What I Learned After 8 Weeks Off From Training Part I
Life, more often than not, is a complete and utter shit show of equal parts ‘bruh, wtf’ and ‘dude, are you friggin’ kidding me?’. The unexpected randomly thrusts our carefully calibrated plans into the chaotic void of “fml” and all we can do is bend over, grit our teeth, and just take it. Acts of God, random misunderstandings and miscellaneous responsibilities often leave us feeling overwhelmed, forcing us to allot our time to the most pressing items on our respective to-do-lists.
Stress is a bitch, and she’s hangry. The best we can do is wait out the storms and get back to the daily grind as soon as humanly possible.
Those who know me will tell you that 1. I’m a creature of habit and 2. there really aren’t that many things that can keep me out of the gym: through rain or shine, sickness or health, double shifts or beach holidays, and even the odd natural disaster, I usually find a way to get my training in. One could say that I am a little anal about my training, obsessed even; the gym is my temple and exercise is my meditation.
Luckily, I have learned to be less of a control freak in recent years: I’m not *quite* as OCD about my gains as I used to be and have eased up on the throttle of intensity; as such, I recently decided to go out on a limb and coronate my dream of getting my chest tattooed, knowing full well that I’d be unable to train during the healing process. Not ideal, but I had been training through some minor injuries and figured my body could take a break from the abuse: ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ I thought to myself.
So remember how we all agreed that life has a not-so-funny way of throwing the unexpected our way when we least expect it? Yea well, what was supposed to be two bi-weekly sessions turned into four… Which is why I’ve been sitting around on my ass for the last eight weeks trying not to lose all my gains…
The truth of the matter is that taking time off from training is usually not that big of a deal, particularly for those of us that have made training a discernible and consistent part of our lives: no, your hard earned muscle is not going to magically vanish and your fat to body weight ratio is not going to skyrocket. All you have to do is make a few adjustments to your day-to-day so that all the good habits you have worked so hard to establish don’t come crashing down like a house of cards that has been firebombed, pissed on and then cast into the eye of a vortex.
You see, for a great many of us, fitness and nutrition go hand in hand: have you ever gone on holiday and blown your gains in a high stakes game of ‘vacay calories don’t matter’? Yea, that’s not good. When life casts you into the shadows of the unknown, do this instead:
- Adjust your caloric intake to make up for a lower weekly caloric expense: depending on your usual activity level and resting metabolic rate, this could be a 200-500 calorie reduction in your daily intake.
- Make a conscious effort to get some movement in your day: walking and light cardio are two of the most under-appreciated tools in your fitness arsenal. Training doesn’t always have to consist of punishing upper body and squat til you shit leg days… 30 to 90 minutes of LISS multiple times a week go a very long way towards keeping you focused and on track.
- Keep track of your weight and measurements: you should be doing this regardless, but since most of us are somewhat lax when it comes to keeping track of our progress, it’s worth repeating. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR SHIT DAILY! Keep your fitness habits within your memory’s reach at all times and practice discipline.
- Avoid tempting situations as much as you can: as big a believer I am in flexible dieting, I am also a pragmatist at heart. If you can’t train for a prolonged period of time, and you know that you’re the type of person that gets carried away anytime you pass by a candy store, do yourself a favor and steer clear of your triggers.
In the end my weight and measurements stayed pretty much the same; matter of fact I even managed to lean out a little because of the care I took in tracking my calories. My work capacity unfortunately took a massive hit as expected, and I figure it’s going to take a good three or four weeks to get back into the swing of things; but honestly, at the end of the day, when we get our heads out of our asses and take a look at life from a bird’s perspective, we’ll see that a couple of months is nothing more than an instant in the time line of our lives.
I wouldn’t say it’s negligible per se, but it’s a relatively easy fix; you see, your body has some pretty nifty built-in survival systems that basically auto-save your gains like in a video game. Imagine achieving an impossibly high level in Final Fantasy only to get killed at the end of the game and then having to start over from scratch… Someone would get friggin’ murdered if that shit were to happen…
But biology is pretty awesome and we’re going to delve a little bit deeper into the concepts of muscle memory, strategic over training and intermittent over recovery for the science minded people out there in the next installment of this series.
About the author
Head Coach, Managing Director
Wordsmith. Lover of Medieval literature. Heavy metal guitarist. History nerd. Dan mainly works with general population clients and normal folks that want to achieve their personal version of the extraordinary. He enjoys learning about what makes people tick, and to that purpose has decided to pursue a PhD in Business, focusing his research on the psychological imperatives that drive customer behavior – Basically, whether you’re looking to lose a little holiday weight or up your nude game to 12/10, he’s got what it takes to lead to the Promised Land.