Your gym is open FINALLY!
You’ve got yourself booked in for a 1-hour time slot for the next 3 days.
But then it dawns on you.
You haven’t trained with weights, machines or any equipment for over 2 months!
What do you do?
It’s time to face the facts…
You’re Not Going To Be At The Same Level As You Were Before
It’s just a fact. Unless you have been able to motivate yourself to train at the exact same intensity as you did in the gym and with the same facilities the gym provided for you, you are going to be a little weaker, a little slower, a little more unfit… it’s just reality of the situation.
Let’s assume you have only been able to train at home using your body weight and some resistance bands, like most of us. No matter how creative you are with your exercise choice and resistance band incorporation, it’s not the same as a dumbbell or barbell or a weight plate machine. While your body may have been able to maintain some size and some strength without the gym those exercises you have done for a couple of months are going to feel not only weird but weak.
You Are Going To Be Sore
It’s as simple as that. You are going to be sore. We are talking ‘the first week of weight training of your life’ kind of sore. Yeah, be ready. This is because, just as mentioned before, you have not performed those exercises you used to do daily in a while. Even if you have been doing 100 push-ups daily, get under that barbell and tell me you feel just as strong as you did.
Your body is going to be in shock after that first workout back in the gym and to go with that you will pull up real sore, and real tight. So please, be ready to stretch and take care of your body.
Okay, now we have those two main points covered, let’s get into the real do’s and don’ts!
What You Should Do When Returning To The Gym
Most importantly is to remember these tips and tricks are applicable to a number of different situations you may face in your life. Returning to the gym after it being closed for 2-3 months due to a global pandemic is certainly unique but everything we go through is also relevant for someone returning after losing motivation and not training for a few weeks. Even if you have suffered an injury that has taken you out of the gym, all these tips are helpful for you.
How To Make A Training Comeback
Start Off Slow, Real Slow!
Please, whatever you do, don’t run back into the gym and jump under the barbell with your 3-month-old working weight. Please, don’t do that. When we say ‘start off slow’ we mean literally use your first gym session as a GIANT warm-up session. You shouldn’t fail, you won’t need a spot, and your weight choices will be light.
You’re going to have to fight every part of your body wanting to load up the bar or the drop that pin lower on the weight stack but put yourself in the position of someone recovering from an injury, do you think they would jump into a workout and load up the weight straight away? Of course, they wouldn’t!
Literally, everything. Don’t go and jump straight into a chest session and spend the next 60-90 minutes hammering nothing but your chest with every exercise under the sun. While you don’t have to go around and just do one set of each muscle group and then leave, consider altering your workout split to something like an Upper Body / Lower Body split or even Push / Pull / Legs split for the first couple of weeks.
By ‘spreading’ the focus of what your training in that one session over half the body or close to that much, it will allow the body to handle the stress of training a lot more than just hammering the one single muscle group and then not being able to use it for a whole week. Remember, the DOMS are going to be next level again.
Keep It Short, Sharp & Shiny. This is where some gyms only allowing a 1-hour session booking is actually going to help you here. I don’t know how many more times we can say this but your body is going to FEEL those first few sessions. The last thing it wants to do it spend 90 minutes training at an intensity it hasn’t worked at for 3 months. Try and keep the workouts short, sharp and shiny.
Limit yourself to 45 – 60 minutes for the workout time, by doing this you will not only surprise yourself with how much you can actually get done when you’ve got a time limit but it will just condense the time you put your body under stress.
Keep the RESTS short. What’s the easiest way to make a lighter weight feel heavy? Give yourself minimal time to recover between sets. Not only will it help you bust out a workout super quick but it will also help feel better about choosing a lighter weight, which you should be doing.
Muscle memory is a thing. Your strength, size, fitness, endurance & health will all come back in good time. In most cases, they will all come back in much less time than it took to achieve in the first place. Even though you may feel weak, or you think you look ‘small’ or you feel unfit, just like you do, your body also remembers how things were and will remember how to get back to there as well!
Just as most of the tips and tricks in this article have been focused around taking it easy, not doing too much, focusing on taking care of the body you will also need to give it time to return to where it was before. Push yourself too much too soon and well it could end up taking even longer than it needed to getting back to where you were.