Tips For Getting Your Fitness Back Post Lockdown
on July 13, 2021 • Grace
With gyms and tracks reopening for the first time in months, many of us feel like life is finally getting back to some sort of normal. Home training sessions were useful for the basic fitness maintenance they afforded us, but for true gym or track lovers, nothing beats the buzz of hitting a tough session alongside other motivated and focused people, all working together to reach their goals.
But with all that pent-up energy and excitement to get back, there comes a common refrain: I hit it too hard on the first session back, and now I’m too sore to train for the rest of the week; or, I overestimated my abilities based on what I used to do before lockdown, and now I’ve injured myself. This is where we need to take a step back and remember that fitness is a journey: it took time to build up and will take time to build up again.
However, this does not mean we are starting from scratch. Studies on cardiovascular fitness have shown that, while initial fitness decreases by about 20% during the first few weeks without training, those who had trained regularly retain about 40% of their fitness even after more than two months. But what about muscle? One study tracked men who completed a 12-week weight training course but subsequently took twelve weeks off. These men lost most of the muscle they gained during their three months off, but within 8 weeks of resuming training, the muscle came back. This idea that muscle memory helps us get back to fitness more quickly gives hope to all of us who currently feel like weaklings and newbies all over again.
Two points here: Those who had trained for years before lockdown are not newbies, and their bodies will be able to more readily adapt to training again now that gyms are open again. And two, even if you had only been training a few weeks or months before lockdown,do not be deterred! Being a newbie is an opportunity to re-evaluate and establish new habits, ones that will benefit us most in our current circumstances. We could all benefit from the flexibility and excitement of the newbie mindset.
No matter where you’re starting from, the key is commitment over time. Remember the men in the weight-training study? They lost muscle and gained it back over the course of many months. Eight weeks of consistent training is significant; the muscle didn’t magically rematerialise the second the men lifted some dumbbells again. So how do we ensure we continue working out safely and productively in order to get where we want to be?
- Set reasonable and attainable goals. Do not try to do too much too soon or you risk frustration, burnout or injury. This is a process meant to unfold over weeks, months and years, not days, so take your time and appreciate each session as a necessary step towards your larger goals.
- Make a plan. Remember, routine is key to success! If gym sessions used to be part of your normal daily schedule, this should still be the case now, even if what you do at the gym looks slightly different than it used to as you begin to rebuild your fitness.
- Hire a trainer. Keeping people safe, effective and accountable while training is what we do. Even if you had been training for years before lockdown, it could be useful to have a professional double-check your form, give advice on moving back into a regular training schedule and make sure you stay on track. We all could use another set of eyes every now and again, and this fresh start is the perfect opportunity to get some feedback and begin establishing some best habits.