The 2x rule

Past a certain age, it takes twice as much time to regain your conditioning versus the length of time off. For example, if you’re going to take a month off for a summer vacation, you’ll have to grind away at the gym for two months to return to your pre-trip form.

A similar rule applies to injuries. When you hurt yourself at the gym, you can either stop immediately for as long as the recovery takes, or you can keep going and make the situation geometrically worse.

Here’s how the math looks. If you feel pain in your shoulder, take a week off and you’ll be fine by the following Monday. Or, you can continue training through it for another week before accepting it’s best to stop. Now you’ll need two weeks off to allow your shoulder to fully heal.

See how this works? You can accumulate a lot of downtime quickly. If you ignore your shoulder pain for a month, by the time you decide to stop you’re looking at two months of guarding your shoulder. Going back to the original rule, after two months of de-training you’ll need four months to get back to where you were before your injury.

So here’s your choice: Rest for a week, or deal with a six month slog.

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