How to Get Back to Working Out After You Took a Break from the Gym

If you've fallen off the fitness track, don't be dismayed. These tips and exercises to get back in shape will help you ease your way back into working out.

a woman sitting down to tie her shoe before a walk or run, presumably doing exercises to get back in shape
Photo: Shutterstock.

Getting back into working out when you've taken time off is intimidating, and you might be tempted to jump in and go right back to your pre-hiatus routine. The problem is, this sets you up to get burnt out quickly, so it's a better option to return to a workout program in a progressive manner. Remember: It's all about baby steps.

Keep in mind that your level of progression is largely based on your total time off, the reason for the break (surgery, work, children), and your level of fitness prior to it. If you start off by placing too large of a demand on your body, you run the risk of injury and a quick regression backward. Being so sore the next day that you are hobbling down the stairs does not indicate a quality workout. (

Exercises to Get Back In Shape

Here are three types of exercises to back in shape and that can ease you back into your gym routine. Take time to progress, and you'll be feeling stronger in no time.

Start with Flexibility and Mobility Workouts

Your first progressive step forward should be to integrate a couple days of flexibility and mobility workouts into your week, in order to increase blood flow and circulation. These workouts also assist in progressing your range of motion and joint mobility. Flexibility and mobility can decrease your chance of injury, so it's important to get into the habit of performing these workouts so that your body can properly readjust to the new demands that will be placed on it as you do more exercises to get back in shape. (Here's the lowdown flexibility and mobility, including tips on increasing your mobility.)

Start with this flexibility test to see where you're at — you might want to repeat the test daily or weekly to measure your progression. If you have access, you could also sign up for a flexibility or beginner yoga class. If not, you can simply select 10 to 15 stretches, performing each flexibility movement for up to one minute. And maybe incorporate these stability and mobility exercises into your routine as well.

Add In Some Easy Cardio

Next, depending on your schedule and time commitment, try incorporating light cardiorespiratory workouts after a couple of stretching or yoga sessions. If weather permits, a brisk 20-minute outdoor walk will help invigorate your mind and get your body moving again. If you'd rather stay inside, the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike are great indoor alternatives. And if you had a well-established fitness base prior to a month-long break, your first week may include light jogging as opposed to walking — but remember not to push yourself too hard. (Other options: try this low-impact HIIT workout for beginners.)

Finally, Start Strength Training

After the first week of flexibility and light cardio, start to incorporate strength workouts into your routine. Your time away from fitness probably involved a lot of sitting, which causes weakness in your posterior chain. These muscles are important for basic everyday movement, as well as keeping your spine erect when at your desk. So at this point in your new routine, you should consider incorporating these exercises to improve posture, develop core strength, and activate muscles throughout your gluteus and hamstring regions.

Exercises such as squats, lunges, bridges, TRX hamstring curls, stability ball mobility, and core work will help to activate these areas. TRX workouts and bodyweight workouts are ideal for working these muscles, and they create a safe transition back into your fitness regimen because you can work within your own fitness level. (Try this total-body TRX workout to start.)

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles