5 Steps to ensure a safe return to gym

We’ve done it! We’re finally back to the gym and indoor physical activity after the monotonous lockdown. I’m sure everyone is itching to get back to their previous routine and hit all their previous goals and PBs, however, I’m just going to outline a few tips that may be helpful, before you guys dive back in.
1. Make sure that you have a set program upon your return. Having a plan and strategy is always the best way to ensure that you can achieve your goals. A full body program would be the most beneficial returning from limited activity.
2. Do not rush and lift the most amount of weight possible! This will only hinder your progress, and because we’ve been indoors for such a long time, our body will not be used to the rapid increase in load. Slow increments in weight should be encouraged to allow your body to adjust to its old routine. making sure to drop the weights to around 50% of what you were doing previously and slowly progress each week. Make sure to do warm up sets on all your exercises, even the small, isolated exercises, to ensure you reduce your risk on injury.
3. Make sure to follow an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) system rather than numbers.
10/10 = no more reps left (max effort)
9/10 = 1 more rep could be done
8/10 = 2 more reps could be done
7/10 = 3 more reps left etc
4. Gradually increase the days that you go to the gym. There is no rush to go back to 5-6 times per week. Start at 3 days on the first week, then 4 the next etc. Allowing for your body to adapt and recover is crucial and will allow you to progress further in the future.
5. It is totally normal to feel anxious and unsure when heading back into the gym after a long time. I feel it too, but I believe that because of the change in the environment, we have developed new comfort zones and they are quite difficult to overcome. The best way to overcome this is to make the first step inside the gym, take in your surroundings, acknowledge and appreciate the familiar faces and then start with the first exercise on your program. It will feel uncomfortable but that means you’re on the right track!
Make sure to always prioritise your sleep and eat well to add to the benefit of starting back at the gym. If any new or old niggles arise, make sure to consult your physical therapist so they can help you develop a plan to return to the gym promptly.
Dr. Micheal Morris
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