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How to Start Working Out After An Unplanned Break

This white- or medium-skinned man leaning on his knees will show you how to start working out again if you follow his lead to our tips
Fitness Editor
Dominic is a sports journalist and personal trainer and writes fitness articles for our magazine. He also makes free workout plans for our site.

There are lots of reasons behind taking a longer break from working out. Whether it was due to illness, injury, needing to set aside exercise for higher priorities in your life, or something your body desperately needed… If you’re ready to get back into the groove, here’s our guide to how to start working out again!

Keep in mind: When you’re overflowing with motivation to get back into the groove, you still need to think about regeneration. That’s the only way to keep your eyes on progress in the long run. Not sure how to take care of yourself? Work enough rest days into your schedule right from the get-go, eat balanced, get enough sleep, and grab our Recovery Aminos.

When Should I Restart my Workout Routine?

The best time to start up your fitness routine again depends on the reason you took a break in the first place. The most common reasons are illness and injury, especially for competitive athletes. For amateur athletes, stress at work and in everyday life are often to blame.

How to Start Working Out Again After an Injury

Injured and worried you’ll have to stop your exercise program completely? Look for an alternative physical activity instead! For example, you can’t lift heavy weights with a sprained hand, but you can still get on your bike for some cardio.

After knee surgery, riding a bike or going for a light jog is a bad idea, but you can use an upper-body ergometer to keep your fitness level up. In the same way, you can keep up your upper body muscle strength with a workout on weight machines.

A white man supports a white woman clutching her inner thigh in pain

As a rule, don’t put any strain on the injured area until it’s healed. It’s better to take it easy to minimize further injury risk. If in doubt, ask your doctor or physical therapist if you can start your workout routine again after a long break.

Making sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet helps counteract muscle loss when you miss a few workouts. Our Whey Protein tastes like a milkshake, with fewer calories and plenty of protein to support muscle maintenance.*

How to Start Working Out Again After an Illness

If you were forced to take a break from your exercise routine due to an illness, you should really wait until you recover completely, no matter how much you want to stay consistent. It’s better to listen to your body and wait one day longer, than to prolong the illness by going back into a workout too soon.

How to Start Working Out Again After Stress at Work or Home

If your exercise routine has been cut short in recent weeks due to work or everyday stress, you can and should start exercising again as soon as possible. We totally got your back when your body desperately needs a few days of doing as little as possible. Give it to yourself. Then jump back in. Because right now, when your stress is at a peak, there’s actually nothing better to balance out the mental exhaustion than a bit of physical exhaustion.

Why is that so? When it’s under stress, the body releases more stress hormones, and working out is a great way to reduce them again. Plus, the longer you wait, the harder it is to get back on track. Instead, it’s better for your overall fitness to allow your body to recover after you have reduced your stress hormones with a whole body workout.

Also worth a read: Get yourself to a calmer place with these 9 stress-reducing tips

Healthy Habits for Restarting Different Sports

Getting back into practices and workouts after a break is always difficult. No matter if you are a competitive or amateur athlete, you’ll have to go back to lower weights again, your times will be slower, you’ll get out of breath faster, and you will feel a little rusty.

A group of white athletes stretching before a workout exchanging advice on how to start working out again after a break

The upside: Your body doesn’t forget what you used to be capable of. Even if you’ve lost a little muscle mass, you’ll quickly get back to your old starting point. At the same time, it’s important to not overdo it immediately and try to go full throttle again after a few weeks break. For endurance sports, plan in shorter distances or lower speeds.

In weight training, start with a little less weight than you were lifting before the break. In strength training, your strength is reduced relatively quickly, but muscles that used to be larger also build up again faster than before.

It’s a similar process with more technical sports like martial arts, or team and racket sports. You’ll definitely feel a little rusty after a longer break. But then after a relatively short time, you’ll be back to your old form again.


  • Find alternative training options that don’t aggravate the injury.
  • Rest the injured area as long as you need to.
  • If you’ve been sick, it’s better to wait longer to start again than to push yourself too quickly and prolong your illness.

If you are under a lot of stress, exercise can be a particularly good way to relieve it.

More healthy living facts from foodspring:

*Protein contributes to muscle growth and maintenance.

Article sources
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