How to Get Back in the Gym

So, it’s been a while. Maybe you’ve been recovering from an injury, or life got in the way, or you were struck with a nasty bout of cant-get-off-the-couch-itis. Whatever the reason, there’s no time like the present to get back into the gym. Here are some tips for making it happen.

Schedule Your Sweat Session

Make time for your trip to the gym or you will keep finding reasons to put it off. Momentum is very real, both physical and psychological. If you’ve gotten into a pattern of not going to the gym, then you need to step in and stop the cycle. One of the best ways to do this is to schedule your gym time like you would schedule any other important appointment.

Start Small

Start with a short and sweet workout and have contingencies. Taking little steps is better than no steps at all, and it changes your path back toward a regular gym routine. What do we mean by contingencies? That means having a Plan B (and a Plan C) in case life gets in the way. It might look like this…

  • Plan A: Go to the gym and do 15 minutes of (insert exercise here).
  • Plan B: Walk or jog for 15 minutes at home.
  • Plan C: Do 2 minutes each of push-ups, crunches, and squats.

By taking this approach you have a small commitment that you can keep no matter what

Go Easy

Don’t go and make some herculean effort to slingshot yourself back into the gym. That’s how people get injured. Also, don’t assume that you can just walk in and do the same intensity/weight/duration you’ve always done. Trust us, you’ll pay for it. Getting injured or pushing the body too hard goes against what you’re trying to do. Be smart.

Instead of trying to be a cowboy (or cowgirl), work your way back up slowly and strategically. For example: if you lift, then do lighter weight and fewer reps for your first week or two back in the gym. From there you can start working your way back up.

Talk to a Pro

Do some exercise Q&A with your gym’s resident experts. This is a good idea for anyone to do periodically. You can evaluate yourself to make sure that you’re making progress and not hitting plateaus. It’s especially important if you’ve been out of the gym for a while. You can get some guidance on how to build your strength and stamina back up. If you’ve been out because of an injury, then you can also talk about exercises that can help you bounce back stronger than before.

SIDE NOTE: If you’ve been sidelined by an injury, then you should also have the exercise Q&A talk with your doctor. There are a lot of things you can do to keep up your gym habit even with an injury. There are also many exercises that – when done safely under a doctor’s supervision – can support your recovery. Muscle strength starts to nosedive after just 2 weeks of inactivity! Being sedentary is actually one of the WORST things you can do! Consider this: if you have, say, a shoulder injury, then you can still walk, ride a recumbent bike, and do lower body exercises. Talk to your doc about what’s safe and do that. You’ll feel so much better and it might actually help you recover faster.

Getting back into the gym can feel like a challenge, but you’ve totally got this. Do it smart, strategic, and slow. Before you know it your gym time will be a habit again and you’ll be on your way to achieving your fitness goals.