Why Working Out Feels Harder After a Gym Break

woman working out in gym alone

Regular exercise is something we all need to do to maintain our health. Whether it’s kickboxing, spinning or lifting weights, workouts should be challenging and allow you to see and feel consistent progress. We also need rest days to support muscle repair and recovery to get stronger without injury.

But how could taking a longer break slow your goal-getting efforts?

3 Reasons Why Your Workout Feels Harder After a Break from the Gym

1. Your Aerobic Capacity Can Slow Down

Professional athletes aren’t excluded from rest days, but even they will start to notice a decline in aerobic capacity after 2-3 weeks off from regular workouts.

If you can’t work out for a week or longer due to a holiday, illness, injury or something else outside of your control, you may notice workouts feel more challenging than before.

This is most likely because you’ve gone from consistent moderate to vigorous training, to inactivity and back.

woman in workout gear walking up stairs

If you’re not well, take the time to recover and work harder when you get back. Otherwise, if it’s your schedule that’s restricted you from getting workouts in, walk, stand or take the stairs whenever possible.

2. You Can Feel Guilty

If you’ve had to take time off, coming back to your regular routine can trigger feelings of guilt and of missing out. But no matter how intense your FOMO is, remind yourself to recognise that time off is sometimes out of your control and sometimes needed. In fact, rest may be what your body needed more of.

3. Because Working Out is a Habit

If you’re someone who’s always kept to a regular workout regime, it can be a tough habit to break. That first workout back reminds your body what a heightened state of activity feels like. Your nervous system needs a wake-up call to properly recruit your brain and working muscles.

The ‘shock’ value can make the first couple of workouts back an adjustment period. Thankfully, you have ‘muscle memory’ that allows your fitness to bounce fairly quickly.

Your body gets used to active days as easily as rest days. Keep a balanced mindset and give yourself a break when life has other plans for workout days. As long as you don’t quit permanently, the gym will be there for you when you’re both ready to rekindle your relationship.

Written by Lisa Payne

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