Finally the gym doors are open from 25th July in the UK! I’m sure this will bring a huge feeling of relief & satisfaction for those who have missed their gym routine, and those who want to start join & getting the benefits of exercise after lockdown.
It’s really easy to make mistakes especially when you’re desperate to make up for lost time, which is common post surgery or injury. However, lockdown is a completely different animal so a return to the gym or a start should be considered slightly differently. For example consider the types of training you haven’t been able to do, such as resistance training, balance or plyometrics. Or have you done more exercise during lockdown and are keen to push yourself more in the gym?
Here are 5 tips for a safe & successful return to the gym:
1. Allocate time for a thorough warmup
Warming up is often neglected as we don’t have time or we don’t know what to do. As mentioned, the lockdown lifestyle is a different animal, we’ve been more sedentary, have been sat down for longer periods of time or not done the same movements in the gym or our favourite sports. Spending time to warmup thoroughly will allow our tendons, muscles, joints & ligaments to prepare for the workout.
2. Reduce the resistance of your weights to 50% of your pre-lockdown resistance, and have a more gradual progression of intensity through each week of consistent training. Consider what you’ve been able & unable to do during lockdown. Have you been unable to Deadlift or Front Squat? Have you been unable to do any overhead lifts for your shoulders? Have you been limited to doing similar workouts with limited equipment? The reduction in the resistance will allow you to focus on form rather than high load & poor form. Train the movements first, it is easy to forget them!
To progress from 50% of your pre-lockdown resistance, you can either increase by 10-15% per week if you’ve been active. Or if you’ve been inactive, have a more gradual approach with 10% increase. If you’ve become more active over lockdown & want to join the gym for the 1st time, consider a gym induction and a more gradual progression with resistance & intensity. The indoor gym equipment will be different to home improvisations.
3. If you want to train to your best ability, you must rest to your best! Giving enough time for physiological adaptations from the increased resistance training in between workouts is very important. You want to be able to get the most from your workout, rather than burn yourself out. For the 1st few weeks try to stick to 3 gym sessions a week.
This also links well with…
4. Sleeping well to train well. Despite all the fancy gadgets & gizmos, sleep is the best way to recover for a human being. I find sleep is very neglected & almost taken for granted, especially when it comes to restoring your energy stores. 7-9hrs is the magic number, but there is a reason why! Click on my blog post to find out more.
5. Don’t jump into plyometrics too early. Plyometric exercises include jumping (see what I did there), hopping or skipping, and provide a high amount of load on tendons & bones. If the tendons & bones don’t have the load capacity or strength to deal with these loads, you could experience symptoms or an injury that causes you to be out of action.
I would approach plyometrics with caution, especially if you’ve been inactive or are a newbie in the gym. Try to give 2-3 days rest at least between each session.
An additional tip I want to give is to get advice from the right people, and don’t just ignore niggles. Don’t let hindsight be a wonderful thing, and allow an injury or poor advice stunt your progress in the gym. Always seek professional advice and help to get you in the right direction sooner than later.
I hope these tips have been useful, and provide some guidance. If you’re struggling with an injury or niggle and need an assessment, contact Hoss for more information and availability.