How to Get Back Into Your Workout Routine After a Break 

by JJ Virgin on February 22, 2024

Life often presents unexpected challenges that can force you to put a pause on your fitness routine, like illness, surgery, or family emergencies. This can be frustrating, especially if you've finally achieved a level of consistency with your workouts. 

Rest is important for your recovery, however, and the way you get back into your fitness regimen after a break can actually make you stronger and more resilient in the face of future obstacles.  

Depending on your reason for the break, you’ll want to start slow. Rushing back into intense exercise too soon after a hiatus can be counterproductive and potentially harmful. It can place added stress on your body that can delay your healing. 

By implementing the following strategies, you can ensure a smooth and safe return to your workout routine. 

1. Set Realistic Goals 

Setting practical goals gives you a clear purpose and a sense of direction. These targets drive your workouts and help you maintain motivation as well. Keep the goals small and manageable; pushing too aggressively too soon can lead to burnout or injury. 

Let's say you're returning to strength training. A realistic goal might be to start with a specific number of reps or a particular weight level. This approach encourages gradual progress, allowing you to rebuild your strength foundation safely and effectively. 

By setting goals that are within reach, you position yourself for success. Each achievement, no matter how seemingly small, reinforces your confidence to reach your goals and eliminate frustration. Remember my favorite saying: small hinges swing big doors! 

2. Listen to Your Body 

Listening to your body means paying attention to its signals—and respecting the messages it sends. This heightened awareness helps you make better training decisions and avoid injuring yourself. 

When you start strength training, your body may communicate through two distinct signals: pain and discomfort. 

Pain can be a warning sign of that you’re pushing yourself beyond your limits. Ignoring it can lead to poor progress, poor recovery, and injury that can disrupt your routine even more. 

Discomfort can be positive or negative. Discomfort from challenging yourself leads to growth, while discomfort from overexertion (going harder at the gym than your body is ready for) can cause exhaustion, muscle strain, and potentially more severe health issues.  

You know your body best. If it doesn’t feel right, modify or scale back your exercises to prevent overexertion. 

Otherwise, discomfort during strength training signifies that your body is adapting to new challenges and growing stronger. This is a normal aspect of training, particularly when returning to strength training after a break. Embracing and persevering through this discomfort facilitates your body's adaptation and progression. 

3. Progress Gradually 

Gradually increasing your workout as you get stronger is called progressive overload, and it's the key to making progress safely and effectively. When your exercises start feeling easier, your body is adapting to the current stress level. To make your workouts more challenging, you can: 

  1. Lift heavier weights 
  2. Do more repetitions and/or sets 
  3. Extend the duration of your workout sessions 

However, it's crucial to emphasize the gradual aspect. You should allow your body to adapt slowly to these increased demands to prevent overwhelming your muscles, joints, and heart, reducing the risk of injuries and strain. 

Progressively increasing your workload provides physical benefits and helps prevent mental and emotional burnout. 

As you make small improvements in your workouts, it's essential to maintain proper form for the best results and to prevent injuries. Start by focusing on good form when exercising at lower intensity levels, and as you become stronger, gradually raise the intensity while still ensuring correct form. This way, you'll continue to see progress and won't get stuck at the same performance level. 

4. Track Your Progress 

A digital app or wearable device can help monitor and support your strength-training journey. 

When you're getting back into strength training, start by checking where you're at fitness-wise. Use a tracker to record your body-composition measurements, resting heart rate, and how strong you are right now. This starting point will help you keep track of how you're improving. 

Keep using the tracker to log your strength workouts, like what exercises you do, how long you do them, how hard you work, and how you feel during each workout. Doing this regularly will help you stick to a routine and make sure you keep challenging yourself. 

Many trackers can also give you specific metrics or measurements, like how many steps you take, how far you go, how much protein you’re eating, and your heart rate. These numbers can show you how your overall fitness and health are changing. For example, watching your heart rate during strength training can tell you if you're working hard enough for your goals. 

Seeing your progress can be motivating and keep you on track. If you're not getting the desired results, looking at your tracker data can help you figure out what you might need to change, like your workouts, diet, or how much rest you're getting. 

5. Include Mobility and Flexibility 

Mobility exercises are like practice for everyday movements, making it easier to do daily tasks without getting hurt. These exercises also help you keep your balance and coordination, which is important as you age because it can prevent falls. Plus, they keep your joints working well and can stop you from feeling stiff or getting osteoarthritis. Doing gentle stretching can also help your muscles feel better and flow more blood, especially after strenuous workouts. 

6. Consider Working With a Trainer 

Having a professional trainer can be helpful when you're getting back into working out. They figure out where you're starting from and make a workout plan that's just right for you, considering any limits or injuries you have.  

A trainer can check how fit you are, know what you want to achieve, and keep you excited about your workouts. They create a plan that slowly gets you back into strength training, ensuring you do exercises correctly and don't push too hard, which helps you stay safe and progress over time. 

7. Eat Protein First

What you eat is as important as how you exercise when starting your fitness routine again. Protein is a key player in repairing and building your muscles.  

When you get back into working out, your muscles go through some stress and tiny tears, which is why you might feel sore. Muscle soreness for one or two days post-workout is normal. If it lasts more than two days, give yourself an extra rest day, or do your workout with body weight only. 

An eat-protein-first approach helps your muscle fibers heal and grow stronger, allowing you to regain strength. A plan that puts protein first balances your hormones and ensures your blood sugar stays steady so you have enough energy to power through your workouts and daily life. 

A protein-first approach means you get 30-50 grams of protein at every meal. Don’t guess how much protein you’re getting. My Protein Cheat Sheet provides a list of foods containing 30-60 grams of protein to make it super easy,  and you can download it for free.  

8. Focus on Sleep 

Good sleep is vital for recovery, energy, staying motivated, and performing well during workouts. To get better sleep: 

  1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. 
  2. Aim for about eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night in a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom. 
  3. Before bedtime, do gentle stretching, take a warm bath, or use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to relax your mind and prepare your body for sleep. 
  4. Be mindful of blue light from screens on phones, tablets, and computers, as it can falling asleep harder. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime, or use blue light filters if you must use electronic devices in the evening. 

Sleep Candy™ combines melatonin with other sleep-supporting ingredients like 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), inositol, and L-theanine to get solid, uninterrupted sleep every single night.*  

9. Get the Right Nutrients 

When you're getting back into your workout routine after a break, it's not just about exercising; it's also about giving your body the right nutrients to perform well, recover, and stay healthy. A few critical nutrients help your body regain power, reduce muscle soreness, and stay strong.  

Some of these valuable nutrients for repair and recovery include: 

  • Amino Acids: These building blocks of proteins are essential for repairing and rebuilding those tiny tears I mentioned earlier after your workout.1 Some amino acids, particularly branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) like leucine, isoleucine, and valine, stimulate muscle protein synthesis for post-workout repair and growth.2 
  • Creatine: This naturally occurring compound, primarily stored in your muscles, works as a quick energy source during high-intensity, short-duration activities, such as weightlifting or sprinting. Creatine supplementation can increase the availability of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body's primary energy currency. Creatine can also reduce muscle damage and inflammation, speeding up the recovery process between workouts.3 
  • Magnesium: This hardworking mineral helps alleviate muscle cramps and spasms by promoting muscle relaxation. It helps produce ATP, too, essential for energy metabolism. Magnesium can enhance the quality of your sleep and can aid in reducing exercise-induced inflammation, thereby facilitating a quicker recovery.4 

Consistency Is Key 

Being consistent is important when you're restarting your fitness routine. It helps your body get used to exercise slowly and improves your muscles, heart, and other organs as they adapt to the extra activity. This makes you stronger, gives you more stamina, and boosts your overall fitness. 

When you keep a routine and stick to your workouts, you also build a solid commitment to staying active. This commitment becomes a powerful motivator, helping you stick with your routine and push through obstacles or setbacks. 

Consistency in exercise isn't just about physical benefits; it's also great for your mental and emotional well-being. Regular exercise can lower stress, improve mood, boost self-confidence, and clear your mind. These perks make you feel positive about your workouts and better equipped to handle life's challenges.  

My Resistance Training Cheat Sheet provides everything you need when you get started on your fitness journey, including home gym essentials, an 8-week workout plan, and a progress tracker to track your sets, reps, and weights with each workout. It’s FREE, so grab yours here  


  1. Aguirre N, van Loon LJ, Baar K. The role of amino acids in skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise. Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2013;76:85-102. doi: 10.1159/000350261. Epub 2013 Jul 25. PMID: 23899757. 
  1. Wax B, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR, Mayo JJ, Lyons BC, Kreider RB. Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients. 2021 Jun 2;13(6):1915. doi: 10.3390/nu13061915. PMID: 34199588; PMCID: PMC8228369.  
  1. Al Alawi AM, Majoni SW, Falhammar H. Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions. Int J Endocrinol. 2018 Apr 16;2018:9041694. doi: 10.1155/2018/9041694. PMID: 29849626; PMCID: PMC5926493.  

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.