Everybody goes through a phase where they don't exercise. For some it is planned, and others it happens unexpectedly. For instance, bodybuilders typically take a week, sometimes two, off after they've dieted down 10-12 weeks for a contest to try and give their bodies a chance to rebound. Another unfortunate scenario that I can relate to is experiencing a major injury (Bicep tendon rupture). Injuries requiring surgery will take some time to bounce back from but based on conversations I've had with a few orthopaedic surgeons, the sooner you become mobile, the better! The last reason for a layoff is: life happens! And you can insert any life event or excuse here. The reality is that exercise is one of the first things to be removed in our lives when things get hectic. Which doesn't really make much sense if you think about it. Studies have shown that exercise gives you more energy, improves mental clarity, relieves stress, boosts self confidence, and the list goes on...so why do we neglect it? Well, each situation is unique in it's own sense, but in most cases it's just pure laziness. With that said, if you're trying to make a comeback, here are 5 tips to help you hit the ground running.
1.) Be Patient: Rome was not built overnight, and the physique you're aspiring towards won't be either. You most likely will not see a cosmetic change for 3-4 weeks into resuming exercise. However, the non-visual effects of exercise (muscle tightness, increased energy,etc.) will begin within a workout or two.
2.) Progress Slowly: I know how gung-ho you all are to conquer your fitness goals but doing too much, too soon will only lead to you getting burnt out or injured. Instead, make small improvements every single workout and set short term goals.
3.) Have Supporters: In any endeavor, fitness related or unrelated, it is important to have a network of people who are behind what you're trying to accomplish. With a fitness goal, there will be sacrifices you'll have to make to attain it, and having people in your life that are making the same sacrifice will only make it easier to follow through on.
4.) Don't Solely Rely on Cardio: I see far too many people think they're going to lose 50lbs. just by walking on the treadmill. Sure, the treadmill is a good tool to include in your exercise program but with cardiovascular exercise you're only getting the aerobic (endurance) component of working out and neglecting the different parts of the muscular system. Our muscles are responsible for the locomotion transferred to the bones and play a huge role in keeping our spines aligned and in good posture. They also are responsible for turning your metabolism into a furnace. For every single pound of lean muscle that you add, your body will burn an extra 50 cals./day at rest! The only way to add lean muscle is through strength training. Strength training is anaerobic (without oxygen) and can be performed in a variety of ways. Body weight exercises, free weight exercises, and resistance bands all constitue forms of strength training.
5.) Seek out the Guidance from a Professional: Every single one of you has something that you're particularly good at (whether you know it or not), and it's not realistic to think you can possibly know everything about all things. There is no shame in asking for help. If anything, it is a sign of your intelligence. A GOOD personal trainer should be able to design a workout program that is safe, effective, and enjoyable for you. You should also feel comfortable around this person as your workout is the time to be selfish and focus on yourself!
About the Author
Gym Owner and Personal Trainer, Keith Diedrich has a B.A. in Exercise Science and has been professionally involved in health and fitness in various capacities since 2005.
"My initial thought about Keith was that he seemed very casual and not as frenetic as other professionals. I quickly learned that he was gauging my stamina, movements, and technique. He wasn't after a fast burnout, but he wanted to exhaust every muscle every time. He said we were working on a "mind to body connection." With this connection I'd be able to gauge whether a set was 15 reps or 20 reps regardless of the initial "goal of 15!" I believe much of my gains came from Keith always seeing my potential even when I couldn't." ~ Saul "Mr. Biceps"