that will hinder your progress and make you want to stop again. Find gaps in your day and plan your fitness around your life and not the other way around. Make things as easy for yourself as you can. That gives you the best chance at sticking with it and not making your health a chore.

Remember to take things at your own pace, and don’t expect instant gratification. Fitness is hard to master and needs to be a long-term situation, not a short-term fix, to get to where you want to be.

Only you can control how you’ll train, but with the right attitude and the right knowledge, you can get back into a routine in no time at all, and it will feel like second nature.


general

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.