1. Start Slow
Exercise should always be first and foremost about working at your own pace. At the end of the day, if you’re only just getting back into your training it can be a good idea to evaluate what your aims are. Even for people with Olympic dreams, going from zero to one hundred can result in a myriad of issues, including injuries, bad technique and posture and quitting before the finish line.
If you exhaust yourself in the early stages then that can often be the perfect way to put yourself off training for good. For those with modest health and fitness consciousness, remember that exercise is about getting your heart rate up, burning calories, trimming fat and keeping your muscles active. Take a serious look at your activity prior to your return. There is a good chance that if you were living an inactive lifestyle that taking things at a less taxing pace will, in the long run, provide you with the building blocks for a brighter future.
Master your technique for lifts and learn your recovery capacity after cardio exercise. Don’t worry: the hard work is still to come.
2. Do It, Don’t Think It
Making a plan and sticking to it is a good way of eliminating the question of motivation. Sure, you might well have good intentions on day one but training is about the long term. You may have a target weight or size in mind for a specific deadline but if you don’t stick to a program all that good work will end up being for nothing.
The trick is to not think – the easiest thing of all to say and not do. But one thing you can do is put measures in place to eliminate as much thinking as possible. This is where a personal trainer can be of great help, but if you have the know-how already, devise your week’s workout and stick to it.
Write it in a notebook or on your smartphone, detailing what you will be doing when, how many sets, reps, weights and distances. Routine is everything. Stick to it as you would to your calendar of work deadlines. You can also take this one step further by charting your progress so that you needn’t concern yourself with how you are developing; instead, simply add it to your list of exercises. It will be with hindsight that you realize how effective this handy tip is.
3. Do Your Own Workout
Exercise is never one-size fits all. It can be very easy to slip into someone else’s idea workout, whether from taking non-holistic advice or passively observing others at the gym. What works for one person may not work the same for you. We are all following the same guidelines set out by science where cardio training will result in a healthier heart, lungs, system and endurance, and resistance training will strengthen, build and tone muscles, but the number of ways to do that is entirely open for picking.
Here is where you should refer to the previous point of devising a plan and making it routine. Draw up a list of goals and research how you can train to achieve them. Rinse, wash and repeat. Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing.
4. Strike A Balance
We’re not just talking about posture. Though while we’re on the subject, a well-balanced regimen that targets all areas of strength will indeed help with your balance and posture. Striking a balance means spreading your workouts between cardio, resistance training and plyometric exercises.
5. Look At The Whole Picture
Exercise all muscle groups, including the ones behind you. With the right workout plan this shouldn’t be a concern, but in case this comes as news to you, it is simple: your workout plan needs to include exercises that target all of your muscle groups at some point in the week. This may be obvious in its rationale; this ensures overall strength and proportion.
For many people, a common mistake is to only exercise what you can see in front of you in the mirror, or what you are good at. Many of your biggest muscle groups are behind you – make sure you view your body as a whole.
6. Look Beyond Weight Loss
When getting back to the gym, weight loss is a perfectly good reason, and you will likely find many people around you are thinking along the same lines. Weight loss should not be your only thought, though. In fact, you may be missing out on a much more fun and effective workout by including resistance training as well as calorie burning exercises.
Not to mention that cutting down in your diet can also have a negative impact on your exercise in terms of endurance and strength if you are not getting the protein and energy that you need.
It is easy to have a one-track mind when getting back into a workout routine, especially for people that are so keen they don’t stop to take a pause and analyse what’s working and what isn’t. We said previously that not over-thinking can be an effective way to avoid a lull in motivation, and this is not contradictory of that. What it means is evaluating your performance.
You will not enjoy every workout and exercise. You will develop strengths and favourites, but it is important to be conscious of how effective you find an exercise to be. Firstly, if you don’t pause to run a maintenance check you may find yourself with injuries or poor technique down the line. Secondly, there may be an exercise that targets the same muscle in a different way or a more effective form of cardio training that you are missing out on.