Don't Do Too Much Too Soon

  • 10th Oct 2015

Whether you've taken a short break or it's been many years, you may make the mistake many of us do: Thinking you're in better shape than you are or that you should be in better shape than you are. That leads us to do too much too soon rather than easing into your workouts.  Instead:

  • You try to make up for lost time - Once you realize how long it's been since you've worked out and how much weight you've gained, you may launch yourself into a high intensity 7-day workout routine your body isn't ready for.
  • You do the workouts you used to do...20 years ago - Another mistake we make is going back to workouts we did years ago, thinking, "I was in such great shape when I used to run 10 miles a day/exercise for 2 hours straight/do Ironman triathlons...I should do that again!" Unfortunately, you may not be able keep up or, worse, end up with an injury. You forget that what you did in the past won't always fit your current life. You have a different body, schedule, level of energy and goals now.
  • Your try to force your body to be in shape on command - We sometimes force our bodies to conform to the 'rules' of exercise and weight loss (an hour a day, most days of the week) in the hopes of losing weight fast. The result? A sore, tired body that never recovers from your workouts.

Solution: Start Where Your Body Is Now

Approach your workouts from where you are now, not where you used to be or where you want to be. It's tough to do that when you want fast results, but you'll get no results if you can't exercise at all. Before going all out, consider the safest way to get back on track:

Start Easy: If it's been more than 12 weeks since you've worked out, you've lost much of your endurance and strength. Taking the time to gradually build them back up will help you avoid injury and make your workouts easier to stick with. Start with a simple program, for example, 3 days of moderate cardio for 20-30 minutes and 1-2 days of basic strength training, adding intensity (frequency, sets, weights, etc.) as your body gets stronger. More about getting in shape with exercise.

Modify: If you're going back to previous workouts and it's been more than a few weeks, back off. Do one set of each exercise and use less weight, for example. Or, if you were doing an hour of cardio, take it back to 20-30 minutes and stay at a moderate intensity for the first couple of weeks. Gradually work up to where you were over a period of weeks, not days.

Listen to your body: If you experience severe soreness (lasting more than a few days), you'll know you overdid it. Some soreness is to be expected, but if you can't get out of bed or brush your hair without pain, schedule 1-2 rest days and make a mental note to modify your workouts using the guidelines listed above.

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