With the gyms now about to open on 3rd May, here are some basic tips to make sure you don’t injure yourself on the first few weeks back. What a relief: no more home workouts, no more bodyweight exercises, no more burpees and jumping jacks for cardio. You are bound to be excited to lift some weights or attend a group exercise class, but before you do, read this article.
The hard truths…yes you have probably gained weight, lost strength and muscle mass. That is expected given the duration in which the fitness facilities have been closed. You probably will be out of breath quicker than usual and you will struggle on lifting heavy weights. Try not to get too frustrated about all this, remember this is temporary. Our bodies can adapt very quickly to the stress we put upon it, now is the time to build it back up.
You may have guessed it already from reading the title above, but the key to building your strength or fitness is to do it gradually. If you don’t, you may find yourself over exerting, putting your muscles and joints under extra pressure which they haven’t been used to recently which can result in pulling a muscle and causing an injury. You also need to condition your body and make it familiar with the movements again which can help the neurological pathway, muscle activation and muscle engagement.
Imagine the gyms or exercises classes opening, you get to see your mates, you think you can lift the same weight or do the same intensity as you did before lockdown then bam, you get injured. You then have to spend 4 weeks at home resting the injury. How will that make you feel? Knowing that your mates are able to exercise but you can’t?
Here are some dos
- Start back gradually, exercise x2 per week instead of x4
- Lift lighter weights than before to ease back into it
- Complete one exercise class instead of your usual x3
- Focus on a warm up, stretching and a cool down in each session
- Give your body enough sleep and rest
- Exercise for shorter durations than usual
- Refuel your body after exercise
Here are some don’ts
- Exercise your regular x4 times a week
- Lift heavy weights to see if you have lost much strength
- Attend your usual x3 exercise classes a day
- Exercise for longer durations to make up on the gyms being closed
- Go straight into exercise without warm up and stretching or cool down at the end
- Challenge your mates to see who can lift the heaviest in your first week back
I’m sure that you will be tempted by some of the don’ts above, but try to look at the bigger picture. You wouldn’t run before you can walk, the same applies here. Have a structure, a plan and try not to over exert yourself in the first few weeks back. For tailored programming and online coaching, you can contact me to help you on your fitness journey.
‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – Small gradual steps, done consistently will show sustainable results.
Best wishes! Nicky Fitnes