How to start working out again?

It’s been some time since your last workout.. Here’s some things to consider when you want to start exercising again.

1) If you’ve stopped exercising after a week, it is generally alright to start working out at the same level and intensity as you last had your workout. For all exercises, remember to warm up and stretch properly proper to working out.

2) ‘Delayed onset of muscle soreness’, or DOMs occur when you start exercising again after a long time – the amount of soreness and time (can be 1 or 2 weeks, or even 3 days for some people) differs from person to person. DOMs is when lactic acid gets into your muscles and your system take a longer time to flush it out as compared to when you were exercising. So start light and do more calisthenics and light resistance (10-12 repetitions with weights that you can carry for 15 reps (15 rep max). As you start exercising again, your system will be more efficient to flush off the lactate from your body.

3) If you have stopped exercising for 6 months, start slow – once or twice a week of exercise. Your body needs more rest, the longer you stopped exercising. You may want to consider incorporating Yoga or Pilates into your workouts to ease you into your fitness journey again.

4) For resistance training, do 10 compound exercises such as push ups, lunges, squats, lat pull down, shoulder press exercises. Also remember your core exercises such as crunches and lower back exercises. Do 10 to 12 repetitions with weights of 15RM. Gradually build that up.

5) For cardio, you can start with 4-5 times a week if you’ve stopped running for a week. If it’s more than a month, start with twice a week of slow jog and build that up. If it’s more than 6 month, start by doing a power walk for the first few sessions, then progressively up it to jogging for 10 minutes and more.

6) Join group exercises or fitness boot camps! This will improve your motivation levels!

7) Get doctor’s clearance – if you have been since your last exercise, especially if it’s a 6 month break.

8) Do a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to see the areas of what went wrong (why the long break) and what can be done better.

9) If you rush into your workout, you will burn out quickly, both psychologically and physiologically.

10) Use rate of perceived exertion – 1 being the easiest and 10 toughest, ask yourself – how tough am I exercising? You should be in the range of 5-7 if you have laid off working out for a week. If you’ve been sedentary for over a month, start with an RPE of 4 and gradually work it up to 8 or 9 over a 4-6 month period.

11) Plan your workouts properly – check your schedule and plan your workouts ahead!

12) Get a buddy – working out with a friend is always fun and takes away the boredom. Remember, your ipod can be a friend too.

13) Create a ritual – especially if you have stopped after 6 months! By planning and creating habits (that are fun), there’s a higher chance of you sticking to your exercise regime this time round!

14) If your body is too tired prior to a workout, you may lack rest or sleep. Don’t workout if your energy levels are too low, catch up on rest instead. Remember, exercising lowers our immune system temporarily, so if you’re too tired, rest and bring that up first!

15) Don’t rush it, start small – don’t jump into the same program that you last had. Drop it down many notches and ease into it your new program. If you overdo it, you may injure yourself.

16) Your muscles start to atrophy (grow smaller in size) after a week of not exercising, so lower the intensity when you start getting back to exercising as you won’t be able to carry the same load you had with your last workout.

17) Track your progress – by knowing where you’ve been, what you achieved and where you’re going – it creates a great motivational tool to push you to working out harder.

Sharm, MSc

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