There are a lot of reasons someone takes a break from the gym. From injury to travel or wanting to take some time away to reset the body, there's no bad answer here. We all need a break. Even professional athletes have an off-season! But if you're getting back to a fitness routine after spending time away, there's a right — and wrong — approach. We sat down with Raphael Konforti, MS, CPT, and national director of fitness at Youfit Health Clubs, who gave us all the tips you'll need to get back to being you!
1. Overdoing Things
Your first instinct might be to make up for missed workouts. The truth is that exercise and a healthy lifestyle are much more about consistency than cycles of working really hard, then easing off. "Going all out on your workouts leads to burnout and another cycle of missing your workouts," Konforti told POPSUGAR. "To get long-term results, take your time getting back to your normal routine."
2. Spend Extra Time Warming Up
You wouldn't hop out of bed and go straight into a set of burpees, right? Taking a break from exercise isn't as dramatic of a transition, but it still means your body will need extra care and attention to get going. Traveling for vacation usually means lots of sitting and other positions that fold your body up like a beach chair. To counteract that, Konforti said to "spend extra time doing light stretches and low-intensity cardio during your warmup." You'll have a better gauge on how your body feels, reduce the chance of pulling a muscle, and have a more effective return to exercise.
3. Start with light full-body training sessions
We've all experienced how strange exercising feels after a long time off. Your body needs time to relearn the movements and fire up the right muscles and stabilizers. The best way to get your body working like a finely tuned engine is through a full-body workout that goes through each major movement like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows. "By engaging all of the big muscle groups, you're telling your body it's time to get back on track," said Konforti.
4. Don't Get Discouraged
It can be frustrating to get out of breath doing exercises you were cruising through just a couple weeks before. It's OK. According to Konforti, "It's natural for exercise to feel more challenging after a break." The good news is that due to muscle memory, you'll get back to that level of fitness faster than before. Focus on the positives — you're back in the gym and doing something good for your body.
5. Reactivate Your Core
Your core was probably hitting the snooze button a lot during your vacation (It's OK if you were too!), so it's time to wake it up. A strong core is at the center of every well-executed exercise. "To rebuild your stability and make your return to exercise easier, spend some time activating your core. Simple exercises like planks, side planks, or bird dogs fire up your core in just a couple minutes," said Konforti.