Returning to the Gym? Move Slowly and Be Patient!
Prior to the pandemic, my strength training plan 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, my strength training plan was to use bodyweight work might work to continue my strength work.
Three Keys for Return to the Gym Strength Training Plan
Here are the keys for a successful strength training plan to return to the gym:
1. Decide for yourself how active you’ve been since not going to the gym. 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. Remember, if you’re so sore the next day, you reach for ibuprofen, you went too deep. Your body will take longer to recover.
So, of course, I had to really restrain my strength training plan 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!
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.
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.
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 strength training plan a little more quickly.
Try three days a week, still with light to moderate weights and intensity.
There’s No Rush to Return to the Gym
There’s no rush to get back to your previous strength training plan.
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?
Got questions? We have answers! Contact us here.