That first ‘back to gym workout’ after a long break can be a daunting and confusing experience, you have no momentum behind you, you don’t know how much of your hard-earned gains have vanished and you feel altogether apprehensive about stepping foot through the gym doors.
But fear not, In this post I will share 5 workout tips to ensure your back to gym workout routine is sicker than the first person to think raw bat would be a solid source of protein.
Don’t Be Discouraged
For most of us, depending on where you live in the world and how well your country handled the quarantining of the virus, it will be around 3 months since gyms closed their doors to the public and left us seek out gains for ourselves like a bunch of animals.
What this means beyond the fact that I am now even more convinced that people who enjoy cardio must have no souls, is that a lot of the progress we had made in relation to resistance based training will have diminished and for many of us this will mean we feel somewhat defeated.
The important thing when you decide to partake in your first back to gym workout, is that you view your current abilities in the gym as a product of the circumstances you have been under these past months. Unless you are one of the few lucky enough to have a home gym, you have lacked the facilities and equipment to provide your bodies with an adequate stimulus to maintain all of the the gains you had made, and there is NOTHING wrong with that!
One of the most important things to implement in your workout routines when you start to become active again and especially on your back to gym workout – is having fun. As discussed in the previous tip, if you walk through the door and tell yourself you are going to smash a big, dirty AMRAP leg session to kick things off because you ‘need to wake the muscles up’, not only will you need to be chauffeured around in a wheelchair for the next 4-5 days whilst you think about what you’ve done, but you will likely be sorely disappointed in your performance and feel demoralised about returning.
So unless you are the kind of masochist that enjoys that sort of mental and physical torture, I would recommend toning down the intensity and picking exercises that you enjoy – this way you allow your muscles and nervous system to be gradually reintroduced to working under load again thus avoiding injury, and you have an experience that makes you hungry to come back for more.
Gauge Where about’s You Are
Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you are not superman/woman and you are in fact susceptible to the reversibility principle of training, you can be at peace with the fact you will have taken a couple of steps backwards and use that that to propel yourself 10 steps forward. Use your first few gym workouts to gauge how much you have lost and where exactly your desired characteristics of fitness lie.
It is important to note that I do not mean you should run to the nearest bench with your mate and immediately start adding 10’s to the bar until you blow a blood vessel – this will surely end in a longer hiatus than the one we’ve just had and see you planning another back to gym workout in about 6 months time. Accurate and safe ways to predict your absolute strength have been reported in multiple studies through submaximal testing, a study by Reynolds et al found 5, 10 and 20 rep sets to be very reliable as a predictor of 1 rep max in both the bench press and leg press.
For those of you that want to utilize the formulas they created, and/or learn a bit more about the subject of sub-max testing I recommend giving the paper a read. However, if you would rather skip the reading or require a formula for a different lift – I’m sure there are many calculators you can find online that utilize the maths used in this or similar studies.
Set New Goals
If you are like me, this time off has given you a chance to reflect on what it is that you really want to achieve in fitness. I have found over the years that my goals are forever changing, so frequently that often I never even get to the finish line of one before I redirect myself and focus on something new.
However, my complete absence from all things fitness has given me the chance to contemplate exactly how I want to build my body and what I want it to able to do, with this in mind I will be completely restructuring my gym routine when I return.
Think about what it is that you have missed about the gym and what you want to be able to achieve now you are back, because if your goals have changed – your gym workouts have to as well. When I am working with clients I often have them structure their goals in the format of 3 short terms, 2 mid term, and 1 long term goal. This ensures that they are continuously working towards goals and more importantly, consistently achieving.
Seek Out Advice
It may seem like a bit of a moot point to a lot of people, especially if you are like me and have a habit of enjoying the challenge in working things out for yourselves. However, now more than ever we are in uncharted territory with regards to the gym and we can’t expect ourselves to know all the answers.
Don’t be afraid to speak to other gym members (from a safe distance of course..) and find out how they are handling their return to the gym environment – share workouts, nutrition plans and workout tips.
Another avenue you should investigate is that of personal training, I am aware this may sound a bit disingenuous coming from one, but every trainer I have spoken to has very open timetables given the current circumstances and as a result, they are more likely to drop prices and have more time to focus on you. So if you are still hesitant on how best to approach your back to gym workout and want some help structuring your workout routine, seek out a professional.
As always I encourage you to ask me any and every fitness-related question you may have, so if you want further advice specific to your situation, feel free to message me via the contact page and I will be more than happy to help.
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