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Troubleshooting Fitness: How To Deal With Setbacks

fitness setback

Everyone who takes the step to get in better shape has to deal with setbacks. When they occur, you can either adapt or succumb to the setback.

Just as many of you, I’ve experienced my fair share of setbacks and, at the time, I wished I had someone around to help me deal with them.

In this article, I’ll discuss some ways to deal with some of the most common fitness setbacks so that you can get back on track as soon as possible.

Dealing With Injury

If there is an inevitability of exercising, it’s that, at some point in time, you’ll  probably injure yourself. Really, if you think about it though, the entire point of exercise is to push yourself to the point that the body simply can’t get injured any longer.

At the time of the injury, it can often seem like the end of the world. It gets even worse if it happens to occur during a time that you’re actually seeing great progress. Unfortunately, during such times where motivation is present and things seem great is typically the time that injury occurs.

Most of us experienced with lifting weight will simply understand that, occasionally, injuries might happen. Understanding ahead of time, that an injury is possible, will help prepare you for whenever it happens.

At the point of the injury, you need to make a decision on whether the injury is serious or manageable. For reference, a serious injury would be severe pain or visible injury, while a manageable injury might be a slightly irritated back muscle.

If the injury is serious, obviously see a medical professional, but if the injury happens to be manageable, there are a few things you should do.

First, avoid the temptation to completely stop working out. Most times, small injuries are not severe enough to warrant avoiding the gym. From here, you should assess how you can continue to train around the injury.

Rather than quitting because of a small injury, it makes sense to train around the injury, ensuring that you don’t make it worse. For instance if you pull a calf muscle, there’s really no reason you can’t get a good upper body workout in. Just make sure you constantly evaluate the pain and injury, ensuring you don’t make things worse.

Rather than avoiding the gym after an injury, assess the injury and find ways to continue training around the injury for continued progress while the affected body parts heal.

Dealing With A Weight Loss Stall

Apart from having an injury, you can almost guarantee that at some point, you’ll hit a weight loss plateau. Unfortunately, this point is where most people stop dieting, but it truly doesn’t need to be that way.

When you weight loss stops, it’s because your metabolism has adapted to your current intake. Essentially, the body has adjusted to make things cost fewer calories, which means you burn less for any given activity.

Additionally, you can also expect a reduction of NEAT, otherwise known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This means that you can expect to move around less and also burn fewer calories when you do.

When presented with this, you have several different options. First of all, you need to evaluate your current calorie intake. This is important because it will dictate your next move.

If you happen to be in a fairly good situation, meaning you’re still consuming a high amount of calories, you can simply reduce calories a bit more to continue weight loss. I suggest taking your current calorie intake and reducing further by 10-15%.

If, however, you’re already restricting calories severely, you’ll have the option of either stopping your diet entirely or opting for a refeed. In the case of using a refeed, this includes a programmed increase of calories for a while to allow the metabolism to have a break.

By spending a bit of time eating more calories, you can allow your metabolism to reset a bit, which should then allow you to continue losing weight.

If you find that your weight loss has stalled, re-evaluate your current situation. If you’re consuming a large amount of calories, simply restrict a bit more, around 10%. If, however, you’re already consuming a low amount of calories, consider taking a break from dieting completely, or opting for a short refeed period.

Dealing With Life

Even though fitness is a priority for most of us, regular life happens, temporarily rendering fitness an afterthought. A family vacation, sickness, a bad breakup, or even death of a loved one, and just about any other thing you can think of, can happen and cause you to veer off course.

When major life events throw a wrench into our routine, some people simply abandon their fitness goals. Further, getting back into the game afterwards can sometimes feel like an insurmountable mountain.

If life causes you to stay away from the gym, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, just jump back in. For most, getting started is the hardest part, so if you find yourself second-guessing and questioning yourself, just go to the gym and get started. Second, remember that you’ve been away for some time.

Many people make the mistake of picking up exactly where the left off. Things like movement economy, strength, fatigue resistance and simply how well you do each movement, all change after extended periods of time away. In this case, it’s very easy to injure yourself if you’re not careful.

Essentially, if you have to spend a significant amount of time away from the gym, simply get started when you’re ready, just understand your ability will be a bit different from when you last left.

fitness setback

Troubleshooting Fitness: How To Deal With Setbacks

Even though it’s inevitable that you’ll experience a setback, experiencing one or even a few, doesn’t need to mean the end of your fitness journey.

By learning to work around setbacks, you’ll ensure that you continue to optimal progress for years to come.

About the author

Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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