Falling out of a routine can oftentimes be much easier than starting one. Life gets in the way, plans change, daily schedules or overall mentality may change, this happens to everyone and can easily derail a workout routine.
Fall can be a season for getting back into the swing of things; whether that be school, a normal workout schedule after summer vacations, or a gym routine after neglecting it during the beautiful days of summer. However, getting back to the gym can also be a daunting task. Building up the motivation or energy to get back, and knowing the soreness you may be feeling for a few days after, can be quite intimidating. Here are a few tips that might make getting back into your workout routine a bit simpler.
Start off Small: Jumping back into a 1 to 2 hour workout on your first day may not be the best strategy. Remember if you haven’t worked out in a while, or it’s your first day, certain muscles used during your workout may have not been used heavily in a while. Overdoing it will almost certainly guarantee you will be feeling sore the next day. Starting off with a 20-minute cardio or HIIT workout, or spending around 30 minutes doing a few light weight lifts. Use the first few days back to get back into a rhythm and used to working out. The last thing you want to do is to push yourself too hard right away, as that greatly increases the risk of injury. Then you can gradually build back up to longer workouts. It is also easier to manage 2 days a week to begin with, and add more workout days in as you build stamina. If you try to fit 5 workout days into your week right away, it may not work and you might be setting yourself up for failure.
Set SMART Goals: Set concrete goals that you can attain. Make them challenging but make them something you can definitely achieve. Losing 2 pounds a week is a challenging, yet attainable goal; losing 10 pounds a week would be extremely difficult to achieve without endangering your overall health. Setting goals that are too lofty can lead to being discouraged and may decrease motivation. Small, achievable goals will give you something to work towards, and achieving them will be a great confidence boost! We recommend setting “SMART” goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Take for example a goal for weight loss.
- “I want to lose weight.” - While a great goal to have, this leaves too many opportunities to stop short of achieving what you really have in mind.
- “I want to lose weight by eating healthier and exercising.” - By setting a specific goal, you can focus on exactly how you plan to achieve it.
- “I want to lose 15 pounds by eating healthier and exercising.” - Adding a measurable amount to your goal will help keep you on track, without it, it may be too easy to quit before you’ve reached what you’d initially set out for.
- “I want to lose 15 pounds by eating less junk food and exercising.” - This relevant addition will help keep you on track because you’re attempting to make a direct change to your diet.
- “I want to lose 15 pounds by next summer by eating less junk food and exercising.” - Setting a timeline helps push you to get started, and avoids the “I’ll start next week” mentality.
By changing “I want to lose weight” into “I want to lose 15 pounds by next summer by eating less junk food and exercising”, the goal has also become the beginnings of a plan. This will help get you started and keep you on track.
It also helps break the big goal into smaller ones. If you’re trying to lose 15 pounds it may seem like a massive undertaking, but 15 pounds in 8 months is less than ½ a pound per week. That smaller achievement every week will help keep you from feeling discouraged.
Set a schedule and stick to it: It’s very easy to say “I’m going to workout tomorrow morning”, and when tomorrow morning comes, snoozing the alarm clock for the 5th time is all too easy. We have a great post about how to make early morning workouts easier here.
Ignoring your schedule once can start a chain reaction, and skipping “just one more workout” can seem okay. While events do occur where you may miss a workout, try to get right back into your schedule when it happens, and don’t put it off until “next week”.
Knowing the time of day you’re most likely to stick to a workout routine is important too. If you are a night owl, planning early morning workouts may not be the best idea. Conversely, early birds may struggle to get through workouts planned at the end of their day. Whichever the case may be, stick to your schedule as best as you can, and being honest with yourself about when you’re most likely to workout will help. Another way to help in the beginning is finding a consistent workout partner. Having a workout partner makes you more likely to stick to your plan, as you will help keep each other on track. Little things like prepping your gym bag and bringing it with you to work, or setting your gym clothes out the night before for the morning can make it much easier to keep a schedule.
Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself into one type of workout: Variety will make every workout session feel like something new and should help you stay interested. Some people can fall off of their gym routine because they never change up their workouts, and it begins to feel more like a chore than it should. There is nothing worse than losing motivation because you’ve been doing the same 4 exercises every workout day for the past year, because that will inevitably get boring. While change may be scary for some things, changing your workout can be great. This can vary from day to day, or month to month. Try doing cardio 2 days a week and lifting 2 days, or just change what exercises you’re doing for different muscle groups every few weeks. Throwing in some CrossFit, yoga, or cycling classes can also help change the pace a bit and keep you mentally interested. These are all great options and will have you feeling excited for something new and fresh with each workout.
Reward yourself: Sometimes you may not have the motivation to workout, but you go and do it anyway. Those are the days when you may want to reward yourself with a little something. Knowing that you will be having a delicious protein shake or a favorite meal directly after your workout will help you push through. Maybe set up a cheat meal in your diet after one of the toughest workouts of the week. This can help by not only motivating you through the workout, but because your metabolism is highest after a hard workout, the cheat meal will have a less detrimental effect.
Be Patient and visualize your success: When it comes to working out, it is very easy to get caught up in the magical overnight weight loss stories seen on TV and Instagram that are simply not true. If there is one thing that exercise will help teach you that you can use throughout the rest of your life, it is patience. Muscles aren’t built overnight, and you cannot safely drop 20 pounds in a week with some magic pill or crazy diet. It is easy to give up if you don’t immediately see progress, but realize that it takes time. Each workout is small progress towards the end goal. Keep going and don’t imagine how you are going to look tomorrow; visualize how you will look 6 months from now if you keep pushing yourself.
Starting a new workout routine can be quite a task and requires a lot of willpower and dedication. Hopefully these tips will help you on your fitness journey.