It's been a long time coming, but we will all be soon getting back to some normality. I am looking forward to getting back to "proper training" and classes. I certainly feel softer and weaker than I did pre Christmas.
In this newsletter, I want to advise you on ways to prepare yourself to go back to a regular gym routine, laying a solid foundation for yourself whilst avoiding injury and getting off to a flier.
Greasing The Groove
The big mistake most of us will make when we go back to the gym will be comparing our current selves with what we could do before. If we try and do the same things at the same intensity as we did months ago, we will likely pick up an injury or two.
The key to avoiding this is permitting ourselves to go at a lower intensity than we used to, focus on the process rather than where we think we should be and drop our ego.
In the weeks running up to training in gyms again, we can lay a solid foundation. I'd suggest you focus more on movement quality and exercises that will allow you to do build on this. For instance, exercises to strengthen your core, stretches to loosen your hips and mobility drills to keep your upper spine mobile will yield many benefits later.
Plank: build up to a 30-second hold. Anything longer is unnecessary, in my opinion. (30 seconds x 2)
Bird Dogs/ Supermans. Your focus should be on keeping your spine a stable as possible. Think about pushing your leg low and long, and reach the opposite arm as far as you need to as long as you keep stable. (10 a side x 2)
Upper Spine Mobility
Rest as needed between exercises
With Access To Weights
If you are one of the lucky ones who have some weights lying around at home, this is also an excellent time to rebuild your exercise foundation.
Regardless if you prefer to do a focused hour of exercise or little bits throughout the day, practising the movements with weights will get you ready for when you get back into the gym.
For example, I would typically do 3-4 sets of exercises in my more regular training routine. In the current circumstances at home, two sets are usually all I do. This way, I never skip a workout as I know it won't take long, it won't be hard, and I will benefit as my body remains used to the stimulus of resistance exercise.
If I want to make it harder, I slow my reps down using "Tempo" or give myself a little less rest. (For those that know me training-wise, I love my rest, so it's rare I do this, if I'm honest).
What About Cardio?
If you have a Peleton at home, you are one of the lucky ones and have likely been doing online classes for the last year. Good stuff, and keep at it!
For the rest of us, getting out for a walk each day or taking a light jog will be all we need. So my advice here is to start slow, start small and focus on consistency. Even a walk to the end of your road is a great starting point.
Having injured my back last summer from doing the classic zero to hero with running, I can now jog for a maximum of 20 minutes before my body starts to give me warnings signs that I am doing too much. I had to start with a 5-minute run initially, aiming for 3x a week, built that up to 10 minutes, to 15 minutes and now 20 minutes. In the beginning, I felt like I was wasting my time, but it was only later that I realised how important those first 5 minute runs had been.
They built my confidence in running pain-free; they built up my cardiovascular capacity gradually and, most importantly, got me in the habit of taking the time to run on alternative days.
You could try sprints also, as they are great for fat loss, but depending on your injury history, you will be on the riskier end of exercise choices due to their impact.
Personally, the idea of being in the same spot after being stuck all day indoors doesn't appeal to me. I enjoy the various scenery, people watching and listening to music with running and walking.
However, if you would like to try sprints, I would highly recommend looking into how to do "Tempo Runs", a more intelligent and safer way to prepare yourself for sprints.
Whatever you decide to do, in the build-up to gyms reopening, take it slow, focus on movement quality and do something you'll likely be able to do every couple of days.
Essentially, "Make it so easy for yourself; you can't say no to it.".
Yours in health.