Reset your workouts

How to get back into exercise after a rut.
Published May 11, 2020

We’ve all been there: a busy schedule, a head cold, a summer of indulging and relaxation – life, in general – gets in the way of our routine and suddenly it’s been a few weeks (or a few months) since we’ve exercised.

When the dust settles, and we’re ready to get back in the saddle, it can be extremely intimidating, even when we have the best of intentions. So, here’s some advice to make getting out of an exercise rut not only less intimidating but totally doable.

First: Don’t beat yourself up about falling into a rut in the first place. Seriously. Beating yourself up doesn’t do you any good – it only makes you feel worse and less motivated. Everybody falls into a rut sometimes, and everybody can get out of one.

Personal trainer and triathlon coach Chrissy Carroll, who blogs at Snacking in Sneakers, says it’s important to make your environment work for you when you want to start working out again.

“We all know that if you leave work and realize you forgot your gym shoes, it makes it much harder to get your workout done,” she says. “At the beginning of the week, plan out when and where you’ll do your workouts. Then the night before, make sure you’ve set out your clothes, packed a gym bag, etc.”

Celebrity trainer and owner of Lagree Fitness Studio in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Dede Lagree, shares these five tips to get back into a fitness routine after a slump.

1. Baby-Step Approach: “When you’re powering back up, it’s best to start out small and gradually get back to where you were,” Lagree says. “Start simple by introducing small, positive changes into your daily routine. Don’t try to get back in the game with one swing.”

2. Build Your Community: “Having a workout buddy or circle of friends who share similar goals creates accountability and support,” she says. “Habit builds momentum, and momentum builds success. Having a friend to meet is a great way to get out the door.”

3. Set Yourself Up For Success: “Set realistic, achievable goals. Be sure to celebrate each success and goal as you achieve it. Don’t overlook your progress.”

Lagree says mileage markers are a fun way to note your progress, but don’t focus just on the numbers. “Success also includes how we feel. What you say about you is more important than what a scale says.”

4. Get Crafty: “What gets written, gets done,” says Lagree. “Make a motivation board or Pinterest page to visualize your goals. This will help you stay focused and inspired. Creating a collage of the place you want to visit or the clothes you want to wear or the race you want to run will remind you why you want to get back in the game,” she says.

“Which brings me to my last point…”

5. Remember the Why: “Remind yourself of what made you lace up your Nikes in the first place,” says Lagree. “When you remember the ‘why’, it will give you that boost of motivation you need to push through barriers.”

Carroll also recommends signing up for a challenging (but achievable!) event that requires some preparation to help you get out of your exercise rut.

“By putting money on the table and committing to a solid date for an event, you’re more likely to stick with your exercise plan so that you arrive feeling prepared,” she says.

“Choose something you’d find enjoyable – whether that’s training for your first half marathon, signing up for an all-day Zumba-thon, or tackling a Crossfit challenge.”