Having Trouble Getting Back Into Your Workout Routine After a Few Weeks Off? These 7 Tips Can Help You Restart

You were rocking a regular workout routine, but now? Not so much. Or maybe you trained for an event but then, after a week of recovery time, you’re finding it difficult to get back into the groove.

Whatever might have tanked your consistency, you’re certainly not alone.

“Give yourself some grace if you’ve fallen out of the workout habit, this is a very common situation,” says Carol Mack, DPT, CSCS, a strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist. “Even if it’s a few weeks off, all is not lost. The first workout back will feel tough, but most people regain their fitness relatively quickly. You won’t be totally back to square one.”

Experts In This Article

In terms of what can help nudge you into that first sessionโ€”and beyondโ€”here are some expert tips for how to restart your workout routine.

1. Understand what caused the delay

Your step away from regular workouts may be easy to pinpoint, such as a surge in work duties or sudden family obligations. But if it’s not so clearcut, try taking a moment to think about what prompted the break, suggests Rocky Snyder, CSCS, certified strength and conditioning specialist and author of strength training guide Return to Center.

“If you get a true understanding of why it happened, you might be able to avoid it happening in the future,” he says. “This is not to say that taking a break is bad. In fact, I highly recommend it. It’s a good idea to schedule yourself an ‘off season’ and go enjoy doing other physical activities for three to four weeks, then get back in to your training routine.”

However, if you’re not doing any activity at all in that off season, delving into the factors for that slowdown can go a long way toward keeping you on track going forward.

โ€œGive yourself some grace if you’ve fallen out of the workout habit, this is a very common situation. Even if it’s a few weeks off, all is not lost.โ€ โ€”Carol Mack, DPT, CSCS

2. Create a realistic schedule

Not only are you going to get back to exercise, but you’ll work at it harder than ever, maybe every day, despite your packed schedule. Sound familiar? That type of mindset is ferociously counterproductive because it creates high expectations and feelings of overwhelm, Mack says. Yet it’s common because people feel like they need the intensity of an all-or-nothing approach.

It may even work in the short term, but if you’re going for consistencyโ€”which should be your top goalโ€”then it’s helpful to be realistic about what fits into your schedule.

“I work with many people who try to do too much, too quickly, and they can’t sustain that,” Mack says. “Sticking with a routine or shorter workouts that you can do multiple times a week works better for most people.”

3. Go light to ease back in

In addition to fitting your sessions into an existing schedule, Mack suggests doing at least a few workouts that are downshifted from what you’d been doing previously. For example, if you used to run three miles a day, try doing a mile that combines walking and runningโ€”or simply walk insteadโ€”as a prompt to get you moving.

For coming back to strength training, she advises doing a circuit without weights, so you’re using bodyweight only. This will help engage your muscles again without the kind of stress that comes with overdoing it.

4. Try new classesโ€”the more unfamiliar the better

Maybe you fell out of the habit of exercising because you weren’t feeling challenged or your routine became…well, too routine. If that’s the case, spark some excitement by trying an entirely new type of movement, suggests strength and conditioning coach Reda Elmardi, CSCS.

Even better: Take a class or joint a group, because not only does that give you proper instruction, but the energy of being around other students can feel uplifting.

That might mean aerial yoga, modern dance, water aerobics, a running club, indoor rock climbing, tai chi, group fitness training, pickleball, or anything that’s at least a bit out of your usual comfort zone.

“Staying motivated is much easier when you enjoy what you’re doing,” Elmardi says. “Also, if you try different workouts, you might find a new one that you love. A diverse workout mix keeps your exercise thrilling and involves various muscle groups, too, so you have more well-rounded fitness.”

5. Set a due date

Getting back into a workout routine can be its own reward, but if you need more of a push, consider signing up for an event or trip that gives you a workable deadline, says Lindsay Ogden, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Life Time and co-host of the podcast Two Dumbbell Blondes.

“I’m not normally a fan of setting a ‘finish line’ for health pursuits, but if you feel like you’re in a rut, sometimes setting a date for a trip, race, or competition can help you refocus and create more of a clear plan to get there. It can help create momentum not only into that due date, but also beyond it.”

โ€œIf you try different workouts, you might find a new one that you love. A diverse workout mix keeps your exercise thrilling and involves various muscle groups, too, so you have more well-rounded fitness.โ€ โ€”Reda Elmardi, CSCS

6. Ditch the comparisons to your past self

Even if you’ve only taken a couple weeks off, it’s easy to feel disheartened when you think back to how on target you used to be, according to Melissa Boyd, CPT, a certified personal trainer and coach for fitness app Tempo.

“Strength and conditioning come back fast, but the worst thing you can do is expect yourself to be exactly where you were before your break,” she says. “Often, the rest and recovery can be great for your fitness and gains.ย Give yourself some time to build back up and really focus on form and control. You may even be stronger in the long run thanks to that time off.”

7. Track your progress and celebrate milestones

Once you do begin again, prevent future delays by establishing consistency. For that, Elmardi advises tracking details of your workouts, including how you felt after exercising. Setting short-term and long-term goals is also helpful, in part because it gives you the opportunity to appreciate those milestones, he adds.

“By acknowledging these advancements, it makes activity more interesting and helps you monitor your progress,” he says. “Most of all, it sets up accountability and responsibility for yourself, and keeps your motivation going.”

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