What’s the best way to approach training after a period of time off? While you may think jumping in at the same level of intensity as before is the right choice, this could be a very bad decision! There are a lot of factors to consider when getting back to your old training!
1) Where are you at in your recovery?
Most people can recognize the impatience you may feel to get back to the training you love, but understanding your limitations is key to getting back to your old self as soon as possible. If you were in recovery from an injury, you need to make sure that your doctor has cleared you and you have returned to your usual day-to-day activities. If you are still noticing a lot of movement limitations, training may not be a good idea. Consult with your doctor on what is the best plan of action.
If you just took a break due to scheduling, or anything other than an injury, you still need to ease into things. You may notice some new tightness in your body from the extra rest. You could have also lost some strength or stamina in your time away. This is all ok, but should be noted and taken into consideration!
It’s also important to mention that while it may be frustrating to have to take steps backwards, you'll adjust and get back on track soon. Just stay focused and committed!
2) What’s your current strength and stamina levels?
It’s so important to reduce the stress on your body after a break. Test the waters and find out how strong you are now. Start with lower weights and less reps than you usually do. See how your body responds to that. If all goes well you can start upping the weight. Pay close attention to any new tightness, pain, or discomfort you may have. These could be new things to address.
Also, you may not be able to complete the same hour-long workout that you used to. Maybe after 30 minutes you are exhausted and it’s ok to stop! The last thing you want is to over-exert yourself and end up with an injury or the need to take another break to recover.
3) How are you with the basics?
Sometimes after time away from working out, you’ll notice that you have a lot of form issues and struggle with muscle engagement. Maybe you need to go back to the basics. Get out that mirror and check your form. Focus on mind-muscle connection. Always make sure you know what muscles should actually be engaged during each exercise and focus on making sure those are the primary muscles you are feeling. If you struggle to engage the proper muscles, you may have some overactive or underactive muscles that need to be addressed!
4) Pace yourself
It’s ok to take things slow and steady when coming back to your training. A study by The New York Times noted that muscle memory doesn’t just apply to being able to remember how to do specific movements, but also applies to the body wanting to regain muscle that was lost. So if you take a break from training, your body will want to get back to a stronger, more muscular place as fast as it can, so the body will regain that muscle faster than the first time around. Remember that you had to build up to longer and harder training sessions, and it’s ok to take your time to get back there!
5) Know when it’s time to rest!
The most important thing in restarting your fitness journey is to pay attention to your body! Are you feeling new pain? Do you feel weak? Are you constantly exhausted? Then it’s probably time to rest! And make time to rest anyway. Your body needs rest days to recover and it needs even more time to fully recoup when adjusting to the stress again. Make sure to be taking those 1-2 rest days and know it’s ok if you need to take additional ones!
So while getting back to your training lifestyle may seem stressful, approaching it with a healthy mindset and knowing there are limitations, can help set you up for success. So be mindful in your approach and be patient! You’ll get back to your old routine soon enough and move forward!
Until next time… and remember fitness is for all!