You’ve made the decision to start working out again, or you’ve joined a challenge to motivate you–great! Now how do you jump back in without your ego and muscles getting crushed and then feeling defeated? Because let’s face it, coming back is hard no matter how long of a break you took. Here are some tips to make the transition easier.
- Forget old percentages, workout times, etc. The goal in coming back is, well, coming back. You’re trying to get into a routine, and showing up is the most important thing to focus on. Pat yourself on the back and don’t try to keep up with your “old” self. Your old percentages likely don’t apply to your current fitness state if you’ve been out for a while. Go by feel, and only work at a weight that feels like you can keep excellent form. If you destroy yourself in a day, you may not make it back tomorrow.
- Don’t record a time/weight/score if your goal is attendance and effort. You can always opt out of writing a score, but to show up and put in work deserves to be acknowledged. Tell your coach to simply write “WORK” as your score, or “SHOWED UP” or even a smiley face. If you can’t help but think about what you used to be able to do, alter the movement or workout to a slightly different variation so there’s nothing to compare. Instead of a front squat, do a 1 ¼ squat or a pause squat. You probably don’t even have a 1RM to compare to. Instead of rounds for time, do an EMOM (a certain number of reps every minute on the minute) where there is no score.
- Don’t try starting a new specialty “program.” Coming off a break is not the time to jump into a dedicated olympic lifting program, a gymnastics program, and certainly not a competition driven program. Just do the class WOD, maybe modified, and have fun. Our regular program is a great balance of strength, skill, conditioning, and accessory work. Let us do the thinking for you; it’s part of why you signed up for CrossFit! Plus, working out with others will keep you more motivated than being off in a corner doing a program by yourself.
- Get your workout done as early in your day as your schedule accommodates. The later in the day it is, the more chances there are for crises to come up and throw you off your plan.
- Make a date to workout with a friend. Get a friend to commit to meeting you at the gym for a particular class or open gym time. You’re less likely to bail on someone else. If no one can meet you, ask people you see frequently to hold you accountable. Last week, I wasn’t feeling like working out, and someone who sees me all the time said “Do I have to hold you accountable to workout today?,” and with that, I grabbed my equipment and started moving. Sometimes all we need is a little friendly push.
- Anticipate schedule challenges, and put your workouts on your calendar for the week. Look ahead at your schedule and see where it makes the most sense to get your workouts in. Put yourself on your schedule so that time is blocked off and you aren’t tempted to schedule any meetings or appointments at that time. In week one of the accountability challenge, I made the mistake of forgetting to look ahead at my calendar. I got in two workouts, and then I remembered I would be watching my kids all Friday through Sunday while my husband was out of town. I did not get my third workout in, which could have easily been squeezed in earlier in the week if I’d thought more carefully about my schedule.
Even if you aren’t performing your best ever, you’re showing up for yourself and making your health and fitness a priority. That is a win! You still have a body that allows you to move and live, so remember to be grateful for all you CAN do instead of dwelling on what you can’t do in that moment. When you’re really struggling to remember why it is you work out, remember that every single day is full of choices making you more or less fit, taking you closer or farther from your goals. The reason CrossFit resonated with me when I first started is the same reason I have stayed with it for a decade now, and why I’ll come back to it time and time again. The combination of effective workouts and the amazing community are unmatched. Hope to see you in the gym!