• inglesestephanie

7 Tips for Working Out After a Hiatus

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Broadway Bod | Working Out | Hiatus | Tips | Fitness | Nutrition | Health

If you're like me, you go through occasional periods of living a more sedentary lifestyle. For instance, my family dog was recently put down, and I was so disappointed that I couldn't be motivated to move for more than a week. Or like last summer, when I had emergency surgery on my right kidney, and wasn't allowed to do physical activity for over a month while I was recovering. I imagine with this 2020 pandemic and mandatory stay-at-home orders, many performers are working out less, dancing less, and simply moving less (take my step count as proof as it went from a 20,000 daily average in NYC to an optimistic 4,000 while quarantining at home).

The question is, how do we transition from these periods of little movement back into beast mode? What is the healthiest way for our bodies shift into a full and productive workout routine? We often feel the need to make up for lost time and go full force into the first workout session back from hiatus, however, that can leave us vulnerable to over-working our bodies and even risk of injury. Here are my tips for diving back in with efficiency paying mind to the safety of muscles, joints, and cardiorespiratory health.

>>> Keep in mind that your rate of progress will depend the length of the break from physical activity and your fitness level prior to hiatus.

1. Let Yourself Off the Hook

Life happens. Everyone has to take a break from fitness for one reason or another, by choice or by force. The amazing thing is today is a new day, another chance to get back to work. Avoid using negative language to describe your time off, and talk about how happy you are to be back in the gym. Avoid hating on yourself for taking the break and instead acknowledge the reason for the hiatus, and then recognize your reason for stepping back into physical activity. Setting goals and intentions for yourself will make sticking to your work out plan much easier. You will see progress, and progress is addictive. Progress is exciting. And once you begin feeling healthy and strong, you will be less likely to stop.

Broadway Bod | Foam Roll | Mobility | Flexibility | Health | Nutrition | Fitness

2. Ease Back In

Take it easy. Start back with a shorter workout time and a lesser intensity than you were at before. If you typically lift weights start with body weight exercises, use resistance bands (I like FitSimplify 10" or 12"), or start lifting with a lower weight. If cardio is your thing, begin with a slower pace or a lower resistance, and a shorter duration. In general, move slower and save extremely explosive movement for later. Give yourself additional recovery time if needed.

3. Stretch and Roll

Be diligent about stretching and rolling your muscles both before and after your workout. Before you hit the mat, take note of the muscles that may feel extra tight and use a foam roller (you don't need anything fancy--I love my LuxFit) , a lacrosse ball, or a tennis ball to roll them, relieve tension, and increase your range of motion in those muscles. Next, stretch these muscles for at least 30 seconds or more on both the left and right sides. Proceed into your workout, and repeat the stretching and rolling of these muscles once your workout is finished. Be sure to include the muscles that your workout was centered around, for example, if you worked out your back, make sure to stretch and roll your latissimus dorsi (lats) and your thoracic (upper) spine.

4. Think About Adding Stability Training

While not necessary for everyone, stability training is an amazing foundation for strength training. If you've been out of the game for a little bit, training your stabilizer muscles could be useful, as they've might have been out of commission during that break from exercise. It also can help correct muscle imbalances that may have developed during time off. See example stabilization exercises in the chart below.

Broadway Bod | Example Stabilization Exercises | Core | Fitness | Health | Nutrition

5. Fuel Your Body Properly

This is the perfect time to get the diet in check. I'm not saying you need go crazy counting calories or macros (although, that is an option if you feel you can be consistent). If you're like me and fall off that wagon easily, here are a few options for you.

A. Pay attention to the overall makeup up of each of your meals. If you had pancakes and syrup for breakfast, chances are you are probably close to hitting (or surpassing) your max suggested sugar intake for the day, and you are ahead on your carbohydrates. Your next few meals should probably incorporate lean proteins, healthy fats, and vitamin rich veggies (keep in mind that while vegetables are indeed carbohydrates, they are nutrient dense and therefore provide more nutritious value than pancakes).

As human beings, we need a certain combination of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (Macronutrients) to fuel our bodies and help them operate efficiently. These numbers differ per person due to height, weight, age, and fitness goals. Click HERE to calculate your personal ideal Macronutrients, and use them as a guideline to better fuel your body for optimal performance.

B. Now this tip is more for those looking to lose or maintain weight, less for those seeking to gain. When you feel full, STOP EATING. Listen to your body. The human body releases hormones during digestion and absorption of food that communicate to the brain that the body is satiated. These signals are even delayed slightly, meaning we are technically full before we even realize. So once you begin to feel that feeling of satiety, end feeding time. Similarly, when we are running low on sustenance (on energy), the body sends more signals to the brain telling us to eat. If you feel hungry, feed your body--it is telling you it needs fuel to operate. When we listen to our body like this, we are able to give our body the nutrients it needs for effective physical activity without over-eating--without giving our body the chance to store excess energy in the form of fat.

C. Eat to fuel and recover from your workouts. A meal or snack with a combination or carbs (for energy) and protein (for muscle recovery) are what's recommended by dietitians. It is also suggested that you eat 30 minutes-3 hours before exercise, eating smaller snacks that are simple to digest the closer you get to physical activity. As for post workout meals, it is recommended to refuel with complex carbohydrates (quinoa, rice, whole wheat bread) to replenish that energy expended during a workout, and protein, again, for muscle recovery.

6. Don't Go Too Easy on Yourself

Broadway Bod | Squat | Resistance Band | Fitness | Health

Although we need to ease back into exercise, we should avoid babying ourselves. The first several workouts back will feel difficult, however, the human body is pretty resilient. After about two weeks of consistent movement, you should be over that initial hump and starting to feel better and even stronger. Hold yourself accountable, or if that's not your style, grab an accountability buddy. Set goals, make a plan, stick to it, and you will be well on your way to getting back on track.

7. Add Some Self-Care to the Routine

This should be a given and a constant, but be sure to take extra care of yourself. Sore muscles or joint pain? Sit in a hot bath with delicious smelling Epsom salts! Force your significant other, sibling, or roommate to give you a massage. Treat yourself to a delicious green juice or protein smoothie that you'd normally pass up (or make one at home!). Maybe buy yourself some new workout clothes if that's something that motivates you (this definitely helps me feel strong and confident during my workouts). When you feel good you will be more likely to stay consistent and diligent with your workout routine.

In Summary, Stay Tuned to What Your Body is Telling You.

I will say it again--listen to your body. If a certain muscle feels tight, stretch and roll it. If a certain movement causes pain, or cannot be performed with perfect form, regress the exercise. When you feel full, stop eating. And because you are a star and are nailing it, reward yourself accordingly. Remember that whatever the circumstances are today, tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to get back in action. Be proud. You know what to do.

Now go forth, be healthy, and break a leg!


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Hi! I'm Stephanie!

I enjoy sharing health and fitness tips for performers through this blog!  An actress, singer, and dancer myself, I currently audition and study in NYC. I'm eager to help you give your Broadway Bod the love it needs to thrive on and off stage.

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