This is how you start working out again after a break

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Here’s a little secret of mine about being a personal trainer: Despite fitness being at the center of my world, i’m a pretty uninteresting physical specimen. I’m not particularly strong, not exceptionally fast, not genetically gifted in any way. In fact, I’m not even That hard worker in the gym.

One thing I am, however, is consistent. In two decades I have rarely gone more than a few days without breaking a sweat.

That is until recently, when a series of nagging injuries conspired with a case of COVID-19 to put me on the shelf for just under a month. Even though my COVID symptoms were almost nonexistent, I listened to my doctor and took a break from education†

How do I maintain and gain muscle while losing weight? Eat more protein and add resistance exercises

I want to lose weight. Should I focus on diet or exercise?

It turned out that some free time was just what my body needed (imagine!); I recovered quickly from the infection and all those lingering injury-related aches and pains have mostly disappeared. Not long after, I even managed to complete a workout, my first in a month.

Thoughtful and consistent effort may be the not-so-secret recipe for achieving your fitness goals, but we need to make room for unplanned interruptions. Whether it’s an illness, injury, or a life event that takes up all of your mental and physical bandwidth, coming back from a lengthy layoff can be an arduous task. It doesn’t have to.

This is the strategy I use to rebuild all that lost momentum when my training schedule grinds to a halt.

Assess the situation

After recovering from COVID, my hands and wrists, my hips and knees – everything hurt. Those pains have since gone away, but the rust from all that inactivity needs to be addressed. This is why your first workout after a break really shouldn’t be a workout at all.

Instead, treat your return as a long, meticulous warm-up, one in which you pay extra attention to physical cues. How does your body feel? Slow and sluggish or responsive and ready? What about your head? Can you concentrate or is your mind distracted? Even if you are an advanced age to exercise, it is important to assess how your body will respond to minor stress before increasing the intensity.

In addition to assessing our body’s readiness, we also need to tap into that legendary mind-muscle connection. Basic mobility exercises are great for fine-tuning proprioception (the sense of awareness and control of your body as it moves through space), much like a light yoga session. Choose moves that target the hips, spine and shoulders, and move with purpose.

Work on your strengths

Maybe 15 minutes of exercise is all you have the energy for, and that’s okay. There is no need to rush into an elaborate routine right away. But after completing your assessment, as long as there are no red flags warning you to stop, try dipping your toes into the deep end of the pool.

How to get the most out of your workouts if you don’t have a trainer?

This is not the time to tackle a new goal or practice an unknown skill. What are your strengths? What exercises are you good at? Concentrate on that, on the understanding that you’re not going to set any world records just yet. Allow yourself a few wins before launching your official comeback.

Calisthenics and Deadlifts are my favorite methods. If I can complete a few sets of pull-ups without making my way to the bar, and if I can easily deadlift my body weight for 10 reps, then I know I’m ready to resume training. If my grip feels weak or I’m working my way through a set, I know I need more time. It’s so easy.

Take it easy

The human body can be unpredictable. One day you might feel like a million bucks, the next you might have trouble getting out of bed. This Jekyll and Hyde act can get worse with age and is even more pronounced after a illness or injury†

That is, take it easy. Minimizing your effort can be quite challenging, especially if you’re used to performing at a high level. But what’s worse is that you’re asking too much too soon.

Five things to know about warm weather workouts

A handful of short, successful sessions over the course of a week or two is the most productive approach. If this seems easy, well, that’s the idea.

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