Well… we’re back! Do you remember the last time you went on an extended vacation, came back home, jumped into the gym and thought you could up where you left off? You might remember feeling like you were not going to make it through the session and were so sore for days on end. Remember that was just after a vacation consisting of a long rest, relaxation, and food freedom. Just think what you may encounter once you return to your gym after two to three months of quarantine. Most of you have been able to keep up your training intensity during this time, that’s great! But I would argue that most of us, even with the best intentions, might not have been exercising at the same intensity in which we left our favorite facility. As we make our way back into your gym, here are FOUR helpful tips that will aid in keeping you pain and injury free while heading back into exercise after quarantine!
As we start taking steps back into the gym, we should first consider putting strength training in first place. Whether you’ve been working out consistently or not over these past few months, the lack of equipment and home workouts have caused most of us to have a slight dip in our general strength training. Particularly in the posterior chain (back, glutes, hamstrings) Strength training is the safest and most efficient kind of training a person can do. The amount of benefits one can get from lifting weights is extremely worth it. When it comes to your quality of life, being stronger means living longer and healthier.
3. Don’t Neglect Prehab
We’ve spent a good amount of our time at home and under stress these last few months. This has caused us to become more sedentary in behavior which increases our risk of tight and overactive muscles throughout our body. This makes it crucial that you not forget to take the time to properly warm up and prepare yourself for the work at hand! This message isn’t new, and should always be practiced, but even more so now that you may have had a lengthy layoff. Consider this as part of your workout and you are more likely to complete it every time; don’t treat it as an option that is nice to do if you have the time. Make time! Foam rolling and soft tissue techniques, dynamic warm-up drills, and stability work should all be completed before jumping into a training session. Five to seven minutes can save you months in rehabbing an injury that could have been avoided!
3. Embrace The DOMS
Let’s face it, we’re all going to be sore the first few weeks back into the gym. The abundance of weights, equipment and exercise options the gym provides will force us to perform movements with loads we haven’t experienced in a decent amount of time. One way to help decrease the amount of soreness is by starting slow and adding intensity progressively throughout the first 8–10 sessions back. While strength training should be our focus in the beginning, we don’t want to lift too heavy or too fast as this can lead to physical injuries as well as emotional setbacks. Build some confidence every session, and you will be back to your prime self in no time, safely!
4. Reset Your Mind
I believe this is the most important step in your journey back into the gym. It’s important to focus on being okay with not being at your previous fitness level. We’re all in this journey together and have all been missing our gym fix (well most of us). There is no room for negative self-talk because your using lighter weights on your deadlifts right now, or running a mile is now incredibly challenging when it was once a warm-up. We must think of short-term adjustments at the beginning as you get your legs back underneath you. Find the little victories and be proud of them as you continue to ramp back up to previous intensities!