How to Make the Most of a Workout Slump

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Is it possible for a break in your fitness routine to be the best thing for your health? You might be surprised, but I think it’s possible for a lull in your workouts to be exactly what you need to push through to the next level. I know this because it recently happened to me.

Lately, I have been so busy at work that if I can get in 3 workouts a week, I’m happy. This is a huge shift from my usual 6-day routine. Back when I was unemployed, I could easily spend 3 hours a day at the gym. Now, not so much. I thought I had figured out the rules of the game: work out as hard as you can, as much as you can. But the truth is, you’ve got to work smarter, not harder. So instead of feeling bummed about my slump, I wondered, is it possible that this can actually help me succeed in the long run? Is there a silver lining to my slacking off? And I realized that there are in fact some great benefits to a lull in your workout regimen:

A physical break from your normal activities may help your body to repair and get stronger.
Going at it as hard as you can, as often as you can, can lead to injuries. Your body needs to repair and rest in order to get stronger. A short break every now and then, or a less intense workout schedule, may help your body to heal. Not all injuries are created equal, and people often ignore overuse and overtraining injuries. Dialing it back may help to prevent these kind of injuries that can build up over time and sideline you in the long run.

A shift in your daily routine can help to shake things up and keep you from getting bored.
Day in, day out, chugging along on that treadmill or elliptical, doing the same weight routines, going to the same classes…whatever you’re used to, it can get boring. You may get so comfortable with the routine that you start to get bored and not enjoy it as much. Workout out should be fun! Taking a break or having a different workout schedule may combat the monotony of your routine.

Your workouts may be more effective when you do them less often.
Yes, it’s possible! Because when your body gets so used to doing the same things, it gets more efficient and adapts to your activities. The body is an amazing machine and figures out how to work with what it’s got. Notice how when you start something new, it’s often difficult…but as you practice, it gets easier? Your body adapts to your workouts as you continue to do them, so if you do the same things over and over, they may become less effective. Taking a break and switching it up helps to keep your body guessing and can up your fitness level.

You may find that you miss your workouts so much that you learn to appreciate them more.
Maybe you don’t love working out, but you do it because of all of the benefits (weight loss, energy, better sleep, improved mood, the list goes onnnnnnn). Well, if you aren’t able to workout as much for reasons beyond your control, you may develop a new appreciation for it. Not being able to workout could make you want to do it even more, which could help you to figure out a way to fit it into your schedule again and enjoy it more when you get back into it.

A break might help you to see certain elements that you could improve upon.
When you’re in the zone, it’s hard to see a different perspective. But when you take a step back, you might see things you didn’t notice before. For instance, awhile back I had been doing an upper-lower body split lifting routine for months. I realized I could do a four-day split that would help me to target each muscle group better and do it in less time. Taking a step back and evaluating the situation can help you to realize ways to improve it.

A slump may prompt you to explore new fitness avenues you hadn’t thought of, which may keep you committed in the long run.
There are so many alternatives to the gym when it comes to working out. Try a Pilates class, ballet, spinning, swimming…whatever you can fit into your routine. Check on google maps to see what fitness options are near your office for those busy days and see how you can fit in a new class. It may open up a whole new realm of fitness possibilities you hadn’t thought of before.

Most importantly, remember that working out is part of an overall happy, healthy life. Whatever you’re doing that is keeping you from the gym- being busy at work, social events, new friends or relationships…all of these life experiences have potential to help you build confidence in yourself, which could help you to push further in your fitness. For example, if you’re busy at work, you may develop a new sense of confidence in your work abilities. The confidence you get from that may push you to try something you haven’t tried before, because you now realize that you can do great things when pushed outside of your comfort zone. Find inspiration within yourself to go the extra mile. The confidence that you gain from other areas of life is directly transferable to your fitness!

So, you can be bummed about your workout slump or you can use it to your advantage. It’s all in how you look at it. There’s no right or wrong way to workout. We all play our own game. And no one can play yours better than you. Champions don’t let things get in their way, they tackle roadblocks head on and learn from them. If you look hard enough, you can find the silver lining in your workout slump and allow it to push you even further.

A Firework in Progress

Courtney Wienslaw

My blog chronicles my 90-pound weight loss transformation and encourages people to live a healthy, happy, fit, and balanced lifestyle.

4 Comments
  1. these are great tips! I had to take a running break after the NYC Marathon. I just did not want to run AT all. But then 2 months later I finally really wanted to go out for a run again. Sometimes you need that break to desire it again. Just started following you – can’t wait to read more of your posts!

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