Are you gym ready?

Are you gym ready?

Lockdown is easing and the date has been set for gyms to reopen (25th July). So the question is, are you ready? Are you ready to hit the gym after months of your daily home workout routine (or lots of Netflix and snacking), and get those hard-earned results that you want? Check out our recommendations for your first week back to the gym to make sure you do it safely!


Man using free weights in gym


COVID-19 Safe


Firstly, you need to return to the gym in the safest way possible, which means following government guidelines and your gym’s rules and regulations. You should not go to the gym or anywhere else for that matter if you have any flu-like symptoms. You should make yourself aware of the rules your gym has put in place before you go. Some gyms will be doing temperature checks on arrival, they will no doubt be running at a reduced capacity, therefore, you may need to check via their website or an app before you head there and find it is too busy to go in. You may be expected to wear PPE in certain parts of the gym as well as be expected to carry your own water bottle and shower at home. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel the government guidelines are not being met or if the gym rules are not being followed, it’s okay for you to not want to be in an unsafe gym!


Go in with a plan


Before COVID-19 it was acceptable to potter about the gym or to wait (patiently) for a squat rack. However, these days you want to minimise your time in the gym to minimise your exposure. Plan your workouts so you know exactly what you are doing, however, allow for it to be flexible. For instance, if you cannot get on a certain machine have another machine as a back-up or do another exercise first. Having a plan in place also leads on to the next point of not overdoing it, as a plan can make sure you don’t do a set too many or over target certain areas of the body.


Don’t over-do it


Remember to work out responsibly in these uncertain times, it is important to listen to what your body is telling you. Exercise can be an effective way to boost the immune system, but over-training can have some negative effects. Therefore, if you are uncertain about what you should be doing please seek advice from medical practitioners. When returning to the gym it is important to ease yourself back in, especially if you have not had access to the weights that you normally use in the gym. A good way to microdose your way back into the gym environment instead of hitting it too hard in the first week can be done by following the below plan.


Warm-up: Warm-ups are often overlooked, but they play an important role in preparing the body for physical exercise. You may feel too pushed for time to include a warm-up in your gym routine but try and plan for one. You can read our in-depth blog on the importance of warm-ups here, however cutting it short, a warm-up is meant to prime your body to work at a higher intensity. You are more than likely going to be training at a higher intensity than before (during lockdown) so warm-up! Dynamic movements are a good place to get started and you should involve movements that you are going to be training.


Primary exercises: Three sets of two compound exercises such as a deadlift or squat. Compound exercises are exercises that focus on multiple muscle groups rather than working a muscle in isolation. Performing these at a controlled tempo with lighter weights, you could treat your first session back as a weighted mobility session. This will help you to get back into the swing of things and loosen the hips and ankles. It might be less fun for your return to the gym, but you will be better for it next time. Compound exercises also allow you to train more muscles at one time, which will benefit your reduced time in the gym.


Accessories: Followed by 1 or 2 accessory movements. Accessory movements are the exercises that help you to fill the rest of your gym session after your primary exercises, which in this case would be the 2 compound exercises. They allow you to work muscles in different ways so you can work on muscle imbalances and becoming a more resilient gym goer. You can also concentrate on other muscles that you may not have necessarily worked in your primary exercises, however, the idea is to not work them as hard (low weight) and instead do more reps than you would have done for your primary exercises.


Following this plan or similar on your return to the gym will help you to ease back into bigger lifts and pulls. It would be better to microdose your first week of being back in the gym than hitting it hard on day one and having serious doms for the next 6 days!

And lastly...


Get Sleep and Rest!


Koala resting in a tree


Sleep should not be undervalued right now. As mentioned in our previous blog, sleep should be the last thing to suffer when you are trying to keep your immune system strong and your mind at ease. Rest is also crucial to getting stronger. When the body endures a training session, it is effectively undergoing high quantities of stress and muscle damage. This stress feeling of soreness is at a microscopic level but results in that feeling of soreness we get in the following days, therefore, it is critical we allow muscles to heal before they are re-used and exposed to such levels of stress once again. Sleep is when the body releases the most important hormones that help muscles to heal and grow, which means a lack of sleep affects recovery rate and may delay improvements in strength. We always advise trying to hit 8 hours of sleep each night and ideally sleeping at least 1 hour before midnight.


We hope our recommendations help you to return safely to the gym when the time comes. To stay up to date with the government guidelines on recreational facilities such as gyms and the rules that are going to be in place then click here!


If you would like support returning to gym training or with your training in general, then we at MVP provide customised training programmes via our online platform. You can switch your training programmes when necessary, meaning when your situation changes (like going back to the gym), you can change your programme to suit. Get started with MVP by following the link below.


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Team MVP