Been away from the gym for a while? Getting back into a gym routine can feel quite daunting – but trust us, it’s easier than you think to re-establish fitness habits.
Whether you’re coming back after a long break or a short stint away, there are some easy ways to make sure you enjoy the experience – and, most importantly, avoid injury.
To help ease you back into a comfortable and effective workout routine, we’ve compiled a list of simple hints and tips to bear in mind as you prepare to return to the gym.
Give yourself enough time
After time away from the gym, it’s important to give yourself enough time to safely work out.
Add at least an extra half hour to your first session, so you get plenty of time to re-familiarise yourself with the gym setup. If you’re unsure about anything or need advice, it might be worth booking a PT session, to help you get comfortable again with the equipment.
Remember, returning to the gym is also an opportunity to try something new. You can put a totally different routine in place, or just make some tweaks to what you did before – different equipment, for example. Or you could kickstart your new fitness routine with an exercise class.
Make sure you stretch and warm up correctly
Even if you’ve been diligently working out at home, putting in the miles or easing back into playing organised sport, it’s likely that when returning to the gym, you’ll be using muscles that you’ve not used for a while.
This makes warming up and stretching vitally important to help you steer clear of injury. If you’re planning on having a weights session, consider warming up with body weight exercises to ready your muscles for the stress of lifting weights. If it’s an intense cardio session you’ve been looking forward to, then allow yourself time to go through a range of stretches, including dynamic stretches, to ensure your muscles are ready for action.
Take it easy – don’t push yourself too hard
Once you’re in your training kit and in the gym again, it can be easy to go too hard too soon.
With weight training in particular, it’s a good idea to ease yourself gently back in. Trying to work out at the same intensity and frequency as before could result in soreness or injury. Whether you’re new to the gym or looking to get back towards a previous level, starting with lower weights and a lighter schedule will give your body a chance to get used to the load you’re placing on it.
According to a study by researchers at the University of Leeds, taking an extended break from exercise can deactivate a blood flow sensor, meaning restricted blood flow to muscles. That means starting exercise again can feel difficult, even if you’ve retained muscle mass. Be kind to yourself and trust that with regular workouts, you’ll soon regain – and perhaps even improve on – your previous fitness level.
Make time for rest and recovery
It might be tempting to rush back to the gym and to work out every single day if you’re keen to hit the ground running with fresh impetus. But this could be detrimental to your body, so make time for rest periods to allow your body to recover from the stress of each session.
It’s also important to get enough sleep to give your body the best possible chance of recovering from any soreness or tiredness you may be feeling and to avoid a fitness plateau.
Pick your time of day
Some people find they do their best workouts as part of their morning routine. Others find they have more energy in the evening. Taking the time to decide the right time of day for you to exercise can make your gym visits much more enjoyable – and that makes it more likely that you’ll keep coming back!
When trying to develop a routine of going to the gym and embarking on a new fitness journey, being organised and bringing the correct clothing and equipment can give you a clear mind to get the most from each session.
Remember to bring a water bottle, wear comfortable, lightweight clothing and ensure you wear trainers that fit well and give you the necessary level of support. Treating yourself to some new sportswear or a shiny new pair of trainers can give you an extra bit of motivation or confidence to stick to your plan and reach your goals.
And finally, just enjoy it!
Try not to worry too much about your fitness level, your goals and targets for the first few times you head to the gym. Forget about the pressure of end goals or reaching a level you were capable of before.
Instead, focus on getting into the groove of using the correct technique, and simply enjoying being in the gym, working out alongside fellow members with state-of-the-art equipment. You’ll feel good and enjoy the positive endorphins a great workout can provide you with.
Enjoy listening to music when your work out? Check out our ‘Back to the gym’ playlist for some extra motivation.
With state-of-the-art gyms in our clubs around the UK with personal trainers and a wide variety of equipment. Find your nearest gym today.