This article is aimed at all people who in recent months have not practiced any type of physical exercise with loads, who have trained with little material at home and who, with the return to the gym, will resume their routines completely. How to start a gym after lockdown or covid?
- Instinctively, being able to use all the machines and discs that one wants, many people are induced to start over with what was done before.
- In many cases, this is not the best approach, and it is good to consider some measures to ensure an optimal resumption of training. And to minimize unnecessary stress and possible injuries.
Back to the gym: Movements and Exercises.
As we’ve said, regaining strength and fitness won’t be difficult, but how to do it is key.
It is essential to regain confidence with the different movement patterns, work angles and types of stress we are subjected to. It is not about the muscles should return, but especially the joints when we start the return to the gym.
Not so easy as before!
Having not performed movements for many weeks has undoubtedly affected control, technique and the ability to perform exercises with high intensity and safety.
If, for example, for months we have been training the glutes and legs at home with the Bulgarian squat with dumbbells. Be careful with doing very loaded squats with a bar from the first moment. The quads and glutes could be conditioned, but the back may have lost tolerance to load, knees lost tolerance to tension and mobility.
Doing many exercises that have not been done for a long time is more stressful on the body, causes more soreness (DOMS) and slows recovery. It is important in the first weeks back to the gym to condition the whole body and not just the muscles.
Back to the gym: Volume management
It is likely that, with the return to the gym, the desire that we have to perform exercises that we could not do before will be many. But how many exercises and how many series should we do?
- We went from not training (or training little) to do the same training as an athlete with a lot of experience. The same happens when, after a forced pause such as quarantine.
- This mistake can translate into injuries that could have been prevented and will further delay the process.
- We know that the minimum volume needed to progress is less than what most expect, so why do so much with the risk of injury if with less we can continue to progress? Starting with 50% of the volume we used to make before the quarantine is a good start.
Frequency and Selection of Exercises in the Gym.
We have understood that one of the keys is to redo the basic movement patterns, which we can identify as:
- Squat (squat, Bulgarian squat, press).
- Hip hinge (deadlift, hip thrust).
- Horizontal / Incline Push (bench press, incline dumbbell press).
- Vertical push (Military Press, shoulder press).
- Horizontal traction (oars).
- Vertical traction (chin-ups, chest pull).
Having a medium-high frequency on certain movement and exercise patterns does not mean the heavy workout.
Back to the gym: not to rush.
Having said about the precautions, it is time to implement them. We know that to avoid useless injuries and discomfort, we must take into account certain principles:
- Medium-high frequency of movements
- Gradually regain strength
- Moderate training volume (example: 50% of what you used to do)
- Do not overdo it with failure, leaving 1-3 reps in the chamber (RIR) and with elevated loads.
- Choose an exercise for and repeat it twice within the week, changing the intensity and the target number of repetitions.
- Then we can progress weekly by increasing the sets, adding exercises and increasing the intensity, depending on individual goals.
- Rushing can lead to joint overuse problems, discomfort, inflammation or tendon problems that we want to avoid completely.
Do not worry if in the first training sessions you realize that you have taken many steps back in performance. Because with effort, dedication and patience within a couple of months we will return to the level previously reached. A big hug to all gym managers and owners for the return to activity. May you come back stronger than before!