We are expecting gyms to re-open soon after spending most of the last year closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions. With this, many of us will be returning ‘home’ having barely moved or lifted weights during quarantine. A greater emphasis on light cardio and bodyweight exercises mean our fitness will have changed, if not deteriorated.
Our heart pumps less blood around the body after just 2 days of inactivity. Studies have demonstrated that VO2 max (a measure of aerobic fitness) can reduce by 4-14% in less than 4 weeks. Muscles shrink after 4 weeks of not training and we can lose 7-12% of our muscle strength after 8-12 weeks off.
One of the easiest ways to injure yourself is to go too hard or too fast. Thinking that we will be able to lift the weights we could before or working yourself to maximum fatigue like you did before the first lockdown will put you at an increased risk.
Therefore, it is important that you return to working out gradually to ensure you do not end up injured and on the treatment table with us. Check out some of our top tips if you will be returning to the gym on the 12th of April.
Tips for your return to the gym:
- You still want to push your body so that you are gradually challenged but not overstressed. Listen to your body for warning signs such as pain, tightness or discomfort and remember that your post-exercise soreness will return to the level it was as a newbie and needs to be managed.
- Increasing your heart rate promotes blood flow to the muscles with low to moderate intensity cardio or dynamic activity that take your joints through a full range of motion. Foam rolling or myofascial release techniques can help this too, particularly if you are still sore from your previous exercise session.
- Start with lower weight and higher reps. Increase your exercise tolerance before you progress to explosive power and strength moves. You can gradually increase the weight by between 2-10% only when you feel you can 1-2 more reps than your desired rep range.
- Ensure adequate time to recover. You may need to reduce the frequency of your training, to begin with in order to give adequate time for recovery. Sleeping well and eating will help this. On your days off more self-treatment and stretching should be incorporated to aid your recovery.
- Be patient, as studies have shown that even after 30-32 weeks of no training, it can take just 6 weeks to obtain the previous strength levels though this is age-dependent and took longer with age.