Written By Aaron Denney – Head Weightlifting Coach at Mako Athletics
The dust is settling and gyms everywhere are starting to get the news that they will be able to start opening their doors again. I am not a fan of the term “NEW NORMAL” but I think there’s a conversation to be had around how you should approach coming back to training after a little bit of a hiatus. We can’t expect to get back to our “NORMAL” training right away. This is a great time to take a step back and take a broader look at your training. Here are 3 things that I think are being overlooked in planning a return to the barbell:
1: What Are Your Motivations For Training?
One of the best things about the quarantine has been the space it has provided for people to get in alignment with themselves. I have seen people everywhere making huge changes in careers, relationships, and other aspects of their lives. We have the opportunity to do this with our training too. Before you do anything in regards to programming or anything else, I suggest you take some time and reflect. Ask yourself, “What are my motivations for training?”
If you give yourself time to sit with that question, you can get beyond the surface level answers you’ll get immediately. Everyone who is training is going to motivations like wanting to get stronger, healthier, and more confident, but those deeper layers you uncover could provide insights about yourself that you may not have been aware of before. Did you find some really shallow, ego-based motivations that have kept you from breaking through plateaus in the past? Now is the perfect time to shift those and create stronger motivations that will provide the fuel to push through difficult periods in your training in the future.
Write your motivations down somewhere where you will see them regularly, and when you are having a rough day or period of training, you will have a place to go to remind yourself of why training is important to you.
2: Setting New Goals
Now that you’ve gotten clear on your motivations, the next thing you should do is write out some new goals. Writing them is so important because it makes them tangible and gives you something to go back to later. Your goals will help direct your training and keep you focused on things that are important to you and your reasons for training.
The first thing you should set is a longer-term goal. Think 1-3 years out and where you want to be. I encourage you to be UNREASONABLE with this goal. It should feel daunting writing it but it should also get you excited. If you aren’t feeling both of those emotions, you need to rethink that goal. Is it too short-sighted? Does it seem easy to attain? Is this goal something you really want? Will achieving it give you fulfillment?
Now that you’ve created that longer-term goal, you can evaluate where you are currently in regards to that goal. It’s hard to know where you want to go if you don’t know where you are starting. Think of the little stops you need to hit a long the way. Those will be your shorter-term goals. Think of these as little progress checks on the way to your end goal. Having these acts as a good road map and makes that end goal a lot less daunting to achieve.
3: Build the Foundation
Now that you’ve got motivations clarified and have some concrete goals that you’re working towards, we can finally talk about what your training needs to look like. You just spent a few months where your training was limited or you might not have been able to train at all. As an athlete who has suffered some serious injuries that required time off in the past, I would treat this situation very similar to returning from injury.
After returning from an injury, there is always going to be a ramp-up period where you are working at lower volumes and intensity levels. You need to build a solid foundation of general fitness before you can expect to be back at peak performance levels. Your first few weeks back should be focused on getting familiar with the lifts again, building quality movement patterns, and addressing any imbalances or stability issues you might have. Even the best athletes in the world take time in their training to dial back, hammer the basics, and recover. Diving back into things too quickly is just going to increase your chances of injury and decreases your potential to achieve your goals.
The quarantine has greatly affected everyone’s training, but it created a really unique opportunity for us all to come back stronger than ever. Even if you didn’t train at all during this time, you have to remember that you haven’t lost everything you had prior. It takes a long time for strength to decay. If you can follow these 3 things in your return to training, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term sustainable success.
If you are looking for guidance on how to approach your return to training, I would love to work with you to establish why you train, your goals in the sport, and to build a program that meets your individual needs as an athlete.
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