In addition to the stress and uncertainty of the last year, the closures of so many gyms and the fact that we’re now living under strict social isolation rules have made exercising harder than ever before.
Many individuals are now eager to get back into shape after having a pandemic induced “vacation” if you will. However, it is essential to recognise you won’t be able to immediately return to your previous levels of performance after a long break from physical activities.
Therefore it’s essential to manage expectations, set realistic goals, rebuild healthy habits and ease back into activities to minimise injury when getting back into exercise after a long break.
If you’re looking for ways to get back into shape after a long break from working out, here are five strategies to help you succeed. Whatever reason you had for taking time off, we’ll get you back up and running again.
4 Strategies to safely return to a training regimen after time off
1. Consult an osteopath
It’s a good idea to consult an osteopath for a full-body assessment before returning to the gym. At Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic, we conduct a full-body movement screen analysis consisting of several special tests from the best movement screens available. We look at mobility, flexibility, strength, weakness, stability, and control.
The results of your tests, along with our expert osteopathic knowledge, allow us to craft a bulletproof treatment (in the case of previous injury) or prehabilitation (in the case of muscle imbalances) plan specific to your needs. This allows for injury prevention and reduced risk of injury before hitting the gym.
2. Slow and steady wins the race
It would help if you started slowly by exercising 3 to 5 times a week. Try starting slow and gradually increasing duration and intensity as you get stronger. Don’t push yourself too hard if you’re new to working out. Start easy and work up to more challenging workouts over time. Keep in mind you don’t need to increase each and every session.
Listen to your body, and factor in lower intensity sessions. Increase in intensity or duration of your work out will come as your strength and endurance improve. It is essential your technique and form is sound with each and every repetition. Regardless of weight. If your form fails, the weight may be too great, and it is best to stop..
Pay attention to warning signs such as pain, tightness, or discomfort to reduce your risk of injury.
3. Muscle soreness
Contrary to popular perception, soreness isn’t a good predictor of whether or not you’ve had a decent workout. If you’re sore, it’s typically because you’re trying out a new activity or haven’t worked out in a while. So, if you’ve been away from the gym for a time, you’ll most certainly feel it the next day. We call this DOMS.
The good news is… The pain won’t stay forever. Once you get back into a routine of physical activity, you’ll notice that you can work out without feeling sore afterwards.
Ensure you warm up properly before exercising and cool down appropriately afterwards to recover faster. Adequate sleep, good nutrition, foam rolling, saunas, ice-baths may all help recovery.
4. Seek out a coach or personal trainer
Our Osteopaths love working with your coach or Personal trainers. They can help motivate you during your session, keep you accountable and ensure your technique is on point. Returning to training after an injury, we work closely with your fitness team to ensure we are all on the same page, and get you back as quickly and safely as possibly.
The most common mistakes people make getting back into the gym
- Doing too much, too quickly, and attempting to make up for lost time.
- Setting unrealistic fitness goals for workout performance.
- You don’t have a structure or plan for your workouts.
- Returning to old programming without taking into account your current situation.
- Failure to properly fuel workouts.
- Failure to get enough sleep, time off between workouts, and an inefficient recovery plan.
Final thoughts on getting back into the gym after a long break
When you go back to exercise after a long break, you should start slowly by doing less than what you did before.
As you ramp up your exercise, consider your nutrition, hydration and sleep habits.
Recovery is a critical component of overall health, so make sure to put time aside to rest.
The good news is that your body is amazing. As long as your general health isn’t dramatically different, implementing the proper training routine even after a long period of inactivity can allow you to rebuild any strength, flexibility and endurance you may have lost.