posted on April 29, 2020
With things changing in the news daily, it’s hard to tell when we will be reunited at our favorite hangout, Union Fitness. We can only hope that it will be sooner rather than later. With the time off, we have all had plenty of opportunity to sit and ponder our plans for when we can train again. At a time where our bodies are fresh and our motivation will be higher than ever, it will be easy to jump back into training and push things hard without any thought or hesitation. My advice to you, before you hit the ground running, pump the brakes.
If you’re reading this, there is a good chance that you have found some way to stay active during your downtime. If you are fortunate enough to have access to equipment, then that’s great. If you don’t but have been going for walks, bike rides, or doing bodyweight workouts, that’s great as well. Or, if you’ve decided to take this time to relax and focus on other aspects of your life, I applaud you as well. As a matter of fact, if you’ve been continuously pushing yourself for any significant amount of time, then you will have benefited from this time of rest, and your body thanks you. Regardless of how you have been spending your forced time off, there are some things to consider before jumping back into training once our favorite gym is able to open up it’s doors.
1. Respect where you are currently: If you have not been able to perform regular at-home workouts, then there is a very good chance that your strength, stamina, and overall conditioning will be slightly lower than it was when you were training regularly. Because of this, take your time during your first week back in the gym. Don’t overreach and be patient with your progress return.
2. Let yourself readjust: If you have in fact been able to train regularly but in different forms then you’re used to, then your overall conditioning could be different than it was before. For example, if you were used to using barbells and dumbbell, but are now using bodyweight circuit style routines, then your strength may be slightly lower, but your endurance and stamina could be higher. On the flip side, if you were used to performing cardio based workouts only but you have been focusing on resistance exercises, then your strength and muscle mass have potentially increased, but overall endurance has possibly decreased. Either way, understand that when you return to your regularly scheduled programming, there’s a chance that your body may be operating and feeling a little differently.
3. Control the accelerator: When you return, you will feel fresh, reenergized, and excited to get back into the swing of things. If you have not been able to train the way you were prior to this, then you will want to gradually build your way back up. I would not recommend jumping right back into where you left off. By doing this, you may be putting yourself as risk of injury, which could potentially set you back longer than you’ve waited to return to the gym. There’s also a good chance you will want to stay forever in fear of missing out on this opportunity again. You will feel great at the time, but your body and mind will hate you over the next few days, so take things slow.
4. Be patient: Don’t expect things to come back instantly, but know that it won’t take as long as it did the first time around. If you have already developed a base of strength and conditioning, then your body will adapt and return to it’s previous state relatively quickly. Unfortunately, you will be much more sore than normal, there’s just no way around that. Those first few workouts are going to be a challenge, but within a short amount a time, you will be back firing on all cylinders.
Now that we have taken a few things into consideration, here is my advice. Before you step foot back into the gym, make a plan. Begin by scheduling your first 3-4 weeks of training and stick to it the best that you can. Be sure to take all of the things that we have discussed into consideration. Next, set goals. With those goals, think small, not big. Next, give yourself some leeway on your workouts. For your first few training sessions, make the duration shorter than what you’re used to. If you are lifting, consider lowering your intensity for the first few sessions to let your body get reacclimatized. If you were previously performing barbell squats, bench press, and deadlifts before leaving the gym, don’t start back with the same weights you were using, and certainly don’t consider trying to find your current max. Likewise, if you were used to running multiple miles on the treadmill daily, don’t start back up directly into the same distance or intensity. Finally, be happy that you are able to be back exercising and doing something that you enjoy. When something that you love and rely on is taken from you, it puts into perspective how much it truly means. So, set some new goals, make a plan, enjoy the process, and remember why you started all of this in the first place. I hope to see all of you soon. Cheers.