I was chatting the other day with Emily K. after we both took a class at Mount Laurel. Emily was coming back after a long break from working out simply because life got crazy. I felt like I can also relate because I had to take a long layoff over a year ago for hip surgery where they had to reshape my hip bones because they never formed a full closing hip. We were trading ideas on what we found helps you succeed coming back from a layoff and I wanted to share them because coming back from time off is really hard and a lot of people will fall off a few weeks in simply because they try to get everything back ASAP.
- Forget your old numbers for 6 months. Don’t even bother looking at your numbers in Wodify or wherever you store them. When you stop working out with weights, you lose the strength in those movements. If you look at what you used to do before every workout you set up a bad situation where you either are unhappy because you know you are doing lighter weight then you used to or you push yourself really hard just to reach your old weights – which leads us into tip 2.
- Just move and enjoy that you are moving. This tip could help a lot of people even those that aren’t coming back from a break. When you are first coming back, don’t try to go as hard as possible, don’t worry about your time, and don’t worry about the weight on the bar. If you are coming off a long break, shoot for 60-70% effort in the whole class. A lot of people come back with a vengeance and because they know how to move fast and want quick results – they go 100%, 5 days a week for a week and a half – and then they can’t move and have to take 2 weeks off. 70% effort does not mean less progress than going 100%. In fact, you can get continually results and progress doing every workout at 80% intensity forever. 100% effort every day does not mean maximal results, it means that you are going to burn yourself out.
- Start with less days and work up. If you use to come 5 days a week and are coming back, don’t just force yourself to do 5 days. This is the one that bit me hard when I came back. I would force myself to do 5 days no matter how sore and tired I was. What happened was I would through 4 days and feel good. Then I would force the 5th day and drag ass through the whole class. Then I would take Sunday off, come in Monday and drag ass through that workout and it would stall my progress because my body was just so tired. Once I learned to drop to 3 classes a week for a month, then progressed to 4 – I progressed so much faster.
- Your goals may change. The last thing to remember is that your WHY for working out may change over time. I started Crossfit over 12 years ago and still love it, but how I approach Crossfit and what I want to get out of it has changed drastically over time. For example, my first 4 years of Crossfit were all about learning new things and getting moving. I generally spent 60 minutes a day working out, 6 days a week. I focused on learning how to move and just genuinely enjoyed getting a little fitter every workout. Then I had 6 years where I was focused on getting as strong as possible and really enjoyed doing weekend competitions and pushing the envelope of what I could do physically. During this time I worked out 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. Now I am in a stage where I like to come to the gym to socialize with good people and keep moving to be healthy. I workout 60 minutes a day, 4 days a week and honestly I try to stay in the 80-85% intensity range every class. I know at some point I may get back to wanting to training to increase my lifts and compete again or I may not and that’s all good. It is just important to know that when you come back, your goals and approach may change and that it is important to think about what you want to accomplish by coming in to the gym. The main goal for us is always to keep you moving and healthy.