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Beginners Guide: How To Start Training After A Lay Off

by: Carlos Argueta

There was a time! A time when you used to be very active. Running, weightlifting, and other physical activities were second nature to you. You are now wondering to yourself, "How did I stop or why did I stop?". Getting back into training is not very easy but it also does not need to be so hard.

An unsettling feeling has been lingering. You are unhappy with how you feel, or maybe with the way you look, or with your day-to-day performance. It has been weeks, months, maybe years since you have attempted to get back in shape. You are really considering getting in the best physical condition of your life but excuses keep on creeping in.

Your motivation for getting in the best shape of your life must be more powerful than any excuse or reason why you have stopped in the past. Your goals must be set reasonably and in a timely matter. You must be patient in the process of accomplishing your goals. The great aspect of goals and getting in shape is that goals are all relative. They vary from person to person.

For one individual their goal maybe to run a half marathon, for another person it maybe to have more energy to play with their kids, and for someone else they may just want to change their physical appearance. Whichever goal you set, you can accomplish it by getting rid of the excuses, with the right attitude and setting the right game plan.


“I don’t have time.”

This is the most common excuse that comes up. Granted, some people work up to 12 hour days, have kids, a spouse, and many other aspects that require attention while they are not at work. But, let's break this myth down. There are 168 hours in a week. Human beings should sleep 8 hours a night, which takes away 56 hours a week. Leaving 112 hours of functional time a week. Out of those 112 hours we work 40 hours a week, on average, leaving 72 hours of time not sleeping nor working a week. So now you have 72 hours of time to distribute evenly amongst family, leisure and accomplishing something spectacular. No one who is in shape or maintains a healthy lifestyle has more time available. Their reason for being in shape is just more important.


“I’ve been injured, or dealing with an injury.”

Definitely a valid reason is an injury that disables you from walking, or breathing but if you have the ability to get somewhere and be active, you should capitalize on that opportunity. Some injuries will require rehabilitation and specialized training but once you get through that, keep going. There is no road without bumps. If you have a serious injury and truly are out for a while, use that time to research more things.  Once you are back, keep in mind what caused you to be injured so you can prevent such things from occurring again.  Lastly, always listen to your body. It is better you take a few days off to heal than to be out for 3 months because you are on the "go big or go home" mentality. 

“I have a spouse and kids.”

Similar to the excuse of time is the family excuse. There are gyms that are open all 24 hours of the day. Make the most of the time your family is asleep. Train before they even notice you are gone. Go before work or go after they fall asleep. Your spouse will appreciate the work once they notice you are dedicated. At first, there might be some resistance, just keep showing up. Eventually you will become the person who is in shape, not the person trying to get in shape. Your kids will look at you like a superhero. Additionally, you and your spouse can do couple workouts. As the saying goes, "Couples that workout together stay together" so it would not be a bad idea for you both to begin your fitness journey together.

“I do not have energy to get in shape.”

This is where the fitness industry serves you best. There are great supplement products that provide you with the energy and focus you need to get through a rigorous training session. Other products help you during your workout so there is no sudden crash and other products help you recover so you can go back to training and are not too sore to perform. The categories of products are: pre-workouts, intra-workouts and post-workouts.

“I do not have a gym membership or cannot afford the lifestyle.”

Granted some gym memberships are priced high but there are plenty of gyms that are now making gym membership prices reasonable. Some gyms charge as little as $10 a month and you can always find deals for enrollment fees. Getting in shape really is not expensive nor an additional cost. It is an alternative lifestyle in which you can ultimately save money by minimizing potential health risks later on in life. So, to answer to this excuse, you really cannot afford to neglect your health.

“I do not know where to begin or how to perform the movements.”

If you are reading this, you have already begun. Your mind is starting to open up to idea that there is a better version of yourself. If you can afford a personal trainer, I highly recommend them. I am not saying go out and sign up with the first trainer you meet because not all trainers are equal. Test-drive a trainer. Speak with a few potential trainers and make sure they have your best interest at heart. Make sure they are knowledgeable, goal oriented, and accountable. If you cannot afford a trainer for a few months, YouTube has hundreds of short videos demonstrating training techniques. The Internet has thousands of articles on how to perform an exercise; I wrote an article on how to perform the basic bench press. So the resources are out there, you must go to them.

There are plenty more excuses that come up while you are contemplating on whether or not to be active. Your motivation for getting in the best shape of your life must be more powerful than any excuse or reason why you have stopped in the past. Once you get past all of the excuses, the journey becomes fulfilling. Naturally, not everyone who goes to the gym enjoys it in the beginning. However, there will come a time when getting in shape becomes less stressful and more enjoyable. Results will soon follow. Do not go back to training with the expectation to pick up where you left off. Start slow and work your way back to where you once where and then surpass that level.

A mistake many people make is not understanding their limitations. Often, people go too hard thinking they must compensate for the time off. What may occur is an overwhelming soreness that takes you out of the gym for a week. Soreness is a positive signal that your body is being challenged. However, debilitating soreness should not be the objective. So where to begin:

Goals: How To Structure Them To Ensure Success

Goals must be very specific. Setting a goal of losing weight is good. Setting a goal of losing 30 pounds is better. Setting a goal of losing 30 pounds in 15 weeks is great. Setting a goal of losing 30 pounds in 15 weeks and keeping the weight off by continuing the patterns that allowed you to lose the weight is a way to guarantee success. Write down your goals on a note pad and use a magnet to place it on your refrigerator. You and your family will see it everyday. Along with your goal, write down the reason for doing it that is more important than any excuse that can arise.

Start slow and build momentum

Sign up for a gym; find a path to jog on, a hike to tread, or a pool to swim. Whatever your goal is, whatever action you want to improve on, start slow and keep going. In the beginning your body will be rusty and stiff, but once in motion the ride becomes smooth. The movements you perform will become fluid. It will not come fast or easy. It will take time and patience.

Once in motion, stay in motion

Similar to taking one day off from training leads into a week, which then can become months of not training. Showing up to train adds up as well. It is not any harder to keep training and pushing through resistance then it is to sit on the couch and watch TV. Both choices require a reason. Most of the time, being tired is the reason that keeps us on the couch. Well, when you become tired of being tired, energize your life with activity. You will never leave a difficult training session and regret showing up.

Excuses, reasons, justifications, whatever you want to call them are just in the way. Once you get beyond the barrier of excuses and build momentum toward your goal, you will understand that it is worth it. Whatever your motivation is, you will enhance your experience. There is no end to a goal, your goal will transcend and evolve along with the person you are becoming. You will look back at the person you were and not quite understand what took you so long to get started. You will translate the same mentality you approach your physical goals into every aspect of your life. You will become a person people will admire because of the discipline the lifestyle requires.

Set clear and concise goals. Get rid of the excuses. Put a plan together that will guide you as you progress down your new lifestyle. You may have quit before. Your excuse may have overpowered any reason to keep going. However, that was before you discovered that you have an unsettling feeling of unfinished business. Conquer that feeling and move forward with your goal. And you will never look back and think the effort was not worth it. You are worth the effort.

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