How to NOT come back to the gym after a long break

Joey Scafidicrossfit tips, healthLeave a Comment

stretching on football pitch

Many in the gym know that I haven’t worked out in FOREVER! And for those that don’t know, last September I broke my 4th and 5th metatarsals on my right foot which required surgery and a pin to rejoin the bones.

Besides hobbling around the gym on the amazing iwalk2.0  I pretty much didn’t do anything until the middle of January when I went home to see my family in Florida. Huge mistake. I lost all motivation and I wish Ryan would’ve written his article on motivation a bit earlier!

While at home I wanted to visit CrossFit Rise Above, a gym that my brother-in-law goes to. He told me that they were having a Fran/Social on Friday and that it would be a perfect day for me to go and meet the owner, Eric. I thought to myself, “no way, i’m doing Fran. I’ll just go and have some beers and hang out.” (click here if you have no idea what Fran is!)

Upon arriving to the gym everyone was warming up and I thought, “ok, i’ll just do some empty bar thrusters just to see how it feels.” To my relief there was no pain at all! I started talking with one guy and he already had his bar loaded with 45kg. I thought, “what the hell, I’ll try just one.” No pain either! I started getting a bit more excited and I thought that I’d try the workout but only with an empty bar. Eric, the owner, agreed with my idea and now, after four and a half months of not exercising at all I was about to do Fran!

As I was finishing getting set up, I could see this guy out of the corner of my eye. Oh yeah, I knew exactly what he was thinking. “Look at that puny, little weakling. Fran with an empty bar?! Psssshhh…”

So….I grabbed some plates, threw them on the bar and now I was about to do Fran, as prescribed after 4 ½ months of inactivity (very ill-advised).

“3..2..1..Go!” 21 thrusters unbroken. 21 butterfly pull ups unbroken. “What was I thinking? What an idiot!”, I thought while my head was between my knees for about the next 5 minutes. Somehow I managed to finish the workout in just under 7 minutes. Nearly 4 minutes slower than my fastest time.  I crawled outside hoping to catch some cool air as I normally do at CrossFit Committed but cool air doesn’t exist in Florida. I crawled out from a hot sweaty gym into a hot sweaty parking lot and laid there for what seemed like a solid 30 minutes. And the pain that I endured over the next 4 days was all, completely, 100% my fault. Luckily for me, Florida is probably the flattest place in the world and Americans drive EVERYWHERE so, I somehow survived but if I had been back in Prague I don’t know what I would’ve done.

What’s the moral of this story?

Don’t be an idiot.

You’ve taken a long break. You’ve probably gained some weight. You’re weaker. DO NOT try and go back to the gym and pick up exactly where you left off. It’s a recipe for injury, lots of pain and humiliation:)
I should’ve stuck to my original plan of using the empty barbell, and a 15-12-9 rep scheme would’ve been even better but I let ego get the best of me.  

Once you’ve been cleared to come back to the gym it’s important to ramp up slowly! Expect to start with weights around 50% of your maxes and to increase by no more than 10% week by week.

Dynamic movements such as running, box jumps and olympic lifting should be eased back into, especially if you’re returning from a joint or bone injury. Start with a combination of running a short distance followed by walking. Start with step ups and then slowly ease into box jumps and start with muscle variations of the the clean and snatch.

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