Updated: Aug 11, 2020
Slowly, but surely. Restaurants are opening. Churches are opening. Businesses are opening. And yes, gyms are opening! Whether you are anxiously eager to get back in, or are cautiously waiting a few weeks, many will head back to a gym within the next month or so after weeks of separation.
Hopefully the gyms are taking proper precautions, have the appropriate policies in place, and everyone is abiding by them. Assuming they are, and you decide to go back, what should you do? Go straight to deadlifting 400 pounds? Probably not.
You wouldn’t try to and race Usain Bolt if you hadn’t been training for the past 3 months would you? This is pretty much the same thing. It’s not even as if the past 3 months have been normal and you've been doing your usual routine with a decent activity level. The old standard of getting 10,000 steps in a day has now likely been reduced to something closer to 100.
All joking aside, you’ve been at home, and assuming you haven’t touched many weights, then you need to be pragmatic and calculated with your approach getting back into the gym and strength training. Now it also depends on what you’ve been doing in the meantime. Running? Biking? Working out at home with bodyweight and bands? Not working out? Whichever it is, your game plan should account for what you’ve been doing, and that you will give you an idea of where to start.
RUNNING/BIKING (OR ANY CARDIO-BASED EXERCISE)
Especially since it’s started getting warmer out, many people have taken to the outdoors to get their exercise in. Running, biking, hiking, walking, tennis, whatever you fancy. All of these more aerobic-based activities are fantastic and get you out of the house doing something fun.
Now while these may not directly transfer over to weightlifting, any kind of movement is better than no movement since you are still enhancing proprioception and body awareness through these activities. You are keeping your brain talking to your body which is always a good thing when it comes to strength training.
If these kinds of exercise have been the bulk of your working out, then the first 2-4 weeks back in the gym should be focused on movement quality, low to medium loads, and medium volume and intensity. While all of those activities are great, they each come with their own handful of issues they can create.
Been running? Focus on feet, ankles, calves and shins. Biking? You spend a lot of time bent over on a bike. Reinforce proper extension patterns and hinge (deadlift) mechanics. Tennis or any throwing-based sport? A lot of internal rotation and heavy bias on the shoulder and chest. Focus on the rear deltoids and mid-back.
These are general places to start, you should be working everything in your body, but this will give you an idea of what you may have been neglecting a little over the past few months.
The rest of this post will continue next week and will entail the at-home workout crowd as well as those who haven’t been as active!