Getting back into shape after time out can feel like a long and daunting haul. Injury, trauma, depression, business commitments, child birth and much else can all get in the way of a regular exercise programme. And so can plain old laziness! Knowing how to get going and keep going is one thing, but pulling it off is another.
Here at some reminders, pointers and ideas that you can factor into recharging muscles, mind, mojo and vitality.
Firstly, find the inspiration
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Whatever works for you. It could be stories you have read of others, perhaps it’s from brilliant sporting achievements you have watched, maybe it’s a friend who you can call to mind who has overcome major obstacles. Recall the admiration you felt towards certain events and athletes.
These are sometimes normal, sometimes gifted, sometimes exceptional individuals, but what they had in common with us is a goal.
So, what takes your fancy: medals, feeling fit or just being in control of yourself? Make a firm mental note of your aspirations, whether it’s to make your clothes fit better, that you need to rebuild mobility after an injury or you need to generate more happy hormones, your goal should be what really resonates and drives you towards it, daily.
After weeks or months of being out of proper action, you’ll have seen the decline that comes from inactivity. Let’s turn it around now and start building and accumulating again towards positive outcomes.
Now, remind yourself this needs time, patience and smart training. The first sessions need to be modified, so as not to cause any mental or muscle damage and therefore excuses to derail the next session! It is all about building up at a smart pace and giving yourself the best possible chances of reaching your goal and potential.
Momentum is important
So, assuming you get your first session under your belt and it went well, plan in the 2nd and 3rd. Getting that rush of endorphins from exercising again will soon become a new habit. Morning workouts are best, it also means you can start the day flushed with fizzing endorphins. We normally need 3 to 4 weeks to instil new habits, so be dedicated now the ball is rolling.
Understand the body and its biorhythms
Listen to your body, but only if it is well tuned! Otherwise it could be sending out contradictory signals with less than motivating messages: “more starch, sugar and carbs” isn’t an unusual ‘voice’ when we’ve been used to more recreational food and not such great self-care. Diet is hugely influential to motivation.
At this stage, if the diet is leaning more towards carbs and acidic choices, it’s best to override the requests that come from a tired and toxic body. One step at a time for now – get moving, get the endorphins released – the diet can be addressed soon, once we have that all-important physical momentum.
After a few sessions, it’s likely that you won’t want to sabotage your efforts with dubious food fuels anyway. If you want results, the insulin levels will need controlling, so aim towards a fresh and nutritious diet.
Endorphins alleviate anxiety and pain, yet when out of action there is much less opportunity to boost the release of them. Endorphins are all about bringing pleasure and when they are in full flow, absorbing information is far easier.
A lack of happy hormones from a time of inactivity opens the door to other habits as a way to artificially stimulate the brain. Just consider this: a short bout of exercise will deliver the same endorphin boost as a bar of chocolate, only the latter will last minutes and the rush from the exercise session will recur all day.
Get outside for your sessions
Whether that is the garden, or park, or nearby woodland, use the remaining longer, lighter days while you can. The uplift and sensory stimulation from the outdoors is huge. If energising, feeling vital and virile is your goal, take advantage of all the things that contribute to that and amplify your chances.
If you can tie up your workouts with walking the dog or doing an errand on the way, all the better for satisfaction levels and time management.
There are many training methods: high reps, low heavy reps, drop sets, high tension, low volume and vice versa. They all achieve different things, but for starting out again the emphasis needs to be on creating a balanced base to build from.
This means a routine, as illustrated, that includes exercises that deliver a push, a pull, a single leg, double leg, a bend and extend and rotations and mobilising the spine. Get the body evenly strong, recruit muscles that have been dormant and get other elements of fitness activated too, like balance, so as to stimulate supportive muscles.
Agility, flexibility and strength will follow with ease. For now, precision and execution are key: allow time to get the exercise really working, move slowly, adjust angles fractionally if it doesn’t seem to be delivering. Ensure your stance, posture and start and finish position adhere to proper form at all times.
Read Part 2: I will deliver a workout for you that adheres to everything I have written here. There will be accompanying pictures, so you can get a clear understanding of each exercise.
To read more about Joey Bull, visit her Expert Profile.