After time out from their sports and in the case of the last two, having put on some serious weight. The hardest part of returning to your best physical self after time off is taking the first step, here’s our guide.
Getting back into exercise is never easy, but how to get back on track with diet and exercise is a feat that is doubly difficult. The most important thing is not to go too hard too soon as this is going to increase the likelihood of a crash and burn, returning to your old habits in no time.
# Choose your goals
Decide what it is you want from your new lifestyle. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to gain strength? Do you want to gain muscle mass? Whatever your desired outcome, you should tailor your activity and diet plan accordingly.
If you are looking to lose weight, begin by switching to a plant heavy, whole food diet plan before you begin counting calories. In fact, if you are about to pick up your exercise levels to a high output, it might be wise to keep your current calorie level intact your body adjusts to it (two weeks or so).
The first week you may just want to perform a very low rep range calisthenics (body weight exercise) routine in your room, such as a press ups or squats, with two light jogs or swims thrown in over a seven-day period. Each week step up the rep range and intensity. After week two you can start throwing in some more challenging work, such as completing your calisthenic rep ranges at a faster pace or beginning to sprint your pool lengths or sections of your jog.
But remember, never ever give up proper form for speed or extra repetitions.
If you want to gain muscle mass, calisthenics will work too, but eventually you’re going to want to hit the weights room. We’d always recommend a 6-week calisthenics routine before beginning to lift weights. However, in using the resistance your own body provides first, you’ll build stronger foundations before using extra weight.
# Set times and stick to them
Timing is everything. Setting routines sets a rhythm, and that will make everything fall into place. This starts with your sleeping pattern. While some of you may have to adjust to shift work in your profession, it is always best to try sleeping and waking up at the same time. This gets your circadian rhythm (your internal clock) working optimally.
Regarding meal times and exercise, try to eat an hour after waking and stop eating at least two hours before bed. Drink plenty of water, around two to three litres a day, and around a pint to a litre over an hour of exercise. Your training times are up to you, but a favourite of ours is ‘fasted cardio’ first thing in the morning, before breakfast, and then a strength and conditioning routine after work, before your evening meal.
If you train twice a day, keep each session below 45 minutes.
# Slow and steady wins the race
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sculpted pectorals, although he may have benefitted from illegal substances – don’t do it – his heart issues in later life have been a regular occurrence among steroid users from during his era.
There is no quick fix to getting in shape. While these 30-day reboot plans are helpful, you aren’t going to look like the model in the photo by the end of them. This doesn’t mean following a pre-written plan isn’t a good idea. You might not get the unrealistic results they promise, but they are often designed in a clever and functional way to build up your routine over the 30 or 60 days.
# Think month to month, not day to day
Don’t expect to be winning a marathon three weeks after a six month lay-off. But, do set goals. Try and add reps to your strength and conditioning exercises day to day, even if it’s just a few more reps. Try and cover more distance in your jogs or speed up the time it takes you to sprint 100 metres. Ultimately, look at how you are progressing from month to month, not day to day. The best way to do this is to build little by little and write down your repetition or distance increases.
# Take a picture at the end of each week, but compare at the end of each month
Writing down your improvements helps you keep track of your statistical increases, but pictures will help you see your aesthetic development as you follow your diet and routine. While you might not get much enjoyment from your initial picture, it will provide a reference point to show you how far you’ve come over the coming months. This will bring much pleasure and sense of achievement as you progress. Take a picture every week or two weeks.
Getting back into a training routine is horrible, especially if you’ve gotten out of shape and feel sluggish and lacking motivation, but the first step is recognising you’ve slipped. Start slow, schedule and stick to your plan and before you know it, you’ll be back on form.