4 Tips to Help You Get Back to the Gym After a Setback
4 Tips to Help You Get Back to the Gym After a Setback
It was supposed to be a ten-day trip to Hawaii, to celebrate my in-laws 50th anniversary. I had everything planned out. I was going to hit the resort gym every other day, maybe do some beach sprints like the Instagram fitness celebrities do… hell, even I packed Ab Workout

4 Tips on How to Start a Workout Routine After a Setback

Tip #1 - Ditch the Fatalistic Attitude

Without a doubt, your mental state is first and foremost when it comes to working out. The fatalistic attitude is all about defeat and giving up. It's the voice that says, "Well, you just ate one Oreo, fatty, might as well eat the whole sleeve," or "I don't feel 100% today, might as well skip the gym again… drop in the bucket at this point."

It's the feeling that everything is FUBAR and you might as well give up. Step one is to tell this inner-asshole to shut up.

In jiu jitsu, there is a saying: a black belt is a white belt that never gave up. It's true. Do you think Arnold never had a full schedule, between dogging ladies, shooting movies and Governating? Or that Ronda Rousey never got the flu?

Everyone has setbacks, some are major, but most are minor. Stop the "all is lost" business and focus on getting better. Don't think about where you are – only where you want to be. You will be surprised at how quickly you get there.

Tip #2 - Go Slow the First Week Back

Nothing is worse than coming into the gym like a wrecking ball after a hiatus and having that wrecking ball crash down on all your hopes and dreams because you lost your gains. The first week back sucks, so accept it. Settle into it and reduce your former training intensity.

Depending on how long you have been out, or if your break was due to business or illness, you might find yourself simply reducing your weights by ten pounds or you may need to drop everything down to a typical deload week. This is also the week to get your macros back on track. It will be a bumpy ride, and you will feel sore, but let me assure you, week two will be better by leaps and bounds.

Week three will most likely find you back to normal. Don't have high expectations out of this first week, or you will only end up disappointed and risk the fatalistic attitude setting in. Instead, have only one goal: get through.

Tip #3 - Know When Not to Push Yourself

Tire FlipsIf running on the treadmill sends you back into coughing fits, walk. If you have a migraine, stretch. If what you are lifting makes you feel like you are testing your limits, pull back. Drop a plate, drop a set. It is far more important to move forward right after a setback, than to level up.

Once upon a time, in my early twenties, I decided to do two tae kwon do classes back to back the day after I thought I recovered from a bug. I had to rack in those hours so I could qualify for belt testing. That night, I barely made it home, spiked a fever and ended up in bed again, losing yet another week. I also missed the belt test.

Leveling up will come soon enough, so don't risk a relapse or an injury.

Tip #4 - Know When to Push Yourself

That said, you don't want to take it so easy that you don't progress. Once you've got a week or two under your belt, put on your big kid pants and bring it.

If you feel good, do a sprint. If you survived, do another. You won't get back to where you were by deloading for a month, so stop holding back as soon as you feel you can manage. Now is the time to start pushing out of your comfort zone again.

Don't listen to family or friends that don't lift tell you to take it easy. They're just trying to lull you back into drinking beers around the TV all winter. It is more important to listen to your body than to your friends. You know damn well when you're ready. Call yourself out on your excuses. It's go time.

Final Thoughts

So, here I stand. I lost three-quarters of a month on what was supposed to be a ten-day vacation and Monday is staring me in the face, like "what you gon' do, punk?" There's a voice inside me saying, "Just wait until you feel a bit better – make it an even month and then go back."

Getting on my new lifting and jiu jitsu routine will be impossible. My body is still craving comfort foods. But, you know what? BLEEP that $hit. I am going to lift my new routine lightly and show up for jiu jitsu.

I may not be ready to spar, but I'm going to be there for drills and skills. I've got my meals prepped and ready. Because when this month is over, I don't want to be just starting out, I want to be halfway there. So, get up. Leave the setback behind you and get back to being the future-self you want to be.