I've worked out a lot in the past few months. In fact, you could say I was one of those people who fully embraced the at-home gym lifestyle. But as much as I thrived with my running challenges, online workout classes, and experimental workouts, even I needed a break.
Naturally, I encourage and support rest days, but for me this turned into a rest week. And then a rest month. I took so much time off that I found myself a little nervous to rejoin my favorite online workout class. As I've decided to dust off my favorite UA HOVR™ Machina Running Shoes ($150) and get to moving again, I've found myself a little more resistant than normal.
To help me get over that fear and offer up some tips for anyone like me who may have found themselves in a bit of a workout hiatus, I turned to one of the instructors I tune into most while working out at home, Peloton instructor Selena Samuela.
Samuela, who tackles everything from running to bootcamp, shared with me her top five tips for any athlete — no matter the level — for returning to an active lifestyle after a break.
All about timing
"Take your time and take the time to go back to basics," said Samuela. In this instance, she emphasized the importance of focusing on form. "If [you're] lifting, don't let your ego get in the way," she said. "It's an easy way to hurt yourself jumping right back into where you left off. Instead, accept that you will need to build back up to it. That starts with form, good form will get you progressing faster and avoiding injuries."
Think of the big picture
Be sure to focus on total work time rather than pace if you're focusing on a cardio workout, explained Samuela. Although I've found myself frustrated that I'm not able to get my 5K pace as fast as it was in the spring, the important thing is that I'm getting out there and still able to run for 30 minutes. Like Samuela suggested, sometimes it's important to focus on the bigger picture of the workout. Details like speed and pace are things you can always build back up.
Make it fun
"Do the things you enjoy the most first," said Samuela. Whether that's a certain sport like running, cycling, yoga, or lifting or it's the social aspect of working out, finding what is fun to you about your workout is essential. If you prefer adding in a little social touch, Samuela suggested working out with a buddy or taking a virtual fitness class with a friend via an online platform like the Peloton App. As someone who has relied upon the fitness community more than ever before, I can attest that recruiting your friends for virtual workouts is a great way to stay accountable and excited for your workout.
Always warm up
According to Samuela, this is something you simply shouldn't skip. "Make sure your body is ready for what you will be asking it to do," she explained. "Don't jolt it into a workout — get that heart rate up first, get the blood pumping, wake up the muscles and the brain," Samuela added, noting that muscle-mind connection is crucial for a successful workout.
Don't skip the cooldown either
Equally important is the cooldown post workout. "Stretching can help improve blood flow, which in turn helps your muscles to heal," she said. "This can help with muscle soreness and enable you to continue with your new routine!"