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Returning to training after time off

For many the Covid-19 situation has given us a forced break from the gym, and that means returning to train will almost feel like starting all over again.


Whilst some of us will look to hire the services of a personal trainer, the expense may be too much for some, particularly with the financial strain lockdown has had on people.


The benefits of a trainer are there for beginners learning the basics, or for those who are training for a specific goal. For the majority, the use of a trainer is a luxury.


This is where online video resources, such as on YouTube, can be a way to source information without the cost of hiring a trainer.


With that being said, here is a list of my tips for returning back to train safely and effectively after our enforced break.


1 – Start back with bodyweight movements –

For the first week, stay away from equipment and learn to master the foundational movement patterns, such as the squat, hip hinge (deadlift pattern), lunge,  horizontal push (push up), horizontal pull (rowing pattern), vertical push (shoulder press pattern) and the vertical pull (it is a great time to begin to develop the ability to passively hang from a bar).

These movements are transferable across much of what is performed during a gym session and getting a solid grasp of them before adding in the intensity will help with reducing that initial soreness. At the very most use some light bands for resistance and practice these movement patterns daily.


2 – When it comes to using resistance again, exercise restraint –

Once the gyms open there will be plenty of opportunities to train hard.

For those coming back from not lifting during this Covid-19 period, there will have been some loss of conditioning and strength. What was once a baseline level may now feel out of reach.

The first week of resistance training should be performed with approximately 40-50% of previous numbers used prior to the lockdown.

This can be increased incrementally over the following weeks, provided exercise technique is maintained.


3 – Go back to basics and keep movements under control –

Following on from number 1, keep the foundational movements as the base for your training. It is easy to get caught up with fancy machines and exercise variations but mastering control of yourself on the basic movements will have a huge benefit going forward. Use the light weight practice to work on tempo, moving the load under full control and through your full range of motion. The neuromuscular engagement will help create a stronger mind/muscle connection and make learning new skills a lot easier.


4 – Use the motivation of returning to train to set some short and long term goals –

Wherever the lockdown period has left you physically, this is where you are at, your starting point. Even if you’re not happy with how you look, be kind to yourself, understanding of the situation and channel it into some short and longer term goals. Make them attainable and keep ticking them off as you succeed. Be as honest with yourself as you can and reward yourself for making the small wins.


5 – Surround yourself with positive but honest people – 

Choose your gym partners from those who you enjoy being around but will also push you to be the best version of yourself. Constructive feedback can sometimes be confronting but at the same time it can be something which allows that push outside of your comfort zone to be better than you were yesterday.


6 – Make the most of each session –

Put your phone away, reduce the small talk and get to work on what your goals are. One lesson of Covid-19 is that this can all be taken away very quickly. Make the most of each session and leave the phone scrolling and chatter for after your session. You can’t get that workout back after it’s done.


7 – Most of all, have fun –

There are many reasons to go and exercise, one which is almost universal is that it is enjoyable and fulfilling. Remember your reasons why when you step into the gym and make that time one of the highlights of the day.


If you have any questions about how to start come in and have a chat to us. We are always happy to talk exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

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