5 Tips for Regaining a Fit Physique
If you’re someone to whom fitness is important, then you don’t need to be told how dedicated you need to be in order to achieve real results. People devote years of their lives and many hours of their time to losing weight, getting healthy, and becoming stronger. Good habits develop as a result. However, even the most deeply ingrained good habits can be broken.
Most modern people lead incredibly busy lives, and sometimes life gets in the way of that fitness regimen you worked so hard to establish. At first, maybe an increasingly busy schedule stops you from making it to the gym once or twice. Then things escalate and continue to take even more time away from your workout routine. Before you know it, you’re completely off the wagon and out of shape, wondering what happened.
This is something that can and does happen to the best of us. However, it’s important to realize that it’s something you can come back from if you really put your mind to it. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Don’t underestimate what your body is capable of right now.
No, you’re not in the kind of shape you once were. Yes, you’ve probably got a long way to go before you’re back to where you want to be, and you won’t be able to pick up right where you left off. However, this doesn’t mean that you should work out as little as possible. To begin with, factors like muscle memory will make it easier for your body to bounce back than you might otherwise think.
You also have an advantage that you didn’t have the first time you got into shape. You actually know what it takes to get yourself into tip-top condition, so there’s no guesswork involved. You did it once. You can do it again.
- Keep the intensity level low at first.
In many ways, you’re where a beginner would be as far as strength training and general endurance are concerned. However, you can be sure that your progress will be much quicker this time around.
Gauge where you are currently by keeping the intensity level low at first. Lift or work out at about 50-60% of what you perceive your ability to be and take it from there. As long as you’re not totally hurting after your workouts, it’s not only okay to gradually up the intensity, but recommended.
- Understand the three stages of muscle building.
It takes the average person about a month to go from a sedentary fitness level to having light muscle mass. After about three months, that same person can expect to have achieved a moderate degree of muscle mass. As touched on above, a person who has muscle memory in their corner can expect to make progress more quickly, as the body remembers where it was once and will be better equipped to get back there.
This process generally takes place over three stages. They are as follows:
- Stage One: This is the “getting back in shape” phase. Ideally, it involves doing easier exercises, but at a high number of reps to help activate muscle memory.
- Stage Two: This is where you get into doing harder exercises, but at a median number of reps. Maximize the benefit you’ll get out of your workout by opting for compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups. Pull-ups, dips, and squats are just a few examples.
- Stage Three: Here’s where more advanced exercises can be safely introduced. Go with lower numbers of reps so that you can use higher amounts of weight – the best combo for rebuilding muscle structure and improving overall strength.
You’ll be seeing (and feeling) yourself improve before you know it.
- Don’t forget to take nutrition into account.
As you no doubt already know, your actual workout is only half of the equation when it comes to getting into shape. Nutrition is the other half, and a very important one at that. Even the best, most ideal training routine isn’t going to help you get back to where you want to be if you’re not supporting your body via a proper diet.
The chances are pretty good that if you’ve stopped working out, then you’ve also lapsed in regards to healthy eating habits. It’s time to get back on track by recommitting yourself to a diet that is roughly 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 20% fats.
You’ll also need to be clear with yourself as far as what your goals are. Are you looking to bulk up? Ingest about 800 calories over your basic daily usage. Looking to cut or lose weight? Opt for 800 calories under that usage instead.
- Realize that getting enough rest is also important.
Once you have your diet in check and your workout back on the up-and-up, it might be tempting to think you’ve covered everything important. However, it can’t be stressed enough that getting enough rest is important as well. You need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each day in order to build muscle, rest your system, and recover from your workouts.
For best results, do everything you can to make falling and staying asleep as easy as possible. Don’t nap during the day if you can help it. Avoid drinking too many liquids before bed to lower the likelihood of having to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Keep your bedroom cooler as far as temperature. If you still have trouble sleeping well enough or long enough, try a natural sleep supplement like melatonin.
Avoid overtraining, and definitely try to avoid ever breaking the habit of hitting the gym again if at all possible. It’s too easy to never get around to coming back from such a break! Consider making staying on top of your workouts simpler by setting up a home gym so you can maintain your progress even if life gets in the way again. You’ll be back on track in no time!
Carole Klein is the manager of social media and content for Unique Fitness Concepts located at their headquarters in Vernon Hills, IL. She has a B.S. in exercise physiology and is a fitness industry expert with more than 20 years of experience as a competitor and personal trainer.