How to have a successful return back to the gym - Post Lockdown
At Apex Lifestyle Health & Fitness we are dedicated to getting you back to the gym working out safely and correctly.
For all of us, the pandemic has changed the game in how we exercise. Many of us may have not lifted a weight since the beginning of when gyms were first closed?
With the excitement of many gyms reopening all over the country, it's important to know that there might be some temptation to go back to the gym:
Temptation 1: Going back to your old program
Temptation 2: Using the same loads the last time you were in the gym pre lockdown.
With these two concepts in mind, both strategies could result in injury!
Were you able to stick to some kind of working out at home while the gyms were closed? New data from companies like Fitbit and other tracking app companies have shown around a 12% drop in levels of activity during quarantine periods.
The main message we want to give to you is to create a base foundation going back into a weight training environment.
We wanted to share with
you 7 key ideas to really consider and to implement going back to the gym.
If you are in that 12% of people that had a drop in activity levels during covid then your joints and tendons have been somewhat compromised due to lack of activity. Think about the amount of sitting we have done over these lockdowns? Going back to the gym and putting a bar on your back with your usual loads may not be the best idea to do right out of the gate?
Here are our top 7 basic rules, guidelines to lower your risk of injury and frustration going back to the gym.
1. Embrace mobility and stabilization
We wanted to put this one at the head of the list. Our reason for this is none of us can build a house on a shaky foundation. First, we want a heavier focus on going back to the gym using stabilization. If we introduce movements like the plank, downward dog, dead bugs, side plank (as examples) in the beginning and throughout our training program we are going to benefit from:
- Improved neuromuscular efficiency (balance, coordination)
- Improve our posture
- Improve muscular endurance
We would highly recommend doing your stabilization work before your strength training.
What about mobility?
Many people will ask me, what is my definition of mobility? My answer has always been, the ability to move freely without stress and stiffness. Mobility is linked to joint health.
Try our Mobility Drill Series.
2. Reducing weights by 50%
Dropping your weight by 50% is a smart idea. By cutting your weights from the loads you were lifting pre-lockdown, your body will thank you. Your main focus needs to be on your form and execution. We would strongly suggest going back to your normal loads at the week 6 mark in your program.
3. Don’t fail too soon
Training to failure right away after a long lockdown break will bring on an injury faster than a speeding bullet. For your first 6 weeks back in the gym, be around the 4 rep shy of the failure mark. Meaning, keep your intensity levels at a 6 out of 10. Feel free to step up your intensity at the week 6 mark in your training program phase.
4. Avoid plyometrics
Any form of skipping or jumping has an extremely high impact on your joints and tendons. Heed with caution and if you truly have to do them in your program do them towards the end of your workout. Give 72 hours of recovery before doing them again.
5. One day on, one day off
The temptation is always to jump right back into training consecutive days. This could completely fry your central nervous system. Especially after a long break away from the gym (lockdowns). Stick to a max of 3 sessions per week for the first 4 weeks of training. An example of this would be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Allowing a day off in between sessions is an intelligent idea to allow your body to heal and recover.
6. Increase water and clean up nutrition
Chances are you may have not kept yourself as hydrated as you would have liked during the lockdown periods. Putting a heavy focus on water consumption going back to the gym will aid you in lubricating your joints and may even help with muscle stiffness?
From a nutrition perspective, giving your body the nutrients it needs to recover from going back to the gym is vital. Many of us may have experienced an increase in our body weight going up during the lockdown periods. Not eating the right foods and now adding resistance training on top is now causing further stress on the body. Cleaning up our nutrition with smarter, healthier macro and micronutrients is a great way to keep inflammation down.
7. Open up and extended
Your workout plan should have an element of opening and lengthening the body. Weight training after a long breakaway will shorten the muscles which become tight. Open up the muscles by stretching them out at the end of your workout session. Personally, we love ending our training sessions in a child's pose (yoga pose) for 3 minutes. While doing this, we open up our lungs and breathe deep. This is called diaphragmatic breathing. Allowing your stomach to rise and fall for 3 minutes. Don't forget, close your eyes, breathe and give thanks that the gym is back open.
The only thing now that is left to say is, be patient with your body as it adjusts to the new stimulus of weight training.
It might be a good idea to introduce some Epsom Salt baths to help you with muscle soreness (DOMS - Delayed onset muscle)?
Above all, be compassionate to the body. It has been through hell and back over the lockdown periods. Physically and mentally.