As hard as it might have been for you to say goodbye to your gym during the pandemic, it’s going to be so much harder returning to your usual routine after such a long break. But maybe it wasn’t even the pandemic. Maybe you were recovering from an injury, or maybe you decided to devote more time to work and a few weeks turned into months. Maybe you burned out and just didn’t feel like going to the gym anymore (or even working out at home). The point is, for some reason, you have been away from the machines for a long time and now you’re looking to get back to form as quickly as possible.
In that case, it’s natural to picture yourself returning to the gym like the fit machine you once were, but do you start right where you left off? Or should you take it down a notch? Without the right counsel, almost all will jump straight back into heavy training and risk getting hurt. So before you rush into your gym early on the day it opens, take a look at these 8 tips to help you get re-started, right and safe.
Get Back to the Gym after a Long Break with These 8 Simple Tips
1. Go In With Realistic Expectations
Starting off, we suggest that you take account of your current level of fitness. After a long break from working out at the gym, you might have lost some of your former strength or endurance. You might not be able to lift as heavy as you once did or hold that position as long. And that’s completely normal. Training your body is like doing math. It’s easy to lose your touch if you haven’t been practising even for a few weeks. So go in with realistic expectations and be honest with yourself. You’ll be back to your past glory – or even better – your best has yet to come.
2. Scale Back Your Time At The Gym
Yes, limit your visits to the gym to around half your earlier frequency. Your body needs time to readjust itself to the style and amount of training you were accustomed to, before your break. If you used to go all-out, six days a week (seven?), then cut it down to three days a week. Even if you’ve been exercising regularly at home all this time, It’s important to understand that training at the gym is another story altogether//a whole different story. Also, start with only 10-15 minutes of exercise for a couple of weeks, then gradually increase your stay at the gym.
3. Warm-Up Before Workout
Now for what you will be doing once you’re inside the gym – that familiar place which radiates passion and ambition! You’ll be tempted to hop on your favourite machines right from the get go. But before you dive straight in, take the time to warm up and move your joints around a bit to shake off that little “rustiness”. Warming up will be especially necessary because your flexibility may have decreased after a long break from the gym. Some stretching and foam rolling will help you get in the groove, protect you from injuries and ensure a quicker recovery after workouts.
4. Do Fewer, Low-Intensity Exercises
In your first few weeks back at the gym, begin with a low volume and intensity of training. Specifically, pick a few simple exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench presses and do a single set for each. And keep intensity to around 50-60% of your original. To avoid too much strain on your muscles, don’t lift too heavy and focus on good form instead. It’s even better if you include some flexibility workouts and mobility drills like Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) in your routine. As you work your whole body, you can gradually increase the number of sets and total exercises to get back to the way you trained before.
6. Cool Down Post Workout
You can expect soreness in your muscles simply because you’re doing a new exercise, increasing your workout intensity, or in this case, getting back to the gym after a long time. This situation is commonly known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and you’re most likely to feel it the day following your post-break workout. Although some level of soreness is unavoidable initially, you can certainly reduce it by cooling down at the end of your training sessions. Spending a few minutes walking around and doing some stretching will bring down your heart rate and reduce muscle soreness.
To help recover faster, try using this ayurvedic pain relief spray after workouts.
7. Take Adequate Rest
This one might seem counterproductive to your comeback mission. We’ve already suggested keeping your time at the gym to the shorter side and sticking to simpler exercises. Now this? You may feel like going into beast-mode to compensate for time “lost”, after being in rest-mode for so long. But remember that failing to take adequate rest means you’ll have a harder time dealing with stress and pain after sessions. Your body needs to “heal”, strengthen connective tissues and build work capacity. Sleeping and relaxing your body are the quickest and easiest ways to do this.
8. Eat Right To Recover Your Gains
Food is the fuel to (restarting) your fitness goals. You’re going to need an ample supply of energy going back to the gym after a long time. While getting your exercise routine on point is important, eating right is just as necessary. During your break, you may have let those scrumptious, unhealthy treats get the better of you! Now that you’re hitting the gym again, it’s time to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. You’ll want to be conscious of what you’re eating since the wrong foods can make you feel bloated and tired. A clean diet will help you recover your gains that much faster.
You must put aside what you used to do and focus on what is in front of you. Being patient yet consistent is essential. Following these simple tips even after a period of inactivity will help you rebuild that strength and endurance you may have lost.
Listen to your body as you go: you’ll want to push it so that you’re gradually challenged, but not stressed. That can be a fine line, so pay attention to warning signals such as pain, soreness, or discomfort.
Give yourself plenty of time to rest after workouts and eat healthy. And don’t hit the floor too hard (no, literally don’t!). If you get injured, you’ll find yourself spending more time out of the gym, again.
Now that would defeat the whole purpose, right?
Workouts such as yoga or pilates are a great way to get started after a long break.