Getting Back Into A Gym Routine

Cardio on a treadmill.

We all have those moments when we fall out of our fitness regimes or gym routine. When we have dropped the dumbbells for chocolate bars and switched out our water for out for a fizzy drink. It’s as if it happens overnight, and we wake up one day and our jeans no longer fit. So what do we do? It is a very difficult place to be in especially if you were a fitness fanatic prior to your slip up like I was. I lost 5 stones in a matter of two years and for the first time in my life had abs. Then what happened, I slowly gained back the weight in the ever so dreadful lockdown, and couldn’t seem to break the bad eating habits I had now acquired. I worked out sporadically but couldn’t seem to gain back the momentum I once had.

When your moment arrives, you have an instant call for action. It is almost like you want to jump out of this new body that doesn’t even feel like yours and resume your life as your previous self. But it doesn’t quite work like that. We can’t just snap back to our previous selves no matter how much we long for it. Even though our mind seemingly does this.

So what is the practical solution, to climb the mountain of starting over? Well firstly, we should establish the reasons for which we want to do it. Can we find the use in the same motivation we previously used? For me this wasn’t the answer, I couldn’t rustle up the motivation as I had lost the sense of mystery that was attached to my first fitness journey. I was struggling because I had been that person who achieved their fitness goals, so I lost the aspiration that came from the unknown.

So this step included finding a new ‘why’; a new reason to get back in shape. So for you, this might be to feel better about yourself and improve your self-confidence, or it may be to get your body healthy again. But it is important that you can find the reason to get yourself moving. I identified that working out helped with my well-being and incorporating it into a routine helped with my productivity in other areas. It gave me a positive feeling and a sense of accomplishment that could drive me to do other things such as writing my blog posts. So I ruminate on this reason and it allows me to gain the motivation once again to go, as I know I will do other things on my to-do list.

Once you have found your ‘why’ what next? How do you implement the regime? You don’t just miraculously become a gym bunny again, and if you do go you! But for the rest of us that struggle with this we need to pre-plan for the difficulty of kickstarting. You see, gym and fitness routines are like pushing a boulder against the ground. The ground is unlevel and uphill in the beginning but once you find the momentum the ground becomes level and you can push it with ease. It becomes easier as you go along; the difficult thing is starting. So what strategies can you implement to reduce this?

  1. Set your intensions

The first thing should be to set your intentions. If you are trying to gym again to get your body back, set a weight loss goal. Be very specific and set the timeframe in which you need to achieve it. If you are gymming to get fit, set a fitness goal such as I will run 5K three times a week. Set a REALISTIC date by which you’d like to achieve it. Put the date in the calendar on your phone; write exactly what you would like to achieve by this day.

2. Chose your routine

Once you have your intentions and goal in place, you need to work out how to get there. You need to make a blueprint for your road to fitness. Start by choosing how often you would like to go. In order to see quick but steady results, I would recommend aiming for 3-5 times a week, and at least 30 minutes in each session. Once you have decided on how often you will go, choose what you will do on what days. For example, Monday will be cardio and legs, Tuesday will be pilates and abs etc.

3. Assign breaks

So you have committed to your on days, now commit to your off days. Depending on your gym routine you will need to decide the days you will have off. Now depending on how strict your routine is planned this may be no more than two days off in a row or you may have set days in the week that you assign as rest days. Chose what works best for you, and stick to it.

4. Remove anything that may make it difficult

If you currently go out socialising three times a week consider cutting this down to two times or once a week or limiting the hours that you do it instead. This is to make time to go to the gym. Set your clothes out the night before, and ensure you have washed all your gym clothes by the beginning of the week!

5. Repeat and Reward

Now you have the steps in place to get back into your gym routine, the final step is implementation. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Keep doing your gym routine week after week until it becomes a habit. Remember it takes on average 66 days to form a habit according to Phillippa Lally; a health psychology researcher at University College London [1]. So you have to commit to repeating the cycle before the habit has been formed. You should also reward any progress you do make towards building the new habit.

Building a new habit requires both a cue (which we have covered by laying out our gym clothes) and an intrinsic award, according to Alison Phillips of Lowa State University [2]. So reward yourself with something that makes you feel good. Maybe that’s a glass of gin and slimline tonic after every two gym sessions, or maybe it’s a trip to the spa at the end of the month. Whatever it is make it good!

If you follow these steps you will be sure to get back into your gym routine, or build a new gym routine.

If you are looking to get back in the gym at lose weight in 2022, the join our Weight Loss Challenge!


[1] Phillippa Lally,Cornelia H. M. van Jaarsveld,Henry W. W. Potts,Jane Wardle. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world.European Journal of Social Psychology Volume 40, Issue 6, p. 998-1009.

[2] L. Alison Phillips, Pier-Éric Chamberland, Eric B. Hekler, Jessica Abrams, Miriam H. Eisenberg. Intrinsic Rewards Predict Exercise via Behavioral Intentions for Initiators but via Habit Strength for MaintainersSport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology (2016). 10.1037/spy0000071

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