Haven't worked out in a while? Haven't worked out EVER? Here's how to start (back) up.

If you haven't worked out in a while or are even starting for the first time, here's how to stay happy, safe, and successful.
Stewart Katzen
November 17, 2021

John Lennon once said that "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans," and this couldn't be more true when it comes to working out. Even the best workout plans get disrupted by work, family obligations, holidays, injuries, or just plain exhaustion. Starting back into a routine, or starting a routine for the first time, can be intimidating. How do you get back into the groove after some time off? Follow these tips to stay safe, sane, and successful on your journey back to health.

1. Anything Is Better Than Nothing

Working out often seems like an all-or-nothing proposition, and it's easy to get stuck believing that the only way to regain fitness is to do an overwhelming amount of exercise right off the bat. This couldn't be further from the truth. Any amount of exercise and movement will always be better than nothing at all. Only have 10 minutes a day to start off? Do 10 minutes of exercise and you'll be that much closer to being back in the groove. Don't have any time at all? Something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking just a few spots farther from your destination and walking the rest of the way can get your body used to moving again.

2. Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Especially for people who had a dialed-in workout routine before taking a break, it can be hard to avoid the temptation to come back working out just as much, and just as hard, as before. This can do more harm than good, though! If you come back too hard too soon, you risk injury and burnout. Come back slowly and re-establish your fitness baseline, and you'll be able to continue improving and regaining your fitness. A good rule is to start at no more than 50% of your old weight, speed, time, or distance during your first few workouts back. If you're recovering well at that intensity, then think about adding about 10% every other workout.

3. Consistency Is Key

It's easy to come back saying "I'm going to make up for lost time by working out twice as long as I used to," only to find yourself so sore that you need to take a week off to recover. This is a vicious cycle -- in that week, you'll lose any fitness you gained from that one workout and feel even more pressure to go even harder next time! Instead of trying to force yourself into a routine all at once, focus on a consistent workout routine instead of one or two extreme workouts per week. Starting off with 10 minutes of exercise 6 days per week will give you better results than performing 60 minutes of exercise 1 day per week. As your body gets accustomed to working out more often, you can start ramping up the intensity and duration every week or two, and you'll be back in no time.

4. Move Through Soreness, Rest Through Pain

Let's face it: if your body hasn't moved around in a while, you'll be sore for your first few workouts back. This doesn't mean you need to stop entirely after each workout, though. Are you sore after doing a leg workout yesterday? Walking a little more than usual or even doing a very light set of leg exercises today will actually help your body recover. If you're feeling injured, though, it's time to rest and seek medical attention. Muscles feeling weak and sluggish after a workout are signs of soreness and fatigue; muscles that give you shooting pains or arms/legs that can't straighten out without excruciating pain are signs of injury.


The most important part of making sure your return to working out is safe and successful is your recovery! At IBX, we end every workout with a dynamic cooldown and static stretching. This makes sure that your muscles are cooled down and limbered up so you can recover as quickly as possible. The other parts of a proper recovery are hydrating and resting. When you drink enough water and give your body enough downtime and sleep, your muscles are able to rebuild from the stress of the day's workout and make sure you're ready to go tomorrow.

What's Next??

Now that you've got a roadmap, it's the perfect time to start a journey with IBX! With a full schedule of scalable workouts, we can't wait to meet you wherever your starting point may be. Click here to get three classes for just $1!

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