Three Keys to Return to Strength Training in the Gym

Move Slowly in Return to the Gym

Prior to the pandemic, my goal in the gym was to lift heavy things to build overall strength that I could tap for on-the-bike endurance. 

I was deadlifting with a hex bar, using dumbbells for shoulder, back, and chest work, and doing a lot of kettlebell work, especially swings. 

And I was seeing results: I was able to power up hills more easily, and I had more endurance. 

When our gym closed, I thought doing bodyweight work might work to continue my strength work. 

While bodyweight exercises are good for maintaining, most of us have missed lifting heavy stuff. 

As you return to the gym for strength training, go easy with intensity, weight, and frequency until your body is used to the training stress.
Take your time in your return to the gym. Follow the three keys to keep yourself safe and feeling good!

Restrain Yourself!

So, of course, I had to really restrain myself when I was able to get back to the gym. 

I knew that if I tried to go back to pre-pandemic weights, I would be unable to walk the next day! 

And since my broken and surgically repaired arm is still healing, I’m doing squats with a safety bar, which is slightly different than a regular barbell bar. 

Depending on your gym, there will be different restrictions on returning. Some gyms may require reservations, some may require masks, and others are open for regular business. 

Regardless of status, please make sure you are wiping down your equipment before you use it, and after you’re done, just to keep you and others safe during the pandemic. 

Focus on your resilience in your return to the gym. You can't speed up your body's adaptation to training stress.
Focus on your resilience in your return to the gym. You can’t speed up your body’s adaptation to training stress. Be good to and patient with yourself.

Did You Workout During Quarantine?

How often and how intense you should work out in your return depends on how active you were during the pandemic. Here’s a good piece from Bicycling Magazine about cycling-specific strength training.

The key is to start with lighter than usual weight and work out with less than usual intensity. 

Start with a weight that’s fairly light. If you get to an easy 13-15 reps without difficulty, increase the weight

If you gave up and did little, your return needs to be slow and gradual. Start with two easy days of strength training with light weights. 

If you were working out regularly, with strength training and regular endurance work, you’ll be able to jump into your workouts a little more. 

Try three days a week, still with light to moderate weights and intensity. 

Three Keys for Return to the Gym

Here are the keys to returning to the gym:

1. Decide for yourself how active you were while the gyms were closed. Whether you kept up your strength training, or just stopped will determine the frequency and intensity of your return workouts. 

2. Start with fairly easy weights. Build slowly. For example, if you were doing 150 lb squats, start with the barbell, then keep adding light weight as you get to around 15 reps. 

3. For the first three weeks, keep the intensity mild to moderate. Keep more in the tank than you would normally to avoid muscle soreness the next day. 

You can't speed up your body's adaptation to training stress in your return to the gym.
Whether you continue to stay at home or return to the gym, focus on pacing yourself, connecting with friends, and acknowledge that if you’re putting in the time, you’re doing the best you can.

There’s No Rush to Return to the Gym

There’s no rush to get back to your previous lifts. 

You can’t speed up your body’s adaptation to training stress.

You can, though, stress your body too much, resulting in a lower immunity and really sore muscles.

Build up your intensity, frequency, and weight slowly and steadily .

Want to get some ideas about how to start? Need to know more about what exercises to do? 

6plusONE will help you with a custom program to provide motivation and accountability. 

Got questions? We have answers! Contact us here. 

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *