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How to modify your training and still progress even when mum-life gets hectic

When life gets lifey, it’s often your training that’s the first to go. If you’re active and enjoy movement, you can still train in a way that honours how you feel – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Olivia Park explains how to modify your training to still progress even when mum life gets hectic.

Jun 3rd • 
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It’d be nice to get 9 hours of sleep every night, crush your nutrition and hydration like it’s your day job and feel zen even in the most stressful moments. That’s not the reality – especially when there are small humans to look after.

When life gets lifey, it’s often your training that’s the first to go. If you’re active and enjoy movement, you can still train in a way that honours how you feel – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Look at what is under your control. By becoming more aware of how you feel each day you can modify your training to fit you.

You’re not meant to be boxed into fitness. Fitness should fit your life.

First, let go of expectations. Pivots in training (intensity, sessions you can do, time you have) might lead to different outcomes. Make room for some new intentions and allow those intentions to shift each day as you need them to.

Although things might not be ideal, it doesn’t mean you will lose progress. When we let go of linear thinking we can be open to the possibility of things looking and feeling different.

Setting goals doesn’t have to look like:

  • Increased reps
  • More weight on the bar
  • A faster 5km time
  • How much you sweat
  • How hard you breathe

They can look like:

  • How well you moved
  • Pulling back on intensity when you’re exhausted – being smart
  • Putting your phone away and dropping into being there, having YOU time
  • Walking out feeling a little more energised
  • Less pain

When you create space for different performance goals, you’ll still progress every single time you work out.

Three major factors that contribute to your performance in a workout are stress, sleep and nutrition. Assess how you are feeling from the questions below. Rate your score and adjust your workout appropriately.

Stress check in:

  • Are you breathing from your chest, rather than your belly?
  • Are you finding it difficult to switch off from things that are going on outside of the gym?
  • Is your body feeling under recovered or sore?

Sleep check in:

  • Did you sleep less than 7 hours?
  • Did you wake up in the night and find it difficult to fall back to sleep?
  • Did you crush coffee just to get through the day?

Nutrition check in:

  • Do you feel dizzy or weaker than usual?
  • Are you hydrated?
  • Have you not eaten since breakfast?

Your score:

Answered 3+: Whoa back!
Answered 2+: Move with caution
Answered 0-1: Hit it – mindfully

Whoa back!: Train at 5-6/10 intensity
Keeping things low impact is going to serve you best today. You still want to move but set the intention to leave the gym feeling a little more energised than when you walked in. Do a movement flow, focus on quality movement, breathe well, get a light sweat on. Allow yourself to just be there. You’ve committed to movement so give yourself the grace and space to be in it and let everything be on hold for this time. If the thought of being in the gym feels hard, get outside with a podcast – or even better, unplugged.

Move with caution: Train at 6-7/10
Move into maintenance mode. Let go of any expectations. If things feel hard and heavy, take it down. Remind yourself of today’s baseline and let your ego go. You know your body isn’t functioning optimally right now because of – life! But that’s okay, it’s temporary. You may find that after warming up things are feeling a little easier. Just move with caution and adjust along the way with reps, weight, and sets

Hit it – mindfully!: Train at 7-8/10
Take note of the limiting factor and consider what you can do to help yourself in this moment. Have you not eaten since breakfast? Grab a snack on the way to the gym to help regulate your blood sugar. Haven’t had enough water? Focus on what you can get in for the rest of the day. Take this as a lesson for your next session and what you need to prioritise. Get after it, but just keep checking in throughout your session: how am I feeling?

Modify your workout with these variables:

  • Tempo: Take down the weight and focus on a slower tempo, e.g. 21X1 vs 3331
  • Volume: do fewer sets or reps
  • Aerobic threshold: If you have high intensity intervals programmed, opt for lower intensity aerobic work
  • Extra volume: just do your main lifts, skip the conditioning
  • Duration: commit to a certain amount of time and get in, get out

Whatever category you fall into, you can always win when you set an intention for the day. It could be as simple as just getting there! That is enough. As soon as you walk through the door, you’ve won. Whatever happens in the remainder of the training session doesn’t matter.

If you choose to skip altogether, make that decision then move on. You can make it up another day or not make it up if you don’t want to – but move on. Make a conscious decision informed from checking in with yourself and take the next best step.

Olivia is a women’s health and performance coach who helps women find liberation from the ‘shoulds’ of the fitness industry and the all-or-nothing mindset through training with intention and intensity. To find out more about her or get in touch, click here.

You can also find her on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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