Missed some training sessions recently? Fear not, your fitness is only 40 press-ups away
Whether it's because you're waylaid by illness, a holiday to Spain or a bout of ennui, sometimes your tri kit ends up sitting in the rack rather than racking up the miles. But it's never too late to return to fitness.
"Sometimes it's actually the best thing that can happen, because nobody takes the rest periods that they're supposed to," says coach and personal trainer Michelle Grainger (www.athleticexcellence.net). If you've neglected training, do this for a fast comeback.
Check the time
Take three or four days off and you may come back stronger. But after a week you lose about two to four per cent of your fitness per week. If you know you're in for a layoff, do short but intense efforts to forestall losses - 30 minutes of exercise are all you need to maintain fitness and muscle memory.
Build your way back
If you haven't trained for a week or more, start where you left off and do an abbreviated buildup, shortening the schedule but including the essentials. "Speed and power are the first things lost, in that order," says Grainger. So intensity is what matters most for a quick comeback. Do the following bike drill on a hill with a gradient of four to five per cent to increase power fast. One day a week go for a three-hour ride that includes some lactate threshold (the point at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood) efforts and a few 10- to 30-second effort sprints.
Cut to the core
Don't burn precious time in the gym. Just target your core muscles; they'll help you stay strong without becoming fatigued. Here are four moves Grainger recommends:
Lie face-down on the floor and use your forearms - elbows directly beneath your shoulders - and toes to prop up your body so it forms a straight line. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax, then repeat.
Stand with your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Extend your right leg behind you and balance on your left leg. Hinge forward from the waist until your body is parallel to the floor and in a straight line from head to heel. Return to start. Do two sets of 10 on each leg.
Assume the plank position, hands on the floor and arms extended. Bend your elbows, lowering your torso until your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Push up. Do two sets of 10 to 20.
Lie on your back, with your heels on an exercise ball and your arms by your sides. Contract your glutes and raise your hips off the floor so your body forms a diagonal line. Bend your knees and roll the ball toward your bottom. Return to the start. Do two sets of 10 or 20.