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How to Properly Structure a Virtual Fitness Session for a Brief Duration

Let’s be sincere: Though virtual exercise classes offer a convenient option for working out without the complexities, time commitment, or social pressures of going to a gym, it’s quite easy to lose focus. Initially, you might have started a 20-minute video with the best intentions. However, you could end up responding to a message, managing your dog on your exercise mat, or stepping away briefly to sign for a package when the doorbell rings.

“Individuals might not feel as obligated to the instructor or other participants as they would in an in-person class, making it simpler to lose concentration,” notes fitness trainer Michael Hamlin, a strength and conditioning expert, and the founder of EverFlex Fitness. “The flexibility of working out at home can induce you to multitask or check your smartphone.”

So, is it acceptable to pause a virtual workout midway? What is the actual effect of taking quick, unplanned breaks?

The Impact of Breaks on your Progress

As per Hamlin, taking occasional short breaks during virtual workouts is unlikely to drastically affect your overall achievements. However, frequent or extended breaks may hinder your progress.

“Taking numerous breaks or letting diversions take over can lead to difficulty in maintaining intensity or completing the entire workout,” Hamlin explains. “The major issue with replying to a quick text is the temptation to continue responding to every notification that appears on your phone.”

Another drawback of pausing for a phone call during a virtual class is the shift in your focus. “If you receive unsettling news in a message, how likely are you to concentrate on maintaining proper form during your next exercise?” Hamlin points out.

Is there a specific type of workout where you must—or must not—take a break?

An effective cardio workout involves elevating your heart rate to a particular level—something that breaks could impact negatively. “If you are engaging in a text conversation, your effort level is likely to decrease, hindering your cardio objectives,” mentions Hamlin.

Conversely, breaks in strength training sessions are usually less problematic and sometimes intentional. “In strength training, you may require brief breaks based on your routine to recuperate for your next set,” Hamlin shares. “Many weightlifters tend to check their phones between sets, aware of the minute or two breaks they have scheduled.”

Nevertheless, ensure these breaks do not become excessively lengthy. (We are all aware of how easy it can be to get absorbed in our phones.)

“We all necessitate intervals of rest during our workouts, but smartphones lure you in and divert your attention. The danger lies in lengthening your rest period, thereby failing to provide the optimal stimulus for physical progress (cardiovascular or muscular),” Hamlin warns.

Instead of browsing social media or replying to texts, Hamlin suggests using your phone to log details on your repetitions and the weight lifted to reference later.

Also, remember that breaks can strategically fit into any workout if used mindfully. Particularly while rebuilding your fitness or attempting a new exercise style, a pause can help you complete the workout at your own pace.

“Brief breaks can be beneficial for managing fatigue and sustaining motivation during lengthier workouts. Sometimes, the greatest victory is finishing the workout even if you fall short of your goals that day,” mentions Hamlin. “Utilizing longer rest periods when you underperform is an excellent approach to boost the likelihood of completing your workouts.”

Tips to Minimize Distractions during Virtual Fitness Sessions

Even at home, grant yourself dedicated workout time. Configure your phone to alert you only for crucial notifications, and wear headphones to signal to your household not to disturb you.

Hamlin advises using your required breaks during the workout to document your progress, focus on the upcoming steps, hydrate, and concentrate on the exercises ahead.

Nonetheless, do not lose sight of your initial motivation for starting a virtual workout. “A smartphone is a remarkable tool for virtual workouts and offers us numerous benefits,” he acknowledges, “however, we must remember that phones can detract us from the core reasons behind our workout intentions.”

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