An average individual has its routine filled with work tasks, family commitments, social gatherings, and more. With such a tight daily programme, it can be quite difficult to introduce something new or something we’ve once enjoyed. That’s why most of us usually sacrifice the activity we enjoy the least- exercising.
Perhaps it all started with a new job. One busy week turns into two, and before you know it, you haven’t gone to the gym in over three months. Now, you feel like it’s the right time to finally introduce physical activity to your schedule and start your active lifestyle again.
But how to get back on track after months or even years of physical inactivity? This is a troublesome question for many people. Even if you’ve found your motivation, you still need to restart your habits and build a healthy workout routine.
1. Find motivation
There is a thin line that separates a successful workout routine from the unsuccessful one. It lies within the motivation. When it comes to achieving your goals, the only thing that’s stopping you is yourself! If you’re prone to giving up, strong motivation and a wish to reach your goal are necessary.
To find the right approach to your new workout routine, you must determine where your motivation is coming from. Is there a wrong type of motivation? It’s the one that motivates you to quit. For example, your motivation lies within the popularity of working out and you don’t want to miss the trend. If that’s the case, you’re more likely to get bored and quit sooner or later.
How do I know my motivation is the right and healthy one? The answer is simple, you don’t want to achieve your goals to impress others, but to make yourself feel healthier and look better. If you put yourself first, you’re on the right path to success.
2. Set a SMART goal
Before you start working out, there is certainly a goal you want to achieve. Whether it’s weight loss, a healthier lifestyle, or muscle gain, you probably have some standards set for yourself. Specifying a certain goal is fine but is it enough to succeed? You need to set yourself a fitness goal you can easily achieve.
For better chances of accomplishment, setting a SMART goal is favorable. What is it and how does it help? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. It helps you achieve your goal by determining whether you can fit it in these criteria. For an easier and guaranteed success, you must follow the SMART scheme.
Start by writing your goals on a piece of paper. Then determine whether they are SMART. If they are not, modify them to fit the criteria. Re-do the process every time you specify a new target. Try not to start with one big objective. Break it down to a few, smaller ones. By achieving smaller goals, you can celebrate small victories!
3. Find a workout buddy
Starting a fitness routine can be daunting especially if you have no one to support you. Sometimes being your own support is hard. You feel like a rut and getting out of the bed seems like too much work. That’s why finding a fitness buddy is an ideal solution for a lack of motivation and will.
A fitness buddy can be a friend, partner or an acquaintance from the gym that will help you build and keep your workout routine. Your fitness buddy can be a regular gym-goer, or a beginner just like you. An experienced pal can familiarise you with the world of working out, while a newbie is there to support you and learn with you every step of the process.
Won’t they distract me from achieving my goals? If you find someone who is just as motivated as you are, they can help you achieve your goals faster. If the other person depends on you, you’re more likely to get off the couch and hit the gym.
4. Build your routine gradually
Achieving a goal is great, but taking care of your health and body is even more important. Whether you took a few weeks, months, or years off, you must implement exercises slowly. A strenuous workout after a long break can be dreadful for your body and muscles.
That’s why starting with a maximum of three full-body strength training per week, with a rest day between each training, is a way better idea than straining the body completely. Your muscles need time to recover from the sudden tiring physical activity after some time of being inactive.
Each training should contain some basic movements to build your muscles. Squats, hinges, lunges, vertical and horizontal pushes and pulls, and carries are necessary for strength and muscle building. As you gain more strength, every two weeks increase the weight, reps and add more exercises to your routine, and decrease the rest days in-between the training. This process might be slow, but it’s effective and minimises the risk of injury and pain.
5. Don’t forget about the rest days
Just as continuity is important, rest days are essential for your health as well. Muscle soreness is a natural part of the process, especially in the beginning. You don’t want to strain your muscles to the point you can no longer move your legs and arms, do you?
Sore body parts can cause a lack of motivation and affect your further performance. Taking a rest day now and then can only be beneficial for you. Even though a couch and a favorite telly series seem alluring, staying active during your rest days can help you tackle the next training with ease.
You don’t have to exercise. A calm walk around the neighborhood or an exciting hike on a nearby trail is more than enough to keep your muscles active but well-rested from the strenuous day at the gym. At the end of the day, don’t forget to get a good-night sleep. Sleep is an essential part of the body and mind recovery.
6. Eat well and stay hydrated
Skipping meals to achieve your goals is nowhere near a good strategy. It weakens your immune system making you prone to various diseases and viruses. That’s why combining a good workout plan with a healthy diet will help you achieve your goal more healthily and efficiently.
A healthy diet consists of a little bit of everything. Proteins, carbs, vitamins, minerals, etc, you’ve got to have it all. This doesn’t mean that you should stop consuming sweets completely. A piece of cake here or there won’t affect your body and weight but it will make you feel better.
A usually overlooked part of a healthy diet is drinking enough liquid. Drink approximately 2,5 litres of water or unsweetened tea daily, to keep your body fresh and moisturised. With each training, you are losing a lot of body water through sweat. That’s why it’s important to make it by drinking water or tea. In addition to that, you should avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. Aside from being unhealthy, it can harm your body in many other ways.
7. How stretching helps you
While working out, people usually tend to forget to stretch before and after the training. They want to get straight to the point to achieve their goals faster, without knowing how important a proper stretch is. However, if you ask the professional athletes, they’ll tell you that stretching is one of the most important parts of your workout routine.
Pre and post-workout stretch prepare your body for the training and help you cool down after the strenuous exercises. Everyone has their preferences, so only you know what kind of stretching works the best for you. While dynamic stretching helps you warm down, static stretching helps you relax your muscles after the training.
Besides that, doing light yoga exercises after each strength or cardio training is a perfect way to decrease soreness and inflammation. Breathing exercises and basic asanas can reduce anxiety and stress as well. So, don’t sleep on stretching. It’s highly beneficial for your body and mind.
8. Start with low-intensity training
Strength training and strenuous cardio aren’t meant for everybody. If you’re recovering from an injury or inflammation, starting big is the worst thing you can do for your body. Similarly, tiring and hard exercises can be dreadful for cardiovascular patients. Even if you don’t enjoy exercising, picking something low intensity, such as riding a bike, can be valuable for your health.
Riding a bike is the best exercise possible. It’s suitable for children, adults and even the elderly. It’s low-intensity meaning that it doesn’t burden your ankles and bones, but it builds your leg muscles and helps you fix your posture. However, if you haven’t ridden your bike in a while, it may need some fixing and cleaning before you start. To freshen up your ride, you’ll need to replace old parts with new, high-quality bicycle parts, such as pedals and tires. If you decide to try mountain biking, implementing only the best parts of your bike will keep you safer.
Besides riding a bike, swimming is amazing low-intensity training that develops your back muscles and arms. Combined with biking, these low-intensity training work on almost every muscle in your body, helping you lose weight and gain strength.
9. Do it for yourself and no one else
When you start working out again, you’ll need to put your needs, desires, and goals in the first place. Working out should be about making yourself feel more confident. No matter what other people say to motivate you or tear you down, your success and wellness come first this time.
Keep in mind that you’re exercising for yourself because you want to look better and healthier. With each completed training, remember that you’ve completed one small goal. It’s one step closer to your main goal, so celebrate it.
Don’t forget that healthy habits are formed with continuous work. So, the more time and effort you put into forming a healthy habit, the easier will it be.
After a long break of physical inactivity, getting back on track may seem hard or even impossible. The truth is you won’t be able to pick it up where you started. However, you can work towards building a new goal and a healthier lifestyle.
Even though this process takes more time, not giving up and finding the motivation to continue are essential parts of it. Take care of your body by working out, eating healthy food, and drinking plenty of water.
So, remember that you’re exercising for your good. Whether you choose to exercise at the gym, home, or outdoors, having a measurable and attainable goal is a key component of your success.