When I stopped training in 2018 due to what we were at the time calling OTS, I knew I wanted to maintain some pieces of my movement practice, if possible. I developed a yoga routine to give me a dedicated time in which to move my body everyday. I continued taking singing lessons, and found the process surprisingly similar to training. I became even more fanatical than I already was about foam rolling.
Significantly, there were three main pieces of my “normal” athletic routine that I maintained since day 1 of becoming sedentary:
I have been able to do pullups since I was a very little kid, and boy oh boy, I did not want to lose this ability! To be transparent, my pullup count did drop from 20 to 10 over my 3 sedentary years, because in general, it didn’t matter how perfectly I was training my pullups during this time, my body simply was rejecting training stimulus and refusing to adapt. However, I am convinced I would have lost more if I had stopped trying. Like the rest of my fitness markers, I am confident my pullup count will come back up as I am able to return to training.
“Tired? Do core. Sick? Do core. Don’t want to train? Do core.” I don’t hesitate to prescribe core work to my athletes, in pretty close to all circumstances. Most generally, this is because it’s easy to not work the core maximally, but still engage the muscles. So we don’t have to worry about breakdown and recovery to the same degree as with other strength or aerobic training. Secondly, the core is 100% essential for every movement we make, and I needed to continue to move healthily, and avoid triggering other joint or soft tissue problems while I was sedentary.
Mobility: in a similar vein to core being essential for healthy movement patterns, mobility work is crucial. It’s also something that often gets overlooked. Mobility is distinct from stretching, although mobility work often includes stretching. I have devoted a lot of time of the past three years to slowing my movements way down and practicing the correct muscular engagement to support the most precise movement patterns that I use for my sports.
When I am able to return to full-time training, I think my muscles will remember what they are doing, my joints will have the range of motion and muscular support they need to move well, and I can hopefully skip the phase of extreme soreness, injury, and lack of coordination that often results from long periods of not training. Though I was almost completely sedentary for three years, I continued to feel attuned to my body: ready to be strong and agile when my energy system is ready to support it.
You can join me for Mobility, by the way.