Several of you wanted to know more about how I conditioned to get back into aerial shape after I was out on medical leave for 3 months as well as how long it took me to get back.
In my situation – everyone is different and it really depends on the injury or reason for being away – I got back to my peak strength in about 8 weeks. It felt like forever.
In all, I had gained about 7 pounds and lost all of my pull-ups before I started training again. Serious depression.
Generally, here’s what I did:
Weeks 1 – 2 (early March):
- Got a new pull-up bar at home (my old one didn’t fit the doorframes) and did as many negative pull-ups as I could – every single day. Here’s a good tutorial – but do them with an overhand grip:
- I also started doing yoga postures and stretching at home about 3x/week.
- About mid-week, Ryan spotted me on proper pull-ups – trying to go for 5 assisted.
- Get up on your apparatus, but TAKE IT EASY. I pushed myself far too hard the first two weeks, resulting in two torn muscles – one in my shoulder and one in my hamstring. Not fun. Just have a play on it the first few times and don’t set ANY expectations for yourself. Treat it like it’s the first time you’ve ever been on the apparatus (yeah, right, you must be thinking. Easier said than done.)
- Do some climbs on the rope or silk. Every aerialist should be able to do a basic climb. If you had strong climbs before, this should be pretty easy to master again.
- These first two weeks sucked because it felt like I wasn’t making any progress. Still couldn’t do a single pull up by mid March.
- I could not invert on the rope during this time either.
- Started training harder on the rope in preparation for the Red Shoes performance – about 3/week for an hour – 1.5 hours each time. I would do a lot of climbing, hip locks, universal straddles to invert. I also had a lot of pressure to start choreographing my routine so I had to gamble on what I would be capable of the first weekend in May. So I started doing basic sequences that I felt comfortable before the medical leave. They were not pretty, but it’s a great way to build your confidence.
- Ryan continued to spot me each day on pull-ups – I would do 5 assisted. This is the week I was able to do a single, unassisted pull-up. Hooray.
- I could do one very sad inversion this week.
- This was an exciting week. I jumped to being able to do 2.5 pull ups by the end of the week.
- I could do a strong inversion (diamond legs not straight legs)
- I continued to struggle through chroreographing my routine with tons of trial and error.
- My stamina was terrible. I was huffing and puffing the whole way through.
Weeks 5 – 7:
- This was a critical phase in building strength, flexibility and confidence.
- I trained 4 – 5/week, depending on our rehearsal schedules.
- I gained about 1 new pull-up/week.
- I could invert easily.
- My routine was coming together and I finally finalized the choreography and just spent the last two weeks perfecting.
- My stamina slowly improved, but I continued to huff and puff by the end. I couldn’t make it through the whole routine weeks 5 and 6.
Week 8 (first week of May):
- Tech and dress rehearsal week – we really only had Tuesday and Wednesday to do our runs for the performances that started on Friday. Fortunately, I felt pretty good about the routine and had loads of confidence in my strength
- I matched my pull-up personal best – 5!
- I had lost the 7 pounds I previously gained.
- I can do straight arm/straight leg inversions – better than I did before the break.
So there you go. It’s mainly about the pull-ups and just getting back up there. There’s no magic bullet apart from pacing yourself, consistency and perseverance.