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How To Get Back Into Shape

Check out Get-Fit Guy's tips on how to get back into shape!

By
Ben Greenfield
3-minute read

You've probably been there: a new job, a new baby, an injury, life happens, and you find yourself taking a long break from exercise. When you finally begin working out again, your body just doesn't feel right -- your lungs burn, your muscles are sluggish, and you feel like you're going to hurt something. Check out How Fast Do You Get Out Of Shape for more info on what happens when you quit working out.

So when you're trying to get back into shape after a substantial break, should you ease into it or should you just shock your system? Whether you've been inspired by a New Year's resolution, an uncooperative wardrobe, or an unfriendly bathroom mirror, this article will teach you how to get back into shape quickly and safely after a break from exercise.

Why Getting Back Into Shape Is Hard

Just like a car that has been parked in a garage for several years, your body needs a significant amount of warming up before you can take it straight to high speeds on the highway. If you try to jump right back into the same type of workout routines you were doing before you quit exercising, then your body rebels against you:

  1. Since your lungs have lost elasticity, you have to suck wind much harder to get oxygen into your body, and this increased strain on your inspiratory and expiratory muscles can cause the notorious side ache.

  2. Since your blood volume has decreased, your blood vessels are smaller, your cells aren't as efficient at grabbing oxygen from the blood, and your heart has to work much harder to pump oxygen to your working muscles. So for any given effort, you feel as though your heart is pumping out of your chest.

But that's not all! With significantly less muscle to support your exercising joints, and smaller blood vessels delivering the ingredients for lubricating fluid to those joints, your knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, ankles, and hips can feel incredibly stressed when you try to suddenly push them back into a workout routine.

But there's good news!

Your body is incredibly adaptive, and within just 2-4 weeks of exercise, your brain learns to recruit more muscles and move your body more efficiently. This is called a "neuromuscular adaptation."

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About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.