Essential Guidelines For A Safe Return To The Gym After Lockdown


Lockdown has been hard on everyone. Australia’s brush with the global COVID-19 pandemic started 25 January 2020 with the return of a man from China. Australia, like many countries around the globe, has experienced an economic slowdown, brought on by the measures to contain the virus. In particular, this has meant closing many non-essential places, such as gyms.

However, most places are slowly reopening although they have processes in place to help reduce the spread of the virus and allow people to return to normal life. Of course, there are debates regarding what normal will look like after the pandemic.

One thing is certain, people will be thinking more about their actions and businesses will be taking extra measures to ensure customer safety. Here’s what you need to know before returning to your gym.


Speak To A Physiotherapist

This is potentially more important if you were physically active before the pandemic. You should look for physiotherapy near me and speak to them before you start exercising again. The problem for most people is that they are used to exercising at a certain level. If you haven’t been exercising and then suddenly jump back in at your old level you are likely to injure yourself.

Slow and steady is a better approach. This is true even if you have been managing to work out through lockdown. Speaking to a physiotherapist first will help to ensure that you have a set of warm-up exercises to guide you back into your old routine, without injuring yourself in the process.

Of course, a physiotherapist can also help anyone that is injured, ensuring you make a full recovery before you push your gym routine too hard.


Rest Periods

Whenever you are exercising a particular set of muscles you should give your body at least 48 hours to recover before working the same muscles. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid the gym, you simply need to define what you are working on.  For example, hit the gym on Monday and work your upper body. You can work your upper body again on Wednesday and, to help you keep active, do your lower body on Tuesday.

This technique should always be adopted and will help you to avoid injury while getting the most from your workout. Having 48 hours of rest will help to ensure that your body recovers properly from the exercise and is ready to do it again.

There is no harm in reducing the number of times per week you visit the gym. This will help you to get back to full strength and may even make it easier for others to make an appointment at the gym if needed.


Reduce Your Load

If you were comfortably lifting 100 pounds before the lockdown then you should start your lifting regime at 50 pounds. This will ensure you are comfortable and that you are performing the exercise correctly. You can then build the weight slowly. Ideally, you should take 5-6 weeks to reach pre-lockdown lifting levels.


Intensity before Numbers

You may be accustomed to doing three sets of eight reps while trying to build strength or three sets of twelve reps t build stamina. But, you are out of practice. That means your focus should now be on getting the intensity right first.

Again, you should start lower. That means where you are at approximately six-tenths of your usual intensity. Build the intensity each week by a tenth, it will take several weeks to get back to the full intensity which is when you are at the failure point.

By doing this gradually you will reduce the likelihood of injury and get back to your old rep level surprisingly quickly.


Warming Up

It is essential that you develop a set of exercises to help you warm up before you exercise. Pilate and yoga have been shown as good ways to stretch muscles before and after working out.

Don’t forget, before you workout you need to be mimicking the movements that your muscles are about to make. This will help them to warm and be loose enough to handle the extra lifting.

Once you have finished the warm down is all about stretching the muscles to avoid DOMS and other post-activity issues. This type of exercise involves pushing the muscles you have just used and holding the pose to stretch them and maintain nutrient flow.


Be Cautious

In the past you lay have effortlessly skipped 100 times or jumped on top of a hay bale. However, you have been in lockdown. That means being cautious about specific activities, including jumping, skipping, and similar movements. If you haven’t been doing them during lockdown you need to allow hours between sessions.

It is also a good idea to limit the number of foot contacts to 40 per foot. This helps to ensure your feet and the rest of your body is not placed under undue strain. You can gradually increase it to get back to pre-lockdown levels.


Check Nutrition

It is a sad fact but most people have let their nutritional habits slide during the lockdown. You need to take stock of what you have been eating and make sure you are making healthy choices. Don’t forget, you need to burn more calories if you are exercising regularly. That means you can eat more but it must be the right items.

Again, it can help to take your time getting back into healthy eating habits. Change a little each day and you will quickly find you are losing any excess weight you have collected and felt good for your workouts.


Get Plenty Of Rest

When you sleep your body has the opportunity to repair cells and process the activities of the day. It is an important part of the recovery process as well as helping you to stay healthy. Scientists recommend you get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. This is a target and can vary from person to person depending on your metabolism, activity rate, and several other factors.

The key takeaway is that you get enough sleep, which means waking up feeling good, not drowsy. You may not even need your alarm clock!


Check the Gym Guidelines

It is essential before you visit your gym that you check their guidelines if they have any. Most gyms are operating a mask policy in public areas, that you bring your own hand sanitizer, and that you wipe all machinery over with supplied disinfectant spray when you have finished using it.

However, you need to check with your gym what restrictions and regulations they have in place to make sure you comply. This could include making an appointment so that they always know how many people are in the gym.


Deal With Pain Promptly

If you do notice any niggles or more serious pain when you start exercising again you need to see professional help straight away. In most cases, the best approach is to see your physiotherapist. They can assess the injury and give you a list of exercises that you can do to help it heal and strengthen the area for the future.

It is essential that you get help promptly to ensure you can keep going to the gym and you don’t turn a little pain into the end of your love affair with the gym.


Respect Other Users

One of the biggest issues after the pandemic will be how people’s confidence is shaken. Normal activities may be approached with a lot more caution and many people may be warier about being in areas with others.

When heading to the gym you need to be aware of these people and their feelings, ensuring that you do everything you can to accommodate people around you and help everyone enjoy the benefits of the gym.

With a little effort, you and other users can support each other to help everyone rebuild their fitness levels and come out of the pandemic stronger.


Final Thoughts

If you have managed to maintain some sort of exercise routine during a lockdown you will find it easier to return to the gym and less likely that you will experience an injury. However, it is still possible and important that you follow these tips, ensuring you and other members stay safe.

Should you have given up on exercise or not have been able to do any, you may need to adopt an even more cautious approach to your gym activities. There is no harm in starting with the basics again and working your way back up over a matter of weeks. The important thing is that you start going again and keep improving.

Of course, restarting an exercise program is also a great opportunity to focus on your technique rather than weight limits, or even to completely redesign your workout program. Changing your approach and routine can actually have a greater effect on the results than simply trying to get back to your pre-lockdown routine.


By Jesse Huges

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