For those who celebrate Hari Raya, let me take this opprtunity to wish Selamat Hari Raya to you and your family. Hope you had a wonderful celebration. To the rest who don’t celebrate, well I know you enjoyed the long break nonetheless… I know I did.
Anyway, after a long break, good food and just relaxing, getting back into your exercise routine can seem like a daunting task. Just the idea of going back to the gym will make you feel like you have ball chained to your legs. It’s important to remember that whenever you have a break from the gym and your workout, its vital that you start slow. Meaning you can’t just jump back into it and push yourself like you did before you took your break. Before you took your break, you were performing at your peak… but now that you have taken a break, you will have to ease back into that until you reach the peak again.
Normally what I like to do is to give myself 3 weeks before i get back to my peak. That way, I ensure that I have a steady and uniform progression from now until I reach my peak. Eg. If you can bench press 160 pounds, divide it up by 4 (you will be performing at your peak on the 4th week). Hence start out with 40 pounds for the first week, 80 pounds for the 2nd week and so on. By the time you reach your 4th week you will be back to where you left off. Of course you can reduce the time you take to swing back to normal, but personally for me, the best results I have achieved is when I spread it over 4 weeks. This helps to prevent injury and also prepares your body slowly before its thrown back into its peak. Also, since you are doing lighter weights, i make it a point to do more reps... i usually do as many as i can. This way the work out still feels like a workout and not just a waste of time.
For cardio, you want to start out at a lower intensity and lower speed and then work your way up again. Again... allow about 3 weeks and then on the 4th week you can push yourself as usual. If you like to run and usually run for about 1 hour, start by doing 15 minutes and then working your way up. What I like to do for running is to do 15 minutes of running and then walking for 5 minutes, then doing 15 minutes agaain and then walk again and keep the overall time to 1 hour. As time goes by, increase the 15 minutes gradually until eventually on the 4th week, you are back to running for 1 hour.
The other important reason for starting slow is, everytime you feel like you don’t want to go to the gym, just tell yourself “hey, its going to be a light and easy work out”. By telling yourself this, you will be convincing yourself that the work out isn’t going to be that torturous… hence making it easier to go back to the gym. The reason why most of us feel heavy hearted to go back to the gym, is because our last memory of gym and working out was when we were at our peak. However all the days of not working out makes us realize it is difficult to push that hard. Hence listen to your body and start slow. By the time you go through one week, you will be looking forward to the next week and soon you will be looking forward to reaching your peak again. That’s the result you want… where you look forward to going to the gym again.
So starting slow is the correct way to go about re-starting your routine since it helps to prevent injury and also prepares your psychologically to get back into the groove. This technique can be applied any time you take a break, be it festival time or just when you go on a holiday. It really helps to make a big difference. So try it out and see. As usual, I look forward to hearing your comments on this and any suggestions you may have on how you deal with post holiday work outs.