Guest blog post by PreKure Health Coach Certificate student, Mitch Mullooly.
Mitch is a Paramedic with St John New Zealand, Chair of Paramedics Australasia, the professional body for Paramedicine, and a Health and Wellness Coach, who is currently completing the PreKure Health Coaching course. Having spent more than two decades in the pre-hospital medical environment, working in a diverse spread of metropolitan, rural and remote locations throughout New Zealand, Mitch has a long-held passion for healthy living and wellbeing within the shift-working and emergency services environment.
As a fanatical champion of the ‘Fit for Duty’ manta, Mitch has also added the domain of ‘Fit for Life’, as not only do we need to be fit for our working conditions, but ultimately, we must be fit and healthy for our daily lives outside of our work commitments – physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Having developed the coaching programme Eat Right. Train Smart. Be Strong, which concentrates on the three main pillars of wellbeing – nutrition, movement and mindset, Mitch has now increased her influence by creating an online community – Team ‘Fit for Duty, Fit for Life’, where she runs regular nutrition, movement and mindset challenges, as well as healthy lifestyle hacks, all with the knowledge and lived experience from being a frontline Paramedic, shiftworker, Mum and a Health and Wellness Coach.
Join our welcoming and supportive community at – Team ‘Fit for Duty, Fit for Life’ – Nutrition, Movement & Mindset or email Mitch at [email protected].
If you’ve had to take a break from training any significant amount of time, whether it was due to an injury, stressful times at home or at work, here are the things you should pay attention to when you start working out again after a long break:
You can’t just start where you left off
When you’re getting back into training after a break, you need to ease into it slowly. Start with lighter weights and easier movements to prepare your body and joints for more intense training later on.
Know your weaknesses and dedicate more time to working on them
We’ve all heard that full body, compound movements are the best way to go if you want to build a strong body and get more work done at once. Well, after a long break from working out, things may look little different for you, so pay special attention to strengthening those muscle groups that may need some extra coaxing along.
And this is important to keep in mind: if you’re recovering from injury, please do the exercises your physio or physical therapist is prescribing for you!
They may seem silly and ineffective if you’re used to doing bigger movements, but I see many people who never did their rehab after an injury they got 10 years ago and as a result, they often have some serious muscle imbalances now, which are much harder to fix later.
You need more time to warm up
I used to be that person who would jump out of the bed in the morning, walk into the gym or to the nearby park, do 10 squats and 10 push ups as my warm-up, and then jump right into my workout. I just didn’t seem to need a longer warm up.
Well, this has changed (and I have aged!). I now take a lot of time to warm myself up, because I find that when I don’t the potential for injury is higher. I do some core-specific exercises, a lot of dynamic stretches, and then work out. My warm up is as long, or sometimes even longer, than my actual workout.
Keep your workouts simple and short
Don’t overcomplicate your workouts if you’re just getting back to them. The actual workout part doesn’t have to be an hour long, and there’s no need to do 20 different exercises during one session. Take plenty of breaks between the exercises, until you really feel that you’re recovered.
Pick three or four exercises and do two or three rounds of them. Think things like squats (you can do them with just your own bodyweight or using weights if you’re feeling okay), push ups, lunges, and plank holds, for example. Keep the weight moderate at first, and if you do plyometrics, make sure to ease into those as well.
Keep it to around three times a week
In addition to keeping your workouts very simple, you also need to make sure you keep your schedule reasonable and give your body extra time to recover.
It doesn’t matter if your break was caused by physiological or physical issues, or you were just too unmotivated to work out for a long time, there’s no need to do more than three workouts a week, at least at first. If you push it, you may stress out your body and mind again, and you’ll set yourself back even further. Take it easy and be kind to your body!
Kick your ego to the curb
You may feel devastated when you find yourself not being able to do the things you used to do before. It doesn’t make any sense to compare yourself to that person who you were in totally different conditions. You needed that break for a reason. Just do your best to strengthen your body again and take one day at a time.
Pay attention to your body
Never push yourself through physical pain, especially when you’re coming back after an injury. Getting hurt is not worth starting the whole recovery process over again. Know your body and your limits. Know what your signs are, such things as extreme exhaustion, lack of motivation, nagging pain, or constant soreness, and take a break before your body forces you to.
As much as taking a long break from exercise sucks, it can also teach you something – patience.
Most people have to be extremely patient in slowly easing back to working out, which isn’t necessarily easy. What I’ve come to understand is that no success happens overnight.
When it comes to starting working out again after a long break, slow and steady really does win the race!
Eat Right. Train Smart. Be Strong.