If you’ve spent lockdown hibernating and treating your home like an all-inclusive palace (lunchtime beer? why not, mid-afternoon toastie? bring it on), the announcement that gyms & swimming pools can start welcoming us back may or may not have been music to your ears. However, when you’re not in the habit of working out (be this through situation or injury), you lose progress. And with that in mind, you need to make sure you regress your routine and ease yourself back into working out.
Regardless of whether you’ve taken a few weeks, months or even years off from regular physical activity, there are some things to think about when you’re easing back into working out after a break in order to avoid over-reaching and/ or injury. Today I want to talk to you about taking your time, remembering to rest, listening to your body and making sure your workouts are balanced.
Go at your own pace
. . . unfortunately, you start to lose fitness after just two weeks of not maintaining your routine, which is why we all often struggle to get back into the gym after a holiday.
So it’s important to bear this in mind when starting to ease back into working out.
Start with the basics; make sure that you are warming up properly and preparing the body for the exercise that you’re about to do (focusing on hip flexors and leg muscles on leg day for example) and then correctly cooling down at the end of your session to return your heart rate to resting and stave off DOMS as best you can!
Then remember to take your time. It’s all well and good throwing yourself back into the gym and trying to match your PBs from January / February, but not matching these will leave you feeling defeated and deflated. Start slowly, building up the frequency, intensity (this applies to both the pace and weight of your workouts) and length of your workouts over the space of a few months to get back to your best. Not only will this be best for you mentally, but it will also help you avoid injuries too.
Remember recovery is vital
. . . in order to make progress; whilst physical activity stimulates changes to occur within the body as a result, without adequate recovery, they can’t happen.
Rest days are key to longterm wellbeing, they allow the body to repair and replenish itself and skipping them can again lead to over-reaching or over-training. However, resting doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing and it can be the perfect opportunity to incorporate some flexibility work into your routine or take a walk instead.
That said, make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Initially, you will feel more fatigued than you are used to as your body adapts to burning more calories and generally just moving more again. So hit the sack a little earlier or hit snooze if you need to do!
Listen to your body
. . . it will let you know if you’re pushing to too much, too soon!
They say you never regret a workout, but if you try to push through the pain barrier or continue to work out when something doesn’t feel right – you will. Chances are if something doesn’t feel right or comfortable, and you continue to work out, you will adjust your form and potentially overcompensate as a result.
Also Read: Running Guide: 5 Tips for New Runners
Proper form and technique are crucial for avoiding injury, so make sure you focus on quality versus quantity and respect your (new lower) limits.
Balance your workouts
. . . guess what unbalanced workouts can lead to? Yes, you’ve guessed it – injury!
A well-rounded work out regime will combine elements of cardiovascular endurance, resistance training and flexibility work in order to achieve your goals. The best way to achieve this balance is to work with or speak to a personal trainer, however, I know that that is potentially easier said than done right now. The WHO recommends that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week and that muscle-strengthening activities should be done on at least 2 days a week to compliment this.
Remember it’s OK to feel daunted as you try to ease yourself back into working out BUT by taking your time (and remembering that everyone is in the same boat) and making sure that you listen to your body, you’ll be back up and running in no time at all.