Is today the day you’re going to start working out more often? Or are you just getting back to what you used to do before all the holiday parties messed with your schedule? Either way, it’s time to get started. We’ve picked out six workouts that are perfect for your first (or second) day back.
Remember, the golden rule of re-starting is to take it easy. Treat yourself like a beginner, and before you know it, you’ll be back to your old routine without too much soreness or difficulty.
You probably have an idea of what kind of exercise you’d like to do, so choose the one that works best for you:
A bodyweight workout for your first day back
Pick three to five exercises from our list of bodyweight moves that actually build strength, and do three sets of five to eight repetitions of each. May I suggest: jackknife pullups, chair dips (or pushups), step-ups, and if you’re feeling spicy, trying your hand at nordic curls?
A free weight workout for your first day back
Now is the perfect time to do this dumbbell workout that includes Bulgarian split squats, a curl + 2 presses complex, single leg deadlift, floor press, and plank rows. I designed this as a home workout, but it’s also great for a gym on a crowded day. You just need to snag a pair of dumbbells—no squat rack or bench needed.
Go lighter on the weight than you normally would, since it’s your first day and you don’t want to get sore enough to sabotage the following workout.
A machine workout for your first day back
Machines are a great option for your first day, because you can pick as many as you like and turn them into a circuit. Check out our beginner’s guide to the most common and useful gym machines, and pick a handful you think you might like. I’d suggest these:
- Lat pulldown
- Leg press
- Chest press
- Seated cable row (not the rowing machine, but a thing with a weight stack)
- Shoulder press
- Adductor and abductor machines
For each machine, find a setting where you can do between five and 10 reps. Carry a wipe or towel with you, and wipe it over the bench after each exercise, then move on to the next. Repeat the circuit for a total of two or three rounds.
A steady state cardio workout for your first day back
Instead of getting started on a specific program, I’d like to invite you to take this first day by feel. You can do these two options either on a cardio machine like an elliptical, or outdoors with a pair of running shoes.
Set a timer for 20 minutes (or whatever appeals to you) and do a cozy cardio session. This means dressing comfortably, keeping the intensity low enough that you don’t feel like you’re dying, and maybe watching a show on the gym TV or your phone.
An interval cardio workout for your first day back
Head out (or hit the treadmill) for some intuitive running. Give yourself a five-minute warmup of brisk walking, and consider turning that into some easy jogging by the end of the workout. (If jogging never feels “easy” to you, just walk fast.)
Then begin the intervals. Run until you feel like walking, walk until you feel like running, repeat. It’s up to you whether you want the runs to be fast and short, or slower and longer. Play around with it, and have fun.
A more advanced running workout for your first day back
The progression run we did way back during the Turkey Trot Throwdown is perfect for easing into a new challenge. All you’ll do is two miles easy, and the last mile faster. Go by feel when deciding how hard to push it, and again, err on the easier side. If you’re on an elliptical machine or an indoor bike, think of this as 20 minutes easy and 10 minutes harder.
There are plenty of other great options out there too, but if you haven’t chosen one already, grab the one that fits you best from this list and just do it. Remember, which workout you pick doesn’t matter as much as whether you make good on your promise to yourself to get a workout in.
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