Good Afternoon CFTP,
This has been such an amazing week for me as an athlete. As many of you know I have been nursing a sprained adductor muscle. I hurt it back in the spring and finally stepped back and did not work out for the past 8 weeks in hopes of getting it better. Injuries can be very frustrating to us as athletes. This period of time off opened my eyes greatly to the frustration many of you go through when faced with injuries or ailments that prevent you from working out. I want to share with you what I learned.
First of all I learned how difficult it can be to step back from working out. It was tough to practice what I preach in respect to coming in and modifying while I heal. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I could no longer mark Rx next to my name. The first couple of weeks off were torturous but the longer I stayed away the easier it became. As I noticed improvement in my injury I began to get nervous that I would need to start working out again. My mind started thinking about how sore I was going to be when I came back and just how far I would have regressed due to the lack of activity. I started to put off my first WOD. I would find excuses to why I couldn’t work out this day or that day. I started finding things to keep me busy in the gym so by the time I was done with those “important” things it would be time to go. I saw all of you excelling and as a coach I was super proud as you passed up my lifetime PRs but as an athlete and competitor I was hurting. This period of time off has been a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.
This was what was going on in my mind and the emotions I was going through as I was recuperating. While all this was going on in my mind, my body was going through a similar regression. When our body goes from super activity to total inactivity a lot happens. I recently read an article that I’d like to reference. The article is called “This is what happens to your body when you stop exercising” by George Dvorsky In this article it takes a scientific approach to what happens to our bodies when we make the decision to stop working out.
According to Andreas Bergdahl, an assistant professor in cardiovascular physiology at Montreal’s Concordia University, regular endurance exercise leads to four major consequences:
- Increased ability of the heart to eject blood
- increased ability of the blood vessels to send blood to where blood is needed
- Increased number of capillaries (the vessels that deliver oxygen and ‘food’ to the muscles)
- increased size and the number of mitochondria (the “power plants” of the cells).
All these changes lead to the more efficient use of oxygen, as well as nutrients.
“Instead of sending lots of blood to your gut, kidneys and skin, all with limited ability to enhance someone’s performance, your body has trained its capacity to use the resources for maximizing performance,” says Bergdahl.
So the more we workout the more efficiently we use our energy. Now the question is; what happens when we stop working out?
“There are studies indicating a decline of 7 to 10% of VO2 after 12 days of sudden inactivity, 14 to 15% after 50 days, and 16 to 18% after 80 days,” says Bergdahl. “Maximal values for cardiac output, stroke volume [the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during each contraction] and ability of mitochondria to extract oxygen each decline along the same lines while the heart rate increases.”
WOW! This makes a lot of sense. Science has explained why I felt the way I felt this past week. I was inactive for 50+ days. When I came back on Monday and completed the WOD I was sucking air and struggling with the weights. It was frustrating because I had seen what my body was capable of before and I didn’t understand why I could no longer do it. While my injury is on the mend and I am able to now workout I have lost a lot and must understand that it will take time to get back to where I once was.
Harry Pino, a senior exercise physiologist at the Sports Performance Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, says; “It’s shocking to see what happens to the body, we start to see lots of changes to muscle, strength, and fat levels—it really deteriorates your structural well-being.”
The article goes on to say “Pino says that regardless of whether a person is a pro athlete or just someone who works out regularly, the effect of detraining on the structural system, typically between 10 to 28 days, will manifest as noticeable diminished muscle strength and a loss in power, including speed and agility, mobility, moving from side-to-side, the ability to stop on a dime, and a loss of coordination.”
These dramatic declines in performance can be frustrating for us as athletes but that doesn’t mean we quit. That doesn’t mean we don’t make an effort to get back to and eventually surpass where we once were.
I am on my way back to where I once was and I will surpass and break all my previous PRs. It won’t be easy. It is going to take a lot of work but luckily I am surrounded by the best support group anyone could ask for. Luckily I have all of you around me to push me and to make me better. I have you to keep me honest and keep me working hard towards those goals.
We all go through slumps in our fitness. This isn’t only about being the best; this is about being healthy. You all work so hard to get fit and to get to the level you are at. Some of you have dropped off and have lost your drive. I am pleading with you to come back and work to get yourself back to that level you once enjoyed. It isn’t about where you are compared to others in the gym. It’s about where you are in regards to your own personal health. I am also speaking to those of you who are at the gym everyday and are putting in the work… Don’t quit! Keep it up.
From time to time I get one of you coming up to me and asking me to put your membership on hold or that you need a break. I know sometimes you must and can’t avoid it but this is why I work with you to keep you active in the gym. I don’t want you to go through what I have been through this past 8 weeks. Coming back after an extended hiatus can be even harder than starting in the first place. Don’t do that to yourself.
While all the doubt a feet dragging did happen I am so happy I started back up. I worked out everyday this past week and while it was tough I haven’t felt this good in months. I am sore and I am loving it! Get past your mental blocks and get back in the box. Rededicate yourself today to come to the gym 4 times this week. While you’re at it dedicate yourself to healthy eating. Join the already growing group of CFTP members in Erika Peterson’s “Clean Simple Eats Challenge”. Emily and I started it this past week and it has been amazing. You can find more information about that here: www.cleansimplefoodie.com
Thank you all for being such amazing friends and amazing members of The Point. If you want to read the whole article that I referenced above you can find it here.
Rededicate yourself now to be better tomorrow than you are today.