The pandemic has radically changed everyone’s lives and since gyms shut down, we have sought different ways of trying to get our routine fix of fitness elsewhere. While many of us have been doing what we can to stay fit and strong during lockdown, such as living room workouts, body weight exercises and running, for some people, there’s no real substitute for the gym.
As restrictions start to ease and gyms re-open, many of us can’t wait to get back into the swing of things with regular classes and weight sessions, while having access to top spec equipment. Yet it’s really important to ensure your body is prepared and ready for the demands of the gym. Too much initial vigour and enthusiasm can mean starting off too hard, too quickly, which could lead to serious, long-lasting injuries.
Here are some simple tips for a safe and gentle return to the gym:
Easy does it
We can’t blame any gym goer who wants to get back into pumping iron with great gusto after a long time off, but this is only going to lead to potential trouble; you could end up doing more harm than good with an ‘all guns blazing’ approach and is the most sure-fire way to injury. For weight training, limit yourself to three days a week for the first two weeks so your tissues can adapt to the higher-than-normal load you’re putting on them.
Warm-up is key
Neglecting your warm-up so you can skip to the main activity you’ve missed for so long is a no-no.
A warm-up is essential for any exercise, and this has never been more vital to your body after a long period away. Lack of exercise means loss of muscle mass, which leaves you more susceptible to leg and back injuries. Try small but effective body weight exercises before you hit the free weights; moves such as lunges, plank rotations and hip raises will get that synovial fluid flowing in the joints and lubricate the engine before you fully go for it.
Keep it regular
If you’ve decided to get back into a fitness class or weight training after a long period of inactivity, try committing and sticking to a regular workout schedule.
The best way to ensure this is to pick a workout time that suits you. This is not only effective for building a habit, but will also aid performance and reduce the chance of injuries.
To help you kick-start a regular routine, why not ask your gym about CicloX?
CicloZone’s newly-launched studio-based classes allow gyms and cycling studios to offer their members all the benefits of CicloZone in a real-life group setting. Studio classes are available 24:7 via CicloTV to CicloX gym members, while Ciclo-approved studio instructors will also be able to deliver their own live, in-person classes in due course.
What’s more, whether you ride on your own CicloZone membership or in a CicloX studio, your data will be synchronised in your app, allowing you to track your progress and continue your personalised cycling journey wherever you are.
Fuel your workout
Being properly fuelled before, during and after your training session is imperative, especially after a period of inactivity. A dose of simple carbohydrates such as a cereal bar or fruit just before starting your weight session, alongside plenty of water, will keep your energy stores and hydration levels topped up. Try added electrolytes to your water to sip throughout the workout which will replenish anything you lose through sweating, followed by a high-protein supplement right after.
Mix it up
Variety is the spice of life, so they say, and this philosophy can also be applied in the gym. Keeping workouts varied means less repetitive load, one of the easiest ways to injure yourself and more of a danger if you’ve not worked out properly for a while. A balance of cardio and weight training will mix up workouts and keep things varied. This also minimises stress so your body responds better. For example, if you used to do 45 minutes of indoor cycling every day pre-lockdown, try warming up with some stretches that are good for mobility, or focus on exercises that help strengthen your core.
A little R&R
Last but not least, rest and recovery is a crucial part of any fitness regime, whether you’re a performance athlete or are just emerging from lockdown hibernation.
It’s important that everyone gives their bodies plenty of opportunity for regular rest and recovery. Burnout can happen whatever training level you’re at, especially after a long period of inactivity. Sleep as we all know is the best medicine, so try aiming for 7-8 hours’ sleep every night to aid recovery and don’t forget your rest days – they’re when your body generates the gains from all your hard efforts.