This article is for those who had to make a pause in training for any reason, for a shorter or longer period of time. This is a story we all know: smaller weights; terribly sore muscles after workout; you want to push it but your body says no. And if you are still forcing it, you can easily end up injured. If you are familiar with this scenario, no wonder that you have a hard time starting again.
Here comes the real challenge: the restart challenge!
Let’s face it: if you live by a routine and can go to the gym regularly, it is much easier to find motivation for workout: If you train and eat right, you can take progress for granted. You have a drive, and your goals are more or less predictable. But what if something unexpected happens? Well then, after a while, you have to face it: the weights you had been easily throwing around before, now make you sweat heavily. This is not an uplifting experience. Or, if you are experienced enough to know what you can expect, you might not want this whole stuff at all. I mean, the beginning. But you cannot escape that, you know.
So you start procrastinating. “Not today.” “I’ll start tomorrow.” “My buddy cannot come today.” “Oh, something unexpected interfered with my plans.” “It’s too hot.” “It’s too steamy.” “It’s raining cats and dogs. I’m not going anywhere.” And so on...
And that’s when will-power comes into play, spiced up with some mental tricks, if necessary. The good old Jedi way. It makes no sense to give up before you start. But what can you do to rewire your thoughts? How can you trick your ego for a short time?
Restart, or rather reset
Let’s see some tips and tricks to make it easier.
- I know it will be a little difficult, but forget about the weights for a while. Anyway, it is recommended to start with full-body workout routines.
- Imagine how great it feels after a split routine: every time you work out, you will feel all your muscles pumped at the same time. This is close to an orgasm, just to quote Arnold.
- Enjoy that you can considerably increase load each workout. This would be unimaginable when following your normal routine. Of course, this implies that you do not hit the weights brainlessly. It is a general workout routine, so you should handle it accordingly.
- Do different exercises. If you use different exercises, you won’t have any points of reference, so you won’t notice that you need smaller weights.
- Use machines. They are great for a general workout routine and it is much easier to make the mind-muscle connection than in the case of free weights. Of course, this goes only for the early stage of the general full-body workout routine. Once it is over, you should return to basic exercises.
- Enjoy that your muscles and whole body are getting tougher after a soft period. You can see the change after a week already. Later on, this will be your default state and you will get used to it, but enjoy it until then!
If you focus on these things, it will be much easier to handle the whole situation mentally, believe me.
Of course, there are people who don’t need such tricks at all, because they can’t wait to hit the weights again. However, if you had to skip more than two weeks completely, we recommend that you do the general routine for a week or longer, before getting back to your regular routine. You will be better off, believe me. Driven by enthusiasm, it is way too easy to tear yourself apart (literally). So, the above also goes for all of you guys and gals, who would continue from where you had stopped. Don’t do that! Most probably, you cannot make it. And even if you do, there is a huge risk of injury. Never do this, if you had to skip a whole week or more.
To cut a long story short: use your brains when restarting, whether you are under- or over-motivated. Because you simply must go on! :)
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