As states around the Country begin to reopen businesses, one of the most anticipated locations is your local gym.
Funnily enough it doesn’t seem like that many people go to the gym (at least frequently), all of a sudden they close, and there’s a massive uproar...what do I know? I digress…
Regardless, as you're reading this, maybe your gym has opened up already, and if not your time is coming in the next few weeks (Unless you’re in California, you’re probably still a bit of ways away).
Of course as the industry ebbs and flows, so does content creation. Fitness accounts are going to start making content on how to return to the gym. Although most of them will superficially say, take it slow, take it easy, don’t rush back into it. Hell, I think even the Rock answered this question on his Instagram.
It’s great advice, but still a little bit vague and open ended for a lot of gym patrons, so here are 4 tips to get rockin’ and rollin’ on immediately as you walk through those gym doors.
2020 might go down as one of the craziest years in the World’s History. American History without a doubt.
But regardless of your take on the Coronavirus situation and the following lockdown, doesn’t change the fact that businesses are beginning to reopen. That being said, just because we are starting to return to some sense of normalcy doesn’t mean that the virus is gone and over with.
So yes, you might not be worried about getting sick, maybe you live away from your loved ones so you have no fear of spreading it to others, but that doesn’t mean that others share the same sentiment.
Be mindful of others' space, be mindful of your germs, wipe down any equipment you use thoroughly , and just generally be a decent human being.
Don’t be this guy.
And for those who may still be on the fence about exposing themselves to the virus and sickness in public, don’t feel the need/pressure to rush back.
The beautiful thing about fitness, is that it always comes back. Keep doing what you’ve been doing at home, stay safe, and the gym will always be there waiting for you whenever you’re ready.
Evaluate Quarantine Gainz
Over the past few months, we’ve all approached fitness in different ways. Depending on the equipment you had available, space, and time, our fitness has all looked a bit different.
Some people continued working while others got laid off.
Some people proactively bought Walmart out of dumbbells while others waited and got left out.
Some people had entire rooms and spaces dedicated to fitness, while others may have had a corner.
But if one thing is for sure is that fitness has looked vastly different from person to person.
The way you worked out over the past few months, will dictate going forward, how quickly you can transition back into normal gym fitness.
Of course, if you have a room in your house that looks like Dwayne Johnson’s Iron Paradise, then you would likely have a seamless transition back into the gym. But if you did have all that stuff, you likely wouldn’t NEED to go to a gym.
On the flip side, if you’ve been doing resistance bands and body weight workouts for 3 straight months, then your transition will and SHOULD be slower.
General rule of thumb, the farther away your home workouts were from your regular gym workouts, the slower you should take the process of getting back into the gym.
Use 50% of your normal weights
This is one of the reasons why keeping a lifting journal is so important. If you typically keep track of your workouts, you can easily pop open your book (or app), and see EXACTLY what the last workout you did in a gym was.
If not, this will be more of a guess for you.
But going back to tip #2, odds are your home workouts were probably pretty different to what you’re used to doing.
To avoid any potential injury, you should probably take the ramp up to working out pretty slowly.
And what will likely be the number 1 cause for injury amongst people returning to the gym will be going too heavy, too quickly.
If you were bench pressing 100lbs back in March, as silly as it may feel, work up to 50 lbs your first day back.
Will it be easy? Maybe. Hopefully.
Could you jump right back in and do 100 lbs again? Maybe. Hopefully.
But if you do jump back right into 100lb bench presses and your body isn’t quite ready for it, you’re surely booking your one way ticket to snap city, so it’s best to just play it safe to start, and work your way back up.
So although some may say to cut your volume in half (doing 2 sets of 10 instead of 4 sets of 10), you could still potentially use too heavy of a load and put yourself at a much higher risk of injury.
Reducing your load by AT LEAST 50% will provide a safe starting point while still allowing yourself to go through a full workout.
Machines are your friends
In the movie iRobot, led by great linguist, masterful presenter, and shining light of a human being Will Smith, machines (robots specifically) try to take control of the human race.
Machines are still evil and will eventually prevail over flesh and blood, but not in this scenario.
One of the greatest advantages of using free weights (dumbbells and barbells) is the ability to use stabilizing muscles in order to carry out a movement.
A machine has a set track of movement whereas free weights have the freedom to move in whichever plane of direction. So stabilizing muscles such as your shoulders, triceps, maybe even a little bit of core, are used in conjunction with the chest in order to properly perform a bench press.
With a machine that guides the movement for you, these stabilization muscles are less critical and less activated.
So why would we not want to take advantage of free weights and activate more muscles with one movement?
Odds are, if you have continued with your fitness at home over the months, either the weight you have used was much lighter, or the equipment you used as vastly different, with people utilizing resistance bands and bodyweight workouts far more often.
This said, your stabilization muscles that you were once using often in the gym, have laid dormant for several months. Maybe not dormant, but far less used.
So if your movement pattern has changed, using machines (at least to begin with) can potentially allow you to relearn forgotten movement patterns in a safer manner.
Once you feel comfortable and reacquainted with those movement patterns, you can begin to slowly reintroduce free weights into your routine. IF you’re feeling froggy, you can even add it to the end of that same if you felt as if just needed a quick recap.
At the end of the day, the important thing to remember is that fitness does return. It’s not like a phone you drop off a Roller Coaster into a pond below that can’t be recovered.
Fitness does come back.
With a little bit of time, effort, and patience, you’re going to be back to your normal working capacity in no time.
The last thing you want to do is search out those big weights that you’re used to, far too quickly, hurt yourself, and now you’re really in the hole.
Enjoy the process, enjoy the fact that the gym has returned, and enjoy your fitness life.