With gyms being able to reopen it feels like there is an influx of excitement and New Year’s resolutions have been given a second chance. My Instagram and social media feeds are full with motivated people hitting the gym for weights and cardio and this was all before I had my morning coffee. I was hit with a sense of anxiety and guilt that I wasn’t back at the gym, like I was under some sort of “pressure” to get my butt into gear, go lift some weights and post a selfie about it. The truth though, I’ve really enjoyed my new workout routine and mentally I’ve been better for it so for me my new goal is to try and resist the urge to go gym silly . Looking back, pre COVID I was overtraining, there was days I was doing three sessions a day (and I wasn’t even training for a fight or anything). I would wake up early go do a hot pilates/HITT session, I would then do weights during the day then at night do another HIIT session or Muay Thai session, why?? Because I felt guilty not training when I knew others were. I should know better too, I work in allied health, I have a Masters in applied science and a Masters in clinical sports rehabilitation, I know the how the body works and how it needs to recover yet here I was pushing it to the limits for no good reason.
Therefore, before you go rushing back into the gym and training every single day there is a few things we all need to consider and make sure our goals align. As humans we are bioplastic meaning we adapt and respond to our environment and the demands we place on our body; we exercise we get stronger, we stop being active we decrease in strength and fitness, this is “deconditioned” or “detraining”. The sad news is that deconditioning happens very quickly, with studies showing 10-14 days of no training will decrease strength, endurance, mass and metabolic functions.
I know we all want to make up for lost time but deconditioning has shown to increase your chance of injury and illness, the last thing you want is an injury after your first week of training. Research has found returning to high intensity and increasing loads too quickly after a break from the gym is linked to injuries in particular lower back and knee pain.
So what do we suggest?
- To prevent any injuries ease yourself back into your gym routine by reducing your intensity or decreasing your load to 70-80% of your pre COVID efforts.
- Post training make sure you stretch and have a nutritious meal.
- Listen to your body. Don’t ignore those warning signs
- Prioritise your sleep
- Start with a few days then increase each week
- Don’t start with a new diet and exercise plan in the same week. Pick one or the other. Get into a routine with one before introducing the other and the chances of you sticking to it for a longer period increases