Has your fitness regime become an afterthought? Don’t stress, because if you’re returning from a long layoff this is all the motivational advice you need to do it right – so you don’t have to do it again.

A study at Penn State University found it’s natural for your motivation to exercise to fluctuate from week to week, and these variations tend to predict how much exercise you’ll do – no matter what your long-term exercise goals are. Based on this research, it seems the best workout routine is one that’s both flexible and matches your needs while you mount your comeback.

Here’s how you can get back to your former glory in record time.


Decide what you want

Everyone has fallen off the proverbial horse at some point. However, to redeem yourself, all you need to do is show enough heart to get back on that fitness pony and start riding again.

The biggest obstacle to overcome lies within you. It’s stopped you before and risks doing it again, so write down 5-10 reasons why you stopped last time. Look at them often to remind yourself where you went wrong.

Next, decide exactly what you want for yourself and your performance; write this above your list of excuses if you have to. This will help keep your motivation strong, both in the first few weeks and in perpetuity.

Don’t be unadventurous about your desires, either, because people who set conservative goals have a harder time achieving satisfaction than those who set ambitious goals, found a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. So make your endgame a prize worth fighting for.

Once you have your goals in mind, mount a return to the training techniques and exercises you once had success with, because familiarity is the surest way to help you feel a fast measure of success.

Muscle gains in mass and density are rooted in consistent commitment where you constantly stick to a set schedule that sees you shooting for bigger weights in every session. At this stage of your game, the last thing familiarity breeds is contempt.


Where did you go wrong?

Being a little introspective is a great way to find your old self. However, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew because research at Stanford University Medical Center discovered that revamping your diet and exercise simultaneously gives a bigger motivational kick than changing them one at a time.

However, the researchers cited that changing your diet first could actually interfere with starting a habitual exercise regime. So tackle exercise first because it’s an ongoing process.

Training is never a matter of saying you’ve finally made it to your destination and then suddenly stopping; it’s a daily journey.


Get used to the old pains

It’s important to remember how to focus on dealing with pain to improve your physique both in the gym and after your workouts. You will no doubt ache in the first few weeks when you make your return to fitness, so take small steps towards easing your post-workout hurts using muscle-relieving tactics like taking a cold bath, drinking cherry or watermelon juice and having a caffeine hit after training, which can cut post-workout pain by up to 50%, found research at the University of Georgia.

It will be tough at first, but make sure you don’t entertain any negativity because this can stop you from getting back to the top of your game. The first few weeks are tough so you can expect to feel despair, doubt or disappointment, but it’s how you progress past them that sets the tone for success.


Restore order

Disorder degenerates into dysfunction, undermining your intentions of regaining your former self. To avoid this you need to learn to manage your life based on time versus wants and needs. Time dictates how long you have to work, sleep or eat, so spend it wisely and don’t let your day fall into disarray and disorganization.

In fact, managing time is so crucial to survival that even wild animals do it to maximize their chances of longevity, found a study in PLOS Computational Biology. If a lion can do it then so can you.

When I started training decades ago, everything in life revolved around my training schedule. I literally planned my life activities around exercise because I knew if I didn’t, the chances of training with the best results decreased dramatically.

According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, a professor at Columbia University: “Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.” So you’ll be sabotaging yourself if you fail to plan.

Simply jot down a basic daily schedule before you go to bed and you’ll dramatically increase your chances of maintaining consistency.


Set your perimeters

Make yourself accountable for the choices you made in the past which cause you to stop exercising. To enjoy the reward of a top-notch physique, you need to embrace a constant will to succeed and banish excuses.

Research at Temple University, Pennsylvania, found that people who are overweight have a significantly higher number of barriers to exercise than people who are a normal weight. Don’t let pithy justifications put your fitness regimen on the backburner because excuses are the bricks used to build a house of failure.

Rather, restructure your priorities to create the best work-life exercise schedule that serves all of your needs. By making time for exercise, you invest in yourself and this will help you restore order in all areas of your life.


Forge resilience

Whether it’s your friends begging you to come out for just one cold beer or a late night in the office that eats into your workout time, you need to plan to be able to tackle adversity and anticipate setbacks; try to view these situations as valuable lessons because any challenge you overcome will only make your resolve stronger.

Research at Haifi University, Israel, found that people who overcome extreme adversity actually tend to live significantly longer than those who don’t.

Propelling yourself forward through inner strength is the key to building physical strength. To triumph, you have to face trials, and this might involve something as small as telling your friends that you’ll go out next time; but every challenge you overcome makes the next one easier to surmount.


Complacency is your enemy

This is the silent killer of fitness that can lead you to an unfit life by stealing your inspiration. So if you’ve skipped a workout, an extra hard session can’t make up for yesterday’s missed session.

Complacency can also lead to a false sense of accomplishment because the more infrequently you workout, the more you become someone who doesn’t exercise. Even doing a meager 30-minute workout each day can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol prevent osteoporosis and increase your energy, found a study at the Mayo Clinic.

Look to constantly renew your commitment and challenge yourself to push past old limits. By putting in the hard yards mentally and physically, you will not only regain your strength but the purpose behind it and you will make a success of your comeback.


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