How To Start Working Out Again After A Break

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February 22, 2022 - Updated January 2, 2024

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Getting back into exercise after a break isn’t always easy, and whether you’re coming back after injury, illness, a holiday or just found one or two missed sessions turned into weeks or months, it’s normal to feel nervous about working out again. 

We know returning to the gym when you haven’t been for a while can be intimidating, and so can working out at home and not knowing how - or where - to begin.

While losing some progress is inevitable when you’ve taken time off, it happens to the best of us — and it is possible to get back on track.

Even though it can feel demotivating knowing you won’t be able to pick up where you left off, don’t let it stop you from taking that first step. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself how good it feels to move your body — even if it takes you a while to rebuild your fitness and make healthy habits part of your routine.

It’s important to remember everyone begins again at some point — even your favourite trainers. Here are nine ways to jumpstart your fitness so you can start working out again today.

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Manage your expectations

First things first — be realistic. If you’ve taken some time off, you probably won’t be able to jump straight back into what you were doing before. It’s going to take some time, so be patient with yourself.

You might want to start off with bodyweight exercises before you progress to using weights, or opt for low-intensity cardio to build your fitness before you smash out a HIIT session.

If you were following a Sweat program, ease yourself back in using the On Demand section or go back to a week in your program that you feel confident with!

Plan when, where and who you’ll work out with

Planning your workouts can include everything from who you’re working out with to where and when you’ll be able to exercise. You can even use the Sweat Planner within the app to schedule your sessions by time and day according to your weekly goals.

If you prefer to train at home, make sure you have the right home gym equipment, or if you’re planning to work out in a gym, make sure you feel comfortable in your environment.

If you prefer to train at home, make sure you have the right home gym equipment, or if you’re planning to work out in a gym, make sure you feel comfortable in your environment.To prepare for a successful first workout back, think about some habits you can put in place to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

For example, getting enough sleep and having your activewear ready the night before can help take the stress out of a morning workout. A pre-workout snack can give you an energy boost before an evening session, or you can find a workout buddy to keep you accountable.

To make sure you give your body the time it needs to recover, avoid scheduling high-intensity workouts on consecutive days.

Set purposeful goals

Setting SMART goals — goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely — can help you stay focused and give you some much-needed direction, especially if it’s been a while since you had a regular training schedule. When your goals are meaningful and designed to add value to your life, you’ll be much more driven to reach them.

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Ease back into a consistent routine

It’s okay to start small, and that might be with just one workout a week. As you begin to develop a routine, gradually start increasing the frequency of your workouts.

Remember, you’ve had some time off so your body needs to get used to moving again. Going too hard too fast can lead to fatigue, burnout and increased risk of injury.

Try shorter workouts

A quick workout can be all you need to start rebuilding your routine without feeling overwhelmed or burnt out — the key is to keep it consistent. When you feel ready, you can begin to challenge yourself with longer workouts.

If you need inspiration, Sweat’s express workouts can be incorporated into your main program and you can find them in the On Demand section of the app.

If you don’t have the time for a structured workout, try including exercise snacks in your routine. This could include anything that gets you up and moving, from taking the stairs to spending some time at the playground with your kids!

Take it back to basics

Practicing your technique can help reduce your chance of injury — you might already be familiar with lunges, push-ups and squats, but after some time off you might need to retrain your muscles to ensure you’re getting the most out of these movements.

There are exercise instructions included throughout your Sweat workouts and if you find any moves too difficult, you can modify them until you rebuild your strength — you can use the substitute exercise feature if you get stuck.

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Prioritise rest and recovery

Coming back after some time off means you might be feeling the effects of your training, which is why making time for rest and recovery is so important.

Recovery begins with a good warm-up — getting your muscles warm and your blood flowing will prepare your body for your workout, and when you finish, cool down with stretches that target the muscle groups you’ve just trained.

Active recovery on your rest days can help you maintain your routine, but if you begin to feel fatigued or stressed, it might be a sign you’re overtraining. Pull back and think about other forms of self-care you can practice to help prioritise your wellbeing.

Join a fitness challenge

Challenging yourself is a great way to help you make fitness a habit when you’ve been out of action for a while. The Sweat Challenge can help you find the fun in fitness again, and you’ll never do it alone! With four brand new programs from Kayla Itsines, Kelsey Wells, Britany Williams and Katie Martin, it all kicks off 8 January.

Embrace healthy habits

It’s important to consider your fitness journey beyond your workouts — your nutrition, sleep habits, and hydration are all key components to a healthy lifestyle and will help you feel and perform at your best.

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Ready for your first workout?

Ready to get back into exercise?

When life throws you a curveball, use these steps to get yourself back on track. 

It can be daunting restarting your fitness journey, but with a solid plan, a new set of goals and ongoing support you can step into your first workout with confidence and you’ll soon find those daily commitments will turn back into familiar healthy habits.

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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