8 tips to help you on your way.
With UK gyms being given the possible green light to open up in July, hundreds of thousands of gym goers like yourselves will be delighted. I am sure motivation levels will be sky high and you will be chomping at the bit to return. Many of you have more than likely adapted your training in some way during the COVID-19 lockdown. Some of you may have done nothing, feeling this was a great time for a well-deserved break from our normal chaotic lives. Either way, I want to ask you, ‘Are you really ready for gym to re-open?’.
Ok, so enthusiasm is through the roof, which is great, and I am hearing a lot of people say “I can’t wait to get back to CrossFit”, “I’m looking forward to my Les Mills ‘Body Pump’ - I’m going to try to book that and book ‘Body Combat’” and finally “I’m going to hit the gym big time”. Having worked in sport and fitness for 20 years, this fills me with joy, knowing individuals are truly looking forward to fitness and training but the physio in me is also screaming: ‘Nooooooo’. I just know the levels of muscle and tendon injuries is going to rocket because gym goers will be ‘Doing too much, too soon; after too little, for too long’.
Gyms are about challenging the body by loading it in one way or another. But ask yourself, how much have you challenged your muscles over the past 12 weeks??? The body loves a challenge and adapts to the forces applied to it accordingly, its super clever. But it also has the ability to reverse the process – USE IT OR LOSE IT!! Professional athletes returning to sport have had a 226% increase in injury rates, this shows if you stop challenging the body it will decondition. So, what can you do?
- Start now, plan and be progressive - perfect preparation prevents piss poor performance.
- Plan training days. Consider day 1 leg exercises, day 2 shoulder exercises, day 3 back exercises, day 4 chest exercises. Alternatively, upper body one day, lower body another and CV another. There are so many ways to ensure you are giving your body adequate rest to repair whilst still training.
- Start performing eccentric exercises – they are fantastic for injury prevention and strength gains.
- Using body weight or exercise resistance bands at home are a great and cheap way to re-introduce resistance training back into your life.
- Be progressive – you are better to start light and have no reaction than put yourself out injured for months.
- Be prepared for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is normal training soreness that can last 48-72 hours post exercise. THIS IS NOT PAIN.
- Rather than a ‘rest day’ and feeling guilty have a recovery day, a training day doing some light CV and mobility work – you can thank me for this one later!!
- Finally – LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR. It does not matter what you used to able to do, this is your new beginning – quite refreshing really.
In what are still very strange times, I think there is no better time to reflect and aim for improvement. It starts now. Improvement begins with I and contains me, no one else can do it for you. See it as an opportunity, a fresh start; set achievable targets, hit them, raise the bar again, don’t rush it and ENJOY TRAINING AGAIN. Simple really.
Written by Liam Chapman.
Back Stronger Physiotherapy, Master Personal Trainer & Sports Injury Specialist.
Serving Harrogate and Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.