How To Approach Training After A Long Break?

13th July 2020

So hopefully we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel and we will soon be seeing a return to the box and some form of training in the ‘new normal’. We have all been through a challenging and quite frankly insane time with lots of us having a complete pause to our usual routines with training also being dramatically affected. Fitness and the community-led training we deliver at Crossfit Nottingham has been a constant in my life for a number of years and I have found the last 3-4 months very difficult without it. Now that the time is fast approaching where we can get back to some kind of normality and routine, I wanted to talk to you about returning to training after an extended layoff and some things to think about when you do.

All of us have had a very different experience during this lockdown and we need to understand this going forward at the box. Some of us have been able to maintain a pretty consistent routine with a variety of weights, kettlebells and barbells providing a varied stimulus across different workouts. Others have shown their inventive side and have made barbells or created weights you can swing or press whilst others have had a million other pressures during this unusual time and maintaining their fitness has taken a back seat. For all of us then, we need to be more mindful of our return to training and how we approach this as a key indicator for injury can be a sudden increase in volume, a sustained change in intensity or a dramatic change in your training routine.


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We all need to realign our first couple of weeks back at the box and move away from percentages, RX’s or 1 rep maxes and work more from a perceived level of exertion and how you feel that day or that hour. A lot of us use the scoreboard as a barometer to give us suggestions or targets of weights, reps or rounds for that day’s workout and with the varied buildup we’ve all had these will no longer give us information that we can use. It’s a great time to become more internal with our approach and think about things like –

  • sleep
  • stress
  • the day’s nutrition
  • mood
  • general soreness as a self-analysis to gauge how hard we should be pushing and what weights we should be moving.

It’s also a great opportunity to strip back the armour we wear as part of our training rituals such as weightlifting belts, lifting shoes, wrist wraps or knee wraps and look at how we move under reduced loads and focus on getting that better before pushing to the extremes of our abilities where this equipment can offer support.

In these last few weeks if you have the opportunity and drive to hit a couple of sessions in preparation for being back at the box, what should you do? Without equipment, I would focus on the key movement patterns of push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, twist and gait. Make these movements look and feel great and spend time in them, building that familiarity again. If you have been lucky enough to be following James programming via the Zoom classes then most of these movements will be in there but possibly without a load. We could use this time now to increase our mobility and stability in positions which will pay us back tenfold on return to the box. Focus on areas that feel tight and listen to how they respond to moving into those foundational positions again. If you have weights then now is a good time to hit unilateral work like single-arm presses or pulls or single leg strength work to focus on those imbalances that we all carry that can get lost with that barbell in hand. Look after your wrists by keeping them supple and mobile as the transition to barbell work often leads to strains when positioning that load overhead. Core work will always give you great returns in the box environment, our shoulders are always in need of some rehab or stability work to help prepare them for what we ask them to do. Finally, if you have struggled for added resistance or weight at home it is more than likely that you have focused on the anterior movements, like the press-up and its variations, so be mindful of your back health and build back into those pull movements smartly, especially anything dynamic on the rig. Also, keep an eye on your hand health as if you haven’t been hanging off the monkey bars back at home then your baby soft skin will need to progress back to those muscle-ups and rig work.

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The outdoor sessions we have been offering over the last week or so have been a great opportunity to build back into the gym and have been programmed especially to cater for a gradual return to the intensity and varied, complex movements we perform week in and week out when we are back in the box. Hopefully, you had the opportunity to hit a session or two, in this build-up to being back open, as having a coach in person again will help motivate you and ensure your moving well throughout the workout. Remember if you can’t get to the gym then the Zoom classes will be continuing and these are being delivered to allow as much participation across the membership as we can, with the imposed restrictions, so that when the box reopens we can hit the ground running.

So, in conclusion, this transition back to the gym for many of us offers a number of challenges on top of what we are already facing and we need to keep this in the forefront of our minds when we receive that WOD brief, look at the day’s workout or look at other members scores. Monitor your recovery across those first weeks back and be mindful of the indicators discussed above to gauge how hard you should be hitting the workout and if an extra day’s active recovery is needed. Think carefully about scaling options and ask the coaches for alternatives if that movement just isn’t there yet. Let’s stay away from injury and focus on enjoying being back at the gym and being part of a community that during this current climate has further reminded to me how important it is. Big love and see you in the box very soon, Tom.


Author:  Coach Tom

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