How To Break Out Of An Exercise Rut

Has fitness fallen by the wayside? Here are our easy tips for getting back into a routine.


Time to get back to this stuff. Fitness photo via Shutterstock

Whether you are re-surfacing from an exercise rut or returning from an injury, how you go about restarting your workout routine can make or break your success. Getting back into the gym can be easier said than done.

Finding motivation is the easy part, but acting on it and developing a regular exercise routine is a different story. It takes a minimum of 30 days to create a habit—that’s an entire month before something becomes part of your weekly routine. With that said, these first 30 days are the most critical part of your plan, so it can be helpful to forget about the end goal initially and instead focus on getting through the first 30 days. Ease into things, set reasonable expectations, and establish your healthy habits; you’ll be better off in the long run.

Here are a few tips that will to set you up for success:

Visualize your progress.

Think it, see it, and believe it. It may sound cliché, but it works. Mindset is everything when it comes to working out. You have nothing to lose here.

Choose an activity that you like to do.

Enjoying your workouts is a must. Running, for instance, is a great way to get in shape, but if it is not something that you take pleasure in doing, it’s not the activity you want to start out with. Biking, rollerblading, or even dancing might suit you instead. The goal during the first month is to get yourself to move; the modality is entirely up to you.

Recruit a like-minded workout buddy who will push you and hold you accountable.

Once you’ve chosen a workout partner, it would be wise to sit down with your calendars and schedule your workouts for the next month. Treat your appointments like any other event that you would not miss. After a while, exercising becomes second nature and you won’t feel right unless you get that workout in.

When all else fails, financially commit to an exercise program.

Nothing will get you going more than the thought of your hard-earned money going to waste. If it’s already paid for, you are much less likely to blow off the commitment. You don’t have to spend a lot of money—perhaps you just pay for a month’s worth of spinning classes at the gym or sign up for some kayaking lessons.

Now that you’re ready to plan your exercise schedule, you’ll need to add some structure to it. As you ease back into things, be sure to gradually build your workouts up each week. Your schedule should look something like this:

Week 1: Cardio two times per week for 30 minutes each, strength training one time per week.

Week 2: Cardio three times per week for 30 minutes each, strength training one time per week.

Week 3: Cardio three times per week for 30 minutes each, strength training two times per week.

Week 4: Cardio two times per week, strength training two times per week, and circuit training one time per week.

On the circuit training day, you should combine your cardio with the strength training exercises for a more intense workout. Try this bikini body workout for a great place to start.

Body weight exercises (like the ones below) are a great choice because they are challenging but, if done properly, put minimal stress on your joints. These exercises are also scalable, which means that once you are ready you can add weights for even more of a challenge:

Walking lunges


Tricep dips

Assisted chin-ups

Assisted pull-ups

Single leg dead lifts to a calf raise

Spiderman planks

If you aren’t successful in establishing a routine the first time around, don’t be too hard on yourself. Athletes have an off season and so should you. It’s okay to take a break from the norm once in a while as long as you stay active and, most importantly, keep your body in motion.