How to Maintain Your Fitness When You Can’t Do Your Usual Workout

All it takes is some innovative and time-saving techniques.

It’s taken time and effort, but you’ve finally reached your fitness goals through hard work and a consistent exercise routine.

So, what to do when a vacation, intense work project, sick kid, or other disruptions to your usual routine wreaks havoc with your workout?

The information provided in this article, as well as a mobile fitness application, like Aaptiv, can help you find ways to maintain your fitness when life happens.

Be Creative and Don’t Stress

First of all, remember that you can return to your usual workout once you’re back into a routine, so don’t stress about having to modify your workout for a short period of time.

Look at this shift in your usual exercise routine as a chance to be creative and find innovative and effective ways to stay fit. You’ll be more successful if you shift from an “all or nothing” mentality. Rigidity in your workout may derail you from finding ways to maintain fitness with a different, but still effective routine.

Research has found that strength training levels can be maintained with only one workout a week at the usual workload. So, if you can’t do your three-days-a-week lifting routine don’t stress about having to drop to one session a week.

To maintain aerobic fitness when you can’t stick with your regular workout, aim for an intensity level of 70-75 percent or more for at least two days a week.

When you don’t have your usual time to exercise, you’ll better maximize the time you do have by cranking up to higher intensity bouts. Just be cautious and avoid pushing to the point of injury.

You should feel fatigued after your workout. But if your muscles or joints feel extremely sore or painful during or after a workout, it’s a sign that you’re pushing too hard.

Kari Myrland, a triathlete, and three-time Kona Ironman shares how high-level athletes like herself maintain their fitness when they can’t train at their usual levels.

She says that the most important factor to keep in perspective is the hierarchy of work and family in relation to exercise. Realize that breaks in training are part of life and can be successfully managed without losing fitness.

Here are her tips for dealing with breaks in usual training.

Get Organized and Calm

If you have a heads up and can plan for the break, get organized and figure out days and times where you may fit in a slot for exercise. Also, reassure yourself that one to two weeks of diminished training won’t make a significant difference in your fitness level. This is especially important for people who are a bit obsessive about exercise.

Choose Sleep

If the choice is between sleep and exercise, opt for sleep. Kari has found that her training is negatively impacted by lack of sleep. She suggests that, if a busy schedule is making you choose, you’re better off getting a normal amount of sleep instead of cutting back to fit in exercise.

Something is Better Than Nothing

Just try and do something, even if it doesn’t come close to your usual workload. When work or family issues cut her workout time, Kari tries to fit in short runs or bikes whenever she can. The duration of her workout is significantly less than her usual time. However, she says those shorter bouts of exercise help her maintain fitness.

Additionally, realize that it can take a week or so to build back to your usual workout after a break. Take it slow the first couple of days and listen to your body.

Use Resistance Bands and Bodyweight

When you’re away from home or don’t have time for the gym, maintain strength by using a resistance band or doing bodyweight exercises. Create a series of resistance band exercises with fast, intense sets of eight to ten reps. Repeat your circuit four to six times with short rests between each circuit. Try to keep the pace moving and avoid long rests. This workout should be challenging.

Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere and without any equipment, so they’re a perfect choice when you can’t get to the gym. Use the same circuit technique as suggested for resistance bands, with exercises such as planks, burpees, jumping jacks, squats, dips, and lunges. Just remember to ramp up your intensity by going fast and hard through your circuit and avoid taking long rests.

What to Do While On Vacation

If a vacation is the cause of a shift in your workout, think about how you can build in activity during your trip. Plan for the change in your workout. Don’t wait until you’re at your destination to figure out how you’re going to fit in exercise. Do some research before your vacation to see what types of fitness activities you can do. Beach workouts can include swimming, snorkeling, walking, running, and cycling. Check out what types of active excursions may be offered. Also, consult with the hotel or Airbnb you’ll be staying at about bike rentals or nearby hiking.

Before you head out on your vacation, check off the following points.


Don’t just assume you’ll figure it all out once you’re at your destination. Once you’ve determined what types of activities are available, make sure that you have the days and times when you plan on doing them.


Bring along the fitness equipment you’ll need. This could include workout shoes and clothing, resistance bands, backpack, or any other items that you’ll need for exercise.

A Break Can Be a Good Thing

Sometimes a break from our usual workout can be a positive one, allowing the body to repair and recover. Also, having to find innovative ways to maintain fitness outside of your usual routine can help reset your workout and open you up to new types of exercises and activities. Life will get in the way of your fitness plans. Having options for dealing with those times will help you mentally and physically maintain the positive benefits you’ve gained from your workout.

Check out the Aaptiv app for a wide range of innovative fitness classes—the expert trainers can provide you with the perfect routine to fit your goals and offer great alternatives to your usual workout.



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