Now that gyms reopened earlier this week, many are itching to get back to lifting weights and using machines at their local gym. Although it may be tempting to pick up where you left off, it’s best to ease back into your routine slowly to avoid injury. No matter if you are into heavy weightlifting, or endurance-focused cardio training, some time away from the gym during lockdown will change your body physiology and its capacity for work.
What do you need to know?
Doing too much too soon may lead to injury, so it is important to modify your workout routine accordingly to re-introduce your body to your gym routine. If you are strength training, think about bringing down the weight to half of what you were previously lifting as a starting point, then progress it from there by listening to your body. Give yourself a couple days between your first few strength workouts back, to evaluate how your body responds after the workout, rather than impulsively continuing to increase the resistance level within one session (even if you think you feel fine!). You can also modify your number of reps and sets to bring down the volume of your first few workouts back.
Keep in mind that your starting point once back at the gym will be different for everyone. Were you continuing to exercise with home workouts during the lockdown, or did you take a break from everything and wait for gyms to reopen? Did you still continue to workout 4-5 times per week at home, or did you decrease the frequency to 2-3 times since home workouts can be distracting and difficult to initiate? All these factors need to be considered to determine if your return-to-gym plan is appropriate for you.
What else can you do to avoid injury?
- Plan time for a proper warm up: Rather than doing a couple static stretches, try to warm up the muscles you will be working by working on mobility of the targeted areas, and simulating some of the same movements without resistance.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure to bring water to the gym for your workout, and also drink more water throughout the day. Generalized fluid intake guidelines suggest 2L of water daily, but keep in mind this is different for everyone and may be more depending on your training intensity..
- Take rest days: Don’t try to make up for the lost gym days by putting too much time into training during your first few weeks back. Overtraining exists, and a lack of recovery/rest could predispose you to injury. Rather than total rest, think about dedicating your recovery days to active walking, mobility, foam rolling, and stretching.
Should you have any questions about your specific situation as you prepare to return to the gym, reach out to one of our therapists so they can help individualize your return to gym routine!