How To Overcome A Fitness Setback

Sweat logo

November 8, 2019

How To Overcome A Fitness Setback - Hero image

If you’ve been on your fitness journey for some time, it’s likely you have experienced a setback — an obstacle to your training — in some shape or form. It happens!

A setback doesn’t need to derail your fitness motivation — the resilience and determination required to overcome any setback are great characteristics to build upon.

Think of a setback as an opportunity to learn — about yourself, your body and your mind.

Here are some of the best strategies and techniques to help you get back into your fitness routine stronger than ever.

What does a setback look like?

A setback may hold you back for a day, or perhaps a week or even a month — you may even encounter more than one setback on your fitness journey. 

So, what exactly is a setback?

An illness or injury arises

Injury, sickness or a headache can strike at any time, or sometimes your digestive system will play up, leaving you feeling off.

As annoying and disruptive as it can be when you’re not feeling 100% you need to take some time out to recover.

Always seek medical advice and give your body the time it needs to rest. 

A change in schedule 

Schedules change— that’s part of life. Perhaps you’ve transitioned from university or college to a full-time job, or you’ve switched jobs and now find yourself doing shift work.

A change in schedule can make sticking to a routine tricky. Be easy on yourself and allow yourself time to adjust.

Work with the time you have, even if that’s only 30 minutes for exercise — it’s still possible to get your heart rate up in a shorter period of time (Hello, 20-minute HIIT workout!).

Losing motivation

Sometimes sticking to a fitness routine can seem impossible, and it can become hard to keep up with competing priorities.

Don’t beat yourself up about it — periods of demotivation are common.


Have you ever found it difficult to get back into your regular fitness routine after a holiday? It’s normal.

Holidays are a time to relax and unwind, and sometimes that means your fitness routine eases up. 

And everything else...

Of course, these are only some of the setbacks you may encounter over the course of your fitness journey.

There are so many other obstacles you might face — but remember most of them are temporary.

How To Overcome A Fitness Setback - Picture Panel 2 - Desktop

Overcoming your setback

Acknowledge the setback, accept it for what it is and make peace with it — whether you got there by chance, an accident or your own doing — it happens! 

Focus on what you will do next. 

Make a plan

A goal without a plan is simply a wish.

Do you want to work out a certain number of times each week? Or maybe you want to work towards lifting a heavier weight? Define your goal, then make a plan to achieve it.

Make sure your plan is realistic and break it down into smaller steps that are within your reach — and most importantly, stick with it!

Get organised

So, your goal is set, your plan is detailed — it’s time to get organised.

You might set your alarm early to squeeze in an early workout, pencil time into your diary for your sweat session, or pack your gym bag the night before.

Find a support network

A supportive network around you can make all the difference — whether that’s having someone to keep you accountable or to motivate you when you need it most.

A support network can include a partner, your parents, siblings, wider family, friends or the Sweat Community.

Speak up and get help 

Sometimes setbacks can be overwhelming and in these instances, it can help to seek support or advice from someone within your support network or a medical professional. 

Find your why

Why did you start working out in the first place? If you can rediscover your “why?” —  your reason for wanting to exercise (and this can change over time!) — you can reignite your inspiration.

You might rediscover your “why?” through journaling, visiting the Sweat forum, or reading inspiring tips

Exercise discipline 

Fitness isn’t always easy, but you can make the choice to show up and do your best every day. Think of discipline like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Sweat is about so much more than your workouts

Feel your best - inside AND out

Don’t give up

Everyone faces challenges and setbacks, but you can become a stronger person when you maintain a positive outlook and overcome them.

The key is to break your goals down into actionable steps so that you get back into your regular workout routine.

Have you experienced a setback? How did you overcome it? Comment below!

Sweat logo

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.


Recommended Stories

We have a feeling you’re going to love Sweat

That's why the first week is on us.