Getting Back Into Training

IT is the way with all of us who have made training (in martial arts or in weight-training) a truly serious pursuit. First, we accept and happily embrace the idea that our training is a lifetime commitment. Second, every now and again we find, for whatever reason, that we have neglected our regular training and gotten (ugh!) out of shape.

A cessation of regular training is by no means necessarily due to laziness. After all, illness can intervene in anyone’s life, and getting well becomes a priority, during which time training may not be permitted for medical reasons. Or unanticipated life circumstances of all sorts might be the cause. (Yes, sometimes the cause is laziness). But regardless of why YOU have been out of training ––– or perhaps neglecting some important aspect of your training ––– we want to provide you with some assistance that will help you get back in the saddle, so to speak. We’ve been there ourself . . . and over the decades we’ve trained and coached more people than we can remember. In every instance when someone has let himself go and wants to return to his regular training, our counsel has worked for him. And we do not say this to boast; we point it out only so that you will have confidence in what we tell you. We have, in the 55-plus years that we have been immersed in these disciplines, been through enough peaks and valleys to know our way around.

One of the biggest mistakes made by those whose training had been discontinued for any length of time is to attempt to return to the routine of practice / or working out that one had last been doing, before the extended layoff. This is crazy for two big reasons. First, you won’t be able to train “as you had been training” unless you gradually build up to it. Your initial effort to duplicate the sessions of physical exertion that you once did will only lead to discouragement at the least, and injury at the worst. Don’t do it!

You can easily lose 50% of your strength with a prolonged layoff from training (with weights), and / or a good deal of your crispness and sharpness in executing skills of close combat. The simple fact is that you are not the same person you were “back then”, and it will take a period of time during which ––– if you are sensible ––– you will gradually build back up to your previous level. Note this: A brief layoff between changes in a routine, lasting perhaps a week, is not what we are referring to here. Our concern is the fellow who has gotten out of shape, and whose strength, muscularity, and skill performance level has diminshed over, let’s say, a few months or possibly even longer. Even a solid month of no training will set you back to some degree.

First off, then: resolve to begin training again at a reduced pace and effort-output. Forget about even attempting to duplicate your last best efforts and performances, before you laid off.

Because the body changes considerably over time, we feel it is wise for anyone who has been truly indolent for a long time (say, a fellow who trained hard in his late teens or in his 20’s, and who wants to get back into training now in his late 30’s or later) to get a checkup with an MD ––– just to be certain that working out regularly will be compatible with his state of health.

When you commence training after a long layoff you are going to have a problem to some degree with discipline. You may have been used to grinding out practice or P.T. sessions for an hour or more non-stop; but back then you were “in the groove”. Now, it will likely take some discipline beyond what you needed previously just to do a brief 20-30 minute session. That’s OK. So long as you in fact do the brief 20-30 minute session, momentum will build. As the days and weeks roll by you will find your strength, performance ability, discipline, and motivation improving . . . just like before! But be patient.

How long does it take for an out-of-training person to build back up? It varies. But if you set aside regular ––– bu brief! ––– practice and workout times, it really won’t be too long. Young fellows usually are back to (or beyond) where they were within a month. Older individuals might take longer. But the length of time is hardly intolerable. In fact, after a mere two weeks of resuming regular, consistent training, it will feel quite easy to continue . . . and it’s all upward from there!

The critical point is to be a realist. Be sensible, patient, and systematic. You’ll get back into shape, but not overnight. Depending upon your genetics, you may bounce back very quickly ––– or very slowly. But a bouncing back period will be necessary. Strength, condition, and motor skills cannot remain at their peak during lengthy periods of no activity. So big deal. That’s a reality we all must face and contend with. (It really does provide a wonderful incentive to keep on training and NOT allow yourself to quit for long periods of time!

You must understand that no one begins training in combat skills and progressive-resistance exercise in his teens or 20’s and continues decade after decade with ZERO interruptions or setbacks. Life is not like that. The goal is always to keep training in your life and to come back to it when and if circumstances cause a temporary cessation in your regimen.

You can do it. After all . . . you did it before, right?