Whether it’s a vacation, an illness or a lack of motivation, we’ve all fallen off the fitness wagon at some point. What starts with just a few days break from your routine can turn into weeks, months or even years in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you’ve lost some or even all of your progress, and you find yourself feeling defeated or unmotivated to get back into shape.

The time it’ll take to get back to your pre-break physical state largely depends on the length of your hiatus, the habits you formed during that period and your level of fitness before your break. Regardless of those factors, there are some tactics you can try to help ease yourself back into your workout program while avoiding injury and mental lapse.

The objectives you were working towards before your break may not be what you’re striving for now, which is why it’s a good idea to re-evaluate. Plus, you won’t be starting at the same level of fitness you were before taking some time off, so you need to set some new goals that align with where you’re restarting your journey.

Once you’ve got an end goal in place, you can start to build a progressive workout routine that’ll help you reach your goals in the healthiest and most effective way possible.

Plan ahead
Planning your fitness routine involves identifying exactly how much time you have to dedicate to your goals and filling those slots with the right types of workouts.

The type, frequency and duration of those workouts will depend entirely on what you want to accomplish.

Planning also includes getting the sleep required to give you the energy needed to follow through with the activities you’ve scheduled into your calendar. And if you do miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up. Just jump right back into your fitness program before you miss a beat.

Start with flexibility and mobility
Flexibility helps your body adjust to the physical demands associated with exercise and is a great way to avoid injury and muscle soreness.

The goal of these workouts is to get your blood flowing while assisting in your range of motion and joint mobility. Yoga and BODYFLOW classes are great to start with because they stretch and strengthen the entire body without overloading your muscles with extreme resistance.

Add cardio
Try incorporating light cardiovascular work on either the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike after stretching. If you’re not ready to hop on a machine, a brisk walk will do the trick—anything to get your body moving. Whatever cardio work you choose to do, try to begin working in 10-minute bouts.

If you have a well-established base fitness level, you may begin with a light jog instead of a brisk walk to ensure you’re pushing yourself enough for progress. To prevent injury, make sure to slowly increase intensity in 10-minute intervals.  

Join classes
Incorporating a class with a set time and date is a great way to help keep you accountable to your fitness goals. You can even try adding each class into your schedule to help solidify it as a pre-existing priority that can’t be neglected.

Plus, once you get to know some of the instructors and regular attendees, you’ll be much more incentivized to prioritize your gym time.

Buddy up
If you’re having trouble mustering up the motivation to hit the gym, commit to a couple of workouts with a friend. That way, you have someone else to you hold you accountable to each workout. You’re much more likely to prioritize your gym time if you know someone else is waiting for you in the change room.

If you’ve fallen away from your routine, the most important thing you can do is avoid feeling discouraged about the challenge that lies ahead. As long as you find the strength and the willpower to get back on track, you’ll always be able to achieve your fitness goals.