How to Start Working Out…Again

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Young Man Lying on an Exercise Mat Lifting a Dumbbell

Keep going lad!

We all change, though we might not admit it, and the days of working out, staying in shape and generally being active are often replaced by bourbons, endless repeats of Top Gear on Dave and a merging of our fat and muscles.

But what if you want to change back again? You used to workout, you stopped, but you want to return?

Let’s start with a big dollop of realism.

Be realistic

ronaldo lima luis injury inter milan

Image source: Project CC
The pain of a ruptured tendon.

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, otherwise known as Fat Ronaldo, is one of my favourite footballers of all time. However parts of his career were plagued with injury; namely his knee. Every time he got injured, he wasn’t quite the same player. And just as you have aged, and your body has changed, you won’t be able to workout in the same way.

This is the same for pros and amateurs alike. If you could lift X weight back when you were at your fittest, you won’t be able to do it now that you have a belly full of digestives, or after you have come back from a serious injury.

So in everything you do, you need to be realistic, and set the bar at a level you can reach, not one you used to be able to just about touch. This refers to planning, your diet, your workouts themselves and the results you are looking to achieve.

Make a workout plan, and be willing to change it

12 weeks seems to be the golden time period when it comes to writing about fitness, and when it comes to diet and training, there is a good reason. 12 weeks offers a period that is long enough for progress to be made, but short enough so that the end is in sight.

What you do with a 12 week plan is key. In basic terms, you want to work each muscle group once per week, and give yourself time to recover. If you are looking to lose weight over gaining muscle, then you need to look at HIIT, as it is far superior for fat loss, and again give yourself time to recover. Just don’t overtrain, or you’ll be back to square one.

If, with your best intentions you make a plan, and it doesn’t fit in with your life, you find it too hard, or even too easy, then be willing to adapt. Your body is not the same as it was before, so you’ll have to make a lot of decisions on the fly.

Eat right, but perhaps not right away

Cropped image of hand holding healthy granny smith apple over white background

An apple a day…(probably not the best approach based on the sugar content, but you get the idea)

“Starting my diet Monday” is a phrase that most people have heard, or even uttered. But in reality, how often does ripping up the rule book and completely starting again actually work?

The chances are, that in your time off from fitness and eating clean, you have embraced the way of the biscuit. If you are going back to the way of working out, then you need to embrace your macros (stick to a 40/40/20 split of protein, carbs and fat to begin), cut down on sugar and get all the nutrients you can.

Protein shakes are a good way to keep in this rough range, but changing from average eating to awesome eating will take time. So give yourself time, cut down bit by bit, and don’t make things more difficult than they need to be.

Sleep, and sleep well

Proper sleep means proper recovery.

Or to put it a bit more specifically, your body is going to be under increased strain, so you need to optimise the period where it will naturally get rest. Failure to do so will mean workouts feeling more difficult, which will mean less enjoyment, which will mean you’ll probably go back to biscuits, and in turn, the world will end.

Granted, that might be a bit over the top, but the logic is there. So have a good kip, get a good evening routine and the rest will fall into place.

Prepare for disappointment

nearly 180

My best effort so far…

I like darts. I recently started playing it, a lot. However, after watching Van Gerwen hammer in 180 after 180, I was barely able to muster a 20. Disappointed? Of course. But I expected it, and carried on, and I have improved. Give it 200 years and I might get there.

You see, not everything goes immediately to plan. Nothing ever does. So realise that there will be times, whether it’s a niggly injury or a weight you thought you’d be able to lift, when your patience is wearing thin.

Find yourself support and motivation

Remembering why you returned to HMS Fitness is a great way to keep going, but you should give yourself more anchoring than that.

Friends are great foils, and make you workout because it impacts on them. (Though the pros and cons of a workout buddy might mean you are better off alone.)

Together or solo, find a motivational technique that works for you. Whether it’s a science backed productivity hack, or something a bit more alternative; you should find a catalyst to keep on going.

Most of all…have fun

Yes you want to live longer, not be ill and you probably want to look a certain way, but make sure you enjoy it as much as possible. Join a gym with a sense of community, create workouts with targets and don’t turn it all into a chore.

Take it slowly, keep it sensible, keep it simple and try not to watch as much Dave. Good luck!

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