ECLIPSE | MAY 5, 2021



295 W Wieuca Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30342

Phone: (404) 843-2663

We’ve shared about how to get started in a personal fitness program, and how to keep going, with and without equipment. With summer schedules ahead for many careers and with family and personal travel looking more feasible after a year of sensible precautions that kept many close to home, we thought now would be a good time to address how to resume your training after a break in your fitness routine.

How to Come Back from a Pause

The benefits of focused exercise and of making fitness part of what you expect from your week, your day, your life, do not always progress steadily up and to the right over the graph of time. For every athlete, there are peaks and, well, non-peaks. Even when you succeed in avoiding injury or illness, there are other forms of disruption that can put a pause in that progress. Staying in touch with your commitment, even when you are away from your usual schedule or resources, is something to accept and to plan for.

What to Expect

What we hear from people who return to their program after a pause of just a few days is often how much stronger they feel from the first day back. Yes, because strength training in particular – and aerobic training to some extent – depends on placing demands on the body that reach beyond what it has done before, recovering from that extended effort is an integral part of the training process. That’s why rest is an element in your personal program that should be addressed just as specifically as weights, reps, distances, and pace.

As a result, sometimes a pause in your program serves the same purpose as an enforced rest, and you feel stronger and more capable from the first day back. It is shaky to venture a one-size-fits-all guess about how long you can be “off” and expect to come back to the same workout you were doing before the pause, but four days seems to be something like a consensus among our colleagues and clients.

How to Resume

If your objective or the main thrust of your personal program is muscle tone and stamina, then you might try a slightly lighter weight for resistance exercises than the one you were using before the pause – and maintaining the high number of reps. On the other hand, if you were building strength and size before the pause, we might suggest coming back to the same weight you were using in the early sets of a muscle group and reducing the number of repetitions with that weight until you get a feel for where you are versus where you left off. Then you can make good judgements about whether and how much to add weight for subsequent sets.

For aerobic exercise, don’t forget that we’re depending on muscles to power the motion inherent in running, walking, jumping rope, operating elliptical machines, and so forth. Warm up those muscles carefully, stretch, and resolve to explore “long, slow distance” on the first day back. You’ll be surprised how your oxygen efficiency returns if you don’t demand too much too soon.

How to Maintain

With a little resourcefulness, you can often avoid a pause altogether, especially if the disruption comes from a change of scene or a change in schedule. Maintaining your fitness by maintaining your commitment when circumstances change is so important that we’ll deal with it as a new topic later. When we don’t let disruptions have the final word on our workouts, the comeback is easier. Sometimes it can even be an opportunity.