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How to Start Exercising Again After Taking a Break from the Gym

It happens to everyone. You could be a fitness fanatic who hits the gym five times a week, and then suddenly you fall off the wagon. Whether it was a monthlong Netflix binge, an illness, an injury, or a super-busy period at work that derailed you, you absolutely can and should get back on the wagon. The bad news: If you took a significant amount of time off from working out, you likely lost some of the gains you made in the past. In this case, it's key to safely ease back into working out, rather than jump back in where you left off. (See: How Long Does It Actually Take to Get Out of Shape?)

This gentle, total-body strength workout from Nike master trainer Rebecca Kennedy is the perfect gym comeback workout. You'll work on strengthening your core as well as mastering some basic functional movements to prime your muscles for your workout renaissance. (And if you were sick, follow these tips to start exercising again, illness-free.) You'll be back on the bench again—and crushing it—before you know it.

How it works: Work through each of the following moves for the amount of time indicated.
You'll need: A dumbbell and a plyo box

Cat-Cow

A. Start in tabletop position on hands and knees with a neutral spine.
B. Inhale and arch back, lifting tailbone and looking up toward the ceiling.
C. Draw belly button to spine and arch back arch in the opposite direction while dropping head.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Bird Dog

A. Start in tabletop position on hands and knees with a neutral spine. Extend left arm forward, bicep by ear and right leg backward, parallel with the ground, to start.
B. Draw the left elbow to right knee underneath belly button.
C. Extend left arm and right leg to return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Fire Hydrant to Donkey Kick

A. Start in tabletop position on hands and knees. Lower onto the left elbow to start.
B. Keeping knee bent at 90 degrees, lift right leg out to the side until parallel to the ground.
C. Lower right knee next to left without touching right knee to the ground.
D. Kick right leg straight back with foot flexed.
E. Draw right knee next to left to return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Down Dog to Spiderman Plank

A. Start in downward-facing dog, with hands and feet on the ground, hips reaching toward the ceiling to form an upside-down "v" shape.
B. Lower hips to plank position while drawing right knee to right elbow.
C. Step right foot next to left foot while lifting hips to return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds, alternating sides.

Skater Lunge

A. Stand with feet wide, holding a dumbbell horizontally in front of chest.
B. Shift weight to the left, bending left knee while straightening right leg to lower into a lateral lunge.
C. Shift weight to the right, bending right knee while straightening left leg to lower into a lateral lunge.

Continue alternating for 45 seconds.

Goblet Squat

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, grasping one end of a dumbbell with both hands in front of chest.
B. Hinge at the hips and bend knees to lower into a squat.
C. Straighten legs while driving hips forward to return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Russian Twists

A. Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet hovering off the ground, holding both ends of a dumbbell.
B. Twist torso to the left, lowering dumbbell toward the floor, then return to starting position.
D. Repeat, rotating torso and lowering dumbbell to the right. Return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Triceps Dip

A. Start with feet together, knees bent, hands resting on a plyo box or bench behind back with fingers facing forward.
B. Bend elbows straight back, lowering until bent at about 90 degrees.
C. Squeeze triceps to straighten elbows and return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds.

Incline Push-Up

A. Start in a plank position with hands on a plyo box or bench.
B. Bend elbows to lower chest in a push-up.
C. Push away from the box to return to starting position.

Continue for 45 seconds.

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