Since I’ve had a training log for over several years, I realized that no matter how consistent or disciplined I am, something happens every few months where I cannot workout consistently for a week or 2 or more. I realized if I’m having this issue, whose life revolves around staying active and training others, that other people must definitely be having this issue too.
The reasons for the inadvertent breaks are numerous:
- Difficulty with time management (especially if you’re raising kids)
- Going on a mini vacation and you have trouble getting back into the groove
- Feel a niggling pain and need time off
- The internal motivation runs out (potentially burnout from overtraining)
- Boredom of the initial goal sets in
I’m here to tell you all of this is normal.
I’m one of the most active people I know of in my social circle and even though I live a balanced life mixed with upper body strength training, yoga and bicycling regularly (with the random hike, slackline, surfing, skiing session), there always comes a time when I inadvertently fall out of my regimen. So I’ve come to terms with realizing that there will always be some unexpected downtime. Accept that this is a normal part of life.
Deload weeks and rest days are recommended every so often
I’ve written extensively on the importance of deload weeks and rest days. It’s a necessary evil. Make it an expected part of your training regimen that there will be an off-week eventually. If you don’t do it, nature will force you to do it.
The most common reason I take time off is to ensure injury prevention.
The moment I feel a tinge in my wrists, a neck strain, or my shoulder feels pain, I respect that signal and take a break from any exercise that aggravates the issue. The slogan of no-pain, no-gain is bad advice. Pain is not normal. I will always take time off to heal rather than push through and risk developing tendonitis or any injury that advances into something major that forces me to take even more time off.
It might take a couple days to a couple weeks to get completely better but it’s a necessary evil. It’s more important your muscles, tendons and ligaments are fully healed before you push for progress otherwise tendinitis will rear it’s ugly head and you have to wait even longer to recover. In the meantime, you gotta find ways to workout that don’t bother the potentially injured area.
Injury prevention is necessary to ensure longevity.
I’ve met too many older folks who simply pushed themselves way too hard relentlessly in their younger years and their injuries compounded so hard that they simply cannot do many exercises. Please don’t be that person. Whether you’re young or old, you must keep the risk-to-reward ratio in mind and think long-term.
What to do if you’ve taken a break for a couple weeks or more?
First of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. But strive to jump into a workout, any workout (even a shorter version of it than normal) to get the ball rolling again. You might feel out of practice and just weaker at the start but the most important thing is to just start and then force yourself to workout again within 48-72hrs to build momentum. Building momentum is the key. Once you have some inertia you’re back in business baby!
Alternative solution for advanced trainees burning out from doing the same exercise
If you’re an advanced trainee who has been doing a very difficult progression exercise for several months, there will come a time when you get mentally exhausted from doing the same exercise over and over again. You’re subconsciously checked out and feeling super unmotivated even though it was part of your original goal. It might be necessary to pick a new goal (or related) and put the original exercise on maintenance. This will invigorate your psyche and motivate you in a whole new way. And don’t forget, play and variety is the spice of life!
All in all, all of life is cyclical
It’s normal for there to be highs and lows when it comes to your training consistency, nutrition/diet adherence and everything else in between. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Understand that slower is faster especially as you advance more and progress to harder exercises where good form becomes even more important. There are going to be downtimes and that’s normal. Playing the long-game is always going to be the biggest thing to keep in mind.
Make sure you’re keeping a training log so you know how long it’s actually been since you last worked out and recognize patterns that would otherwise have been impossible to note. And read my article on the importance of rest days and deload weeks to know how to pickup on the signs of overtraining and what to do about it. Hope you found this helpful!