Does this story sound familiar -- You had a great strength and conditioning routine and stuck to it for a while, but then something came up and you missed a day at the gym. You figured you would get back eventually, but things kept coming up, and before you knew it, you hadn’t worked out in a couple of months.

We've all been there. And right now, you might want to head straight to the gym and get back in shape. Before you go rushing off to build up your muscle loss, you should be aware of a few things. Check out these fitness tips to help you on your quest to start rebuilding your fitness routine.

Avoid Muscle Deterioration

First of all, you should know that if you stop working out for an extended period of time, your muscles will begin to deteriorate. The amount of time this muscle deterioration takes is different for everyone, but it can start when you are inactive for just a couple of weeks. The best way to avoid this is to remain active every day. You don’t necessarily have to do intense strength and conditioning at the gym every day to maintain your fitness level. Going for a short run or doing a few bodyweight exercises like pushups and sit-ups can preserve your muscle mass and help you keep fit.

Work Up Slowly

When you decide it’s time to get back to the gym, take it easy to avoid injuries. Start off with some light cardio at a comfortable speed. Your body might not be able to handle any intense sprinting on the treadmill or an extended period of time on the bike. Your body isn’t used to the physical activity, so warm up with some dynamic stretches.

Remember--Your Muscles Have Changed

If you were lifting a lot of weight the last time you were at the gym, you won’t be able to jump right back into it by lifting the same weight. You might want to start out with some body-weight exercises before hitting the dumbbells. Once you’ve determined you can handle the weights, start with less than you were using previously, and do fewer sets. You just want to familiarize your body to the weights again. If you're an athlete, it may not take too long to get back into the swing of things, but it’s important that you know not to start off your return to the gym by using the same amount of weight as the last time you were there. That’s how muscles get pulled. If you're looking for some tips for first-time lifters (or to just jog your memory), this article is a great resource.

If you take your time and ease back into it, you should be able to get back into your fitness routine in a few weeks. Don’t get frustrated if your fitness level isn’t where you would like it to be. It will take some time, but eventually you will get back into shape and be glad you did.

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