Whether you’ve started easing yourself back into the gym, or have thought about doing it, take our top tips into consideration! Take things slow, set small achievable goals and avoid putting pressure on yourself.
As we start to head towards a bit more normality, and our WFH loungewear is ditched for our usual work office attire, for some, the thought of going back to the gym can be quite anxiety-provoking. Throughout the past year, many living rooms have acted as temporary gym class studios, and our tin cans from the cupboards as our new dumbbells. Now that gyms have reopened and we’re finally getting back into the swing of things, we think it is important to reflect on what we’ve taken from being in a lockdown and how we should progress as we slip back into our old routines.
Lockdown has taught us to reflect and review our behaviours, and to stop doing the things we don’t actually enjoy doing. This involves us making our own decisions, and not letting others make those decisions for us. For some, that’s ditching the peer pressure, and understanding that it’s okay to have a night in on our own in our schedules!
It is important for us to recognise that we shouldn’t throw ourselves into the deep end when we push our bodies psychically, or we put ourselves at risk of injury or burnout. Burnout occurs when our stresses become overwhelming and they exhaust us mentally and physically. We must recognise that we shouldn’t pile the pressure on ourselves to prevent us from burning out, and no longer enjoying the process of working out and achieving our goals.
Here are our top tips to get the ball rolling, and to help you ease yourself back into an exercise regime whilst avoiding burnout!
- Set goals
- Coming in at number 1 we have the principal of setting goals! We believe that setting goals gives us something to work towards and helps us to determine what we do in the gym by narrowing our focus and avoid wasting time wondering what to do. By reaching our goals, we feel a sense of fulfilment and achievement, which further motivates us to push ourselves to set more goals!
- Make a plan
- By making a plan, we believe that you avoid over, or under, training your body whilst still having the time to do the things you love! A plan will help you stay on track to achieving your goals through providing structure to your workout! Most importantly, by sticking to your plan, you’re likely to avoid burnout, and still have the time and energy to do other activities!
- Stretch and Warm Up
- A key aspect of easing ourselves back into the gym and avoiding injury is the importance of warming up properly and stretching our body out. By warming up, the blood flow to our muscles is increased, which limits the possibility of pulling a muscle. After warming up, and stretching our muscles further, our muscles are likely to increase in range, and thus lower the risk of injury.
- Stretching is also GREAT for stress relief! When we’re stressed, as a response our muscles tend to tighten up, such as your shoulders and neck. Therefore, not only does stretching increase the flexibility of our muscles, but also helps to calm our mind and give us a mental break!
- Starting slow in the gym
- It is important to remember that our initial focus when going back to the gym should not be on intense/high loaded workouts. Instead, we should be looking at dropping our weights by 50% of what we were doing pre lockdown and aim to increase them each week by a certain percentage. Through building up our weights gradually, we avoid overload injuries and ensure a safe and effective return!
- Listen to your body
- Whilst on our journey back to normality, we must listen to our bodies! Listening to our body is the best way to understand how we should progress back to normal. Our bodies let us know when somethings wrong, so it’s important to respect our bodies and take a rest day if we feel we need it! Recovery is such a key aspect of any training or exercise program, by giving our bodies time to heal themselves, our risk of potential injury is reduced!
- Cool down
- Through cooling down properly after a workout, it is a perfect opportunity for you to reflect on your workout and give yourself credit for the hard work you have done in your workout! This can boost your motivation, but also encourage a feeling of relaxation.
- Right recovery
- Coming in last, but certainly NOT least, recovery! Recovery is a super important part of our training and exercise programs. It allows us to improve our performance, and gives our bodies time to heal. Recovery includes getting enough sleep, so our body has time to repair through fundamental processes. We must also hydrate and fuel our bodies with the right nutrition to optimise our recovery. However, who doesn’t love treating themselves to a good takeaway?!
In addition, perhaps we should consider having a small amount of solitude in our busy schedule, especially if you have a busy schedule and lifestyle. In fact, the busier you are, the benefits from having a little bit of me time are likely to be heightened. It can be found that alone time can increase empathy towards others, and you are likely to develop compassion towards others who may not be in your ‘inner circle’. Some people also find that solitude increases productivity and creativity, by giving your brain a chance to explore different avenues without the distraction of other people.