Since May 20, all 50 states have started to relax the shutdown restrictions associated with COVID-19. The first wave of reopening included gyms – big box franchises and boutique studios. Understandably, many people are itching to return to their strength exercises – throwing some weight around is not an adjustable barbell. Aside from the safety precautions you should take before walking to your Iron Palace, there are other things you should consider to avoid going back to the gym.
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If you want to sweat or feel the need to make up for lost time, take a break, says Matthew Ibrahim, strength trainer, associate professor, and Ph.D. Student in athletic performance. To ensure that you make profits and avoid injuries, you want to manage your exercise frequency, intensity and volume. Here are Ibrahim’s top tips for a smooth transition back to normal movement.
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1. Walk slowly and gradually rejuvenate
Most people feel the pressure to change their bodies overnight because they haven’t been to the gym for so long. Scratch this thought and gradually work your way back into shape. Use the first month or two to really focus on flawless shape and technique, rather than focusing on weights and spending hours in the gym. Using controlled pace work such as eccentricity (slow descent) and isometry (pauses) will help you refine your technique when you start exercising again.
2. Start with the basics
First, stick to basic movement patterns. Sure, they may be boring, but they always produce results. Regardless of whether you’re training for overall health, athletic performance, or strength training, the results are what you ultimately strive for. Staying with the basic exercises means mastering the squat, the hip joint (deadlift) and the pushing and rowing of the upper body (horizontally and vertically). Start here and the rest will take care of itself when you put yourself back in the game.
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3. Readjust your baseline
A common mistake people make is trying to pick up where they left off. Get that out of your head. You’ve probably exercised with body weight, ligaments, or light weights in the past few months, which means your overall intensity has dropped. There is nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you meet your expectations when you exercise in the gym again. Start easier than normal and slowly increase the weight (intensity) in the first few months. There’s no hurry here either, so take your time.
4. Make wellness round
The simplest boxes you can tick off in terms of your health are sleep quality, good nutrition, and adequate hydration. In essence, these are the lowest hanging fruits in the recovery. Checking these boxes regularly will likely make it much easier for you to be successful in the gym and feel refreshed between workouts.
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5. Just move more
One of the simplest forms of physical activity that is often overlooked during exercise is a walk. Walk outside every day if you can now as the nice weather sticks out your head for summer. In addition to getting high quality vitamin D from the sun, you also benefit from breathing fresh air, relaxing from the stress of the day, and doing low-level aerobic exercise. It’s not just about intensive training. You also need some low intensity movements in your life.
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