There's something I was totally dreading this month because I knew it was going to be bad times for my muscles. All of them. And I was kind of scared of the pain that was headed my way. Not gonna lie. I wrote earlier this month about how much I've been struggling lately with working out. About how in the battle between exercising and not exercising, the latter was wiping the floor with the former. As in, kicking-you-know-what and taking names.
Fun fact: when you stop exercising for a month and then try to jump back into your normal routine at your normal intensity, your muscles fight back.
And they fight back in the form of soreness.
No, soreness isn't the right word.
Discomfort, you say?
Nope. Discomfort is totally a euphemism trainers use when what they really mean is pain.
Pain. Yep, that's a more honest description.
So, that's what I was afraid of. And you might fear it too if you've taken a similar break lately, either by choice or after being sidelined by injury, illness or some tough life stuff.
I can't really tell you how to avoid it entirely, but I do have a suggestion for making it more like standard working out soreness as opposed to soreness of the, I-can't-walk-up-and-down-the-stairs-would-someone-please-carry-me, variety.
And credit where credit is due. This was Nikki's awesome suggestion to me when I posed this little scenario to her at our meeting last week.
When you go back to working out, cut your workout by one or two-thirds. That applies to length of workout, reps/sets completed, weight lifted and other intensity markers (such as opting for the easier modification over the most challenging, even if you were doing the challenging one before).
Even if it feels easy in the moment, stick to this reduced intensity. And if one set feels like a lot? Stop after one set. That's totally fine. Get back into it and push yourself again when you're ready.
I'd also say, continue to respect your active recovery days. And make sure you're warming-up and cooling down properly. Include gentle stretching after your workout. Get plenty of sleep, and water.
And most importantly, don't worry too much. Be kind to yourself! Your muscles remember how to work and how to get stronger. So, even if you've taken some time off, you'll see improvements relatively quickly if you're consistent.
Your body has got your back. Literally and figuratively :-)