Updated: Oct 21, 2020
OUR SITUATION HAS CHANGED, BUT Our GOALS HAVEN'T.
If you've read Get Back On the Horse after I posted about it on Instagram, you've probably already taken away the major points that'll be outlined here. However, this post will be specifically catered to the #ShelterInPlaceOrder, how we can wisely return to our normal workout routines, and even changes we make prior for a more seamless transition.
You were crushing it. Going to the gym 5 days a week, you were feeling strong, got a good soreness going that made you feel accomplished, your energy was up and then...it happened. Pandemic time! Scramble to hoard all the toilet paper! Buy all the hand sanitizer possible! Watch the news constantly as the novel Corona Virus wrecks our global economy after a 2 month shut down...But not only is our economy in shambles, so is our fitness routine. Now that we're not able to go to the gym, what do we do? Even when the gym opens again, how to we safely return?
We're going to cover how the comeback starts well before the gym doors open, but more importantly, the 3 broader categories we may find ourselves in at the moment and how that will dictate our return protocol.
EVERYONE LOVES A COMEBACK STORY. LET'S START WRITING OURS NOW.
"One day ends and another begins. Whatever happened the day prior is washed away with the rising of the new sun."
For whatever reason, we as humans LOVE fresh starting points. "Come the new year, I'm going to do *insert New Years resolution." "Starting the beginning of the month, I'm going to start making coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks." "Once, the gym opens up, I'm back at it, FULL TILT!"
But why wait until next year? Or next month? Or when the gym opens? Why not tomorrow? That's as fresh of a start as it gets. One day ends and another begins. Whatever happened the day prior is washed away with the rising of the new sun.
Okay, enough with the Star Wars intro-talk. When it comes to getting back into the swing of things and authoring that comeback story, nothing helps more than, well...getting back into the swing of things! Just GO. Starting tomorrow, DO IT. I know, much easier said than done and not all that helpful of a point to make, BUT, the hardest part of resuming a workout habit is just re-starting. Re-starting as soon as we realize we've fallen off the wagon is a surefire way to leave no time for excuses and get back to it.
But what do I get back to? I have NO equipment! Nothing to wokrojut with! Well, that's why I made a YouTube playlist with 50 home workouts you can do with AND without equipment! Every Wednesday, I'll add to this playlist for our #WorkoutWednesday (you can see this week's workout here). If you start from the beginning of the playlist, workout out every day (which I suggest you take 2 days off a week AT MINIMUM, see 3 Golden Rules of Exercise), you'll have almost another 2 MONTHS of workouts under your belt. You'll be well positioned for when the gym opens again, and hopefully it will be before then!
But let's get into more specifics here. How do I start the comeback without burning out?
WE PUT THE PEN TO PAPER, DO WE LET A RIP?
Sweet, now that we cut the excuses and are committed to the comeback, how do we prevent further relapse? Well, take it slow! No point in going HAM and then injuring ourselves, taking us out of the game AGAIN.
My guess is we're probably going to fall into 1 of these 3 categories, and each one is going to dictate our protocol for working out. So let's get into that a bit more.
1. THE RECENT DROP OUT
These are the dedicated folks. 4-5 workouts/week on the reg, when the gym was open, of course. You've either been working out for a long time or you've recently drank the Kool-Aid and are all about it. These folks may find themselves having a great space to workout at home with a decent amount of equipment due to their passion for fitness. They only had a momentary waning of motivation when ordered to stay at home.
If this sounds like you, you were prepared for the shut down and you've been out only 1-2 weeks TOPS. Your first few workouts back, I suggest you double your warm up time. Make sure that diesel truck of a body is good and ready. Those gears may be a bit sticky but once up and running, ain't no stopping us! We need time to allow everything to loosen up after a brief period off. I don't think there are any serious losses that take place physically, rather I wholly believe we're just a bit groggy and need time to wake up the body!
2. THE NOT-SO-RECENT DROP OUT
These are my recreational folks. 3-4 workouts/week is where they hang out usually. They enjoy a good workout but it's not their entire lives. These are the folks who might not have a fully outfitted home gym but none the less have accumulated some equipment over the years. Maybe they're the ones who thrive on the group fitness model and need the energy of a class to stay motivated and held accountable.
If this sounds more like you than the recent drop out, maybe you didn't take the news of closure so well. You might've found yourself at a loss for what to do. It may have been 3-6 weeks without a consistent workout schedule. I would still focus on longer warm ups but I also wouldn't worry too much about hitting weights you normally used ie. trying to pick up where you left off. Chances are strength may have taken a bit of a hit and trying to resume your routine may end up hurting you OR resulting in disappointment in how difficult it may feel. At this point, we're looking for attendance, not performance. After a week or two of consistent workouts, evaluate how you're feeling and slowly start working your way back up to your normal output.
3. THE RETURNING STUDENT
These are the folks who have had a shakier relationship with fitness. They may have started and stopped a routine (or several routines) several times prior to the lockdown. They have little to no equipment and may be a little lost in general as to what to do for exercise.
If this sounds like you, first thing I would suggest is to seek out an accountability buddy (or better yet, a coach!) to keep you on track and motivated. These are the folks who haven't worked out the whole #Quarantine thus far, meaning it's been 2 months or more. Once we have a workout buddy or a coach (send me an email at email@example.com if you need a coach or extra guidance), again, on top of getting in those longer warm ups and dialing back on the weights a bit, I would greatly consider adjusting the overall volume you're doing. Example; you're used to doing 5 sets of 5 reps on squats once a week for your leg day. Maybe you only do 3 or 4 sets vs. the full 5 AND use lighter loads to get the muscles acquainted to the movement again.
Once we've identified what category we fall into and understand how to best approach the comeback, there's one last thing we need to do before getting to work.
DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE.
"Why would I want to do that?" you may ask yourself. We're never intentionally mean to others (unless, of course, we're hangry), but usually we're less than kind to OURSELVES. We're always our own worst critic.
If you've fallen off the horse, do your very best not to get caught up in beating down on yourself. "Man, I can't believe I haven't worked out this week." "I shouldn't be eating this because I haven't exercised." "I knew it wasn't realistic for me to do 5 workouts this week." We need to have grace towards ourselves and understand that THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW!! It's not the end of the world. The gym WILL re-open and the best part is, not only can we prepare for it early, we can ALWAYS work on our mindset.
We should be telling ourselves things along the lines of "This time has been crazy so I'll go for a long walk rather than sit inside all day." "This isn't the best fuel for my body so I'll have a little and then make a smoothy for extra nutrients." "5 workouts a week might have been too much but at least I made it in 3 times!"
The way we talk to ourselves impacts us greatly. Would you be friends with someone who always put you down? Didn't think so. So don't do it to yourself! You're the only one who has to live with you for the rest of your life.
We are all in the same boat and we all encounter detours here and there. The best way to get back on track is to just get back on track! Don't wait. Come tomorrow, get back on it. No excuses. Once started, take it easy for a bit! Longer warm ups, lighter loads, and less volume will help prevent any injuries as you make you way back to avoid any further time off. The more workouts we're able to log during this time, the easier our transition back into the gym will be. Most importantly, be kind to yourself! The world is already cruel and crazy enough. We don't need to self-inflict any further. Recognize you've strayed and instead of using that energy to pout, use it to get fired up!
Even as I write this, I find myself hopping back on the wagon and setting new goals, one of them being a sub 5 minute mile. Is it possible? I have no idea! But I'm going to try my hardest (If you want to see what my first week of training looked like, you can check out the vlog here).
As always, I hope you've found something useful in this post (and if so, send it to someone else who might as well!) but if you have any other questions, feel free to drop a comment below, send me an email, or reach out via social media!
Thanks for the read and I'll see you on the next one!