Back to the gym post-quarantine!
The good news is that it sounds like the gyms are going to be opening up soon!! I know some gyms have already begun to offer outdoor fitness classes, and others are developing strategies for safer, social-distanced workout indoors.
The bad news is that if you are anything like I am, you have not lifted a weight since the gyms closed!
As we go back to the gyms for the purpose of lifting weights, there are some consideration we should make. Most of us were not set up with a home gym to continue our strength training program. This means no matter how active you have been, you have deconditioned to some extent. This maybe evident by that giggly wiggly feeling you have. Therefore, there are some precautions we need to take:
- Make sure you perform a thorough, longer than normal warm-up
- Start with a lighter amount of weights; you may even consider doing fewer sets and using less weight.
- Increase weight, reps, and sets slowly. Remember progression and adaptation. Depending on your history, you may be able to be a little more aggressive, but be careful. It’s better to take longer to get back to full workout strength than to get hurt and be off longer.
- Take a longer warm-down and include some stretches, it will help with recovery.
I hope to see you in the gym soon, and less giggly wiggly’s!!
Work on Compounds
Compound movements lay the foundation for strength training programs. You probably didn’t even realize you were using them until now. Compound lifts are multi-joint movements like squats, dead lifts, lunges, rows, etc. It is important to emphasize on these lifts as well as incorporating isolation exercises to target specific muscle groups.
Compound lifts use the main muscles in the body and are a great tool to gain strength, cut down on time in the gym, and it also helps burn more calories. These multi-limb movements can also help improve overall balance and coordination. Isolation (focusing on one muscle group) exercises help build strength and muscle in specific targeted areas whereas compound lifts focus on overall strength. Both are very beneficial within a workout program so utilizing both can make for an overall well rounded workout!
Build strength with resistance bands
Resistance bands are a great way to add strength training into your workout, without having to use weights. Most resistance bands come with different levels of resistance, so that you can increase weight as you gain strength. They can be used for many exercises like hip bridges, squats and even for upper body movements like banded pull a parts. These take the place of weights allowing you to get resistance in your exercises without have to use a barbell or dumbbells.
Just like weights, they come in all different resistances, making them versatile for anyone! Resistance band can be used alone but also use in addition to weights. For example, when doing barbell squats one may use a resistance band around their highs (right above the knee) to up the intensity, as well as forcing the knees to stay pushed out creating the burn sensation in the glutes!
Bands are a great piece of equipment that can help get you started with strength training, or up the intensity!
Sleep for strength
We hear a lot that sleep is so important. It’s important for our brain, our energy and yes, muscle recovery. Sleep, especially REM sleep plays a crucial role in our body’s ability to recover. When we are in REM sleep your body releases muscle building hormones as well as human growth hormones. These hormone help build and repair the muscles that stressed and tight. REM sleep allows for the body to completely relax and release tension. This is the type of sleep that makes you feel the most rested. If you do not get enough sleep your muscles may pay the price. You might notice fatigue, weakness, and even lack of mental clarity. These factors can impact our strength training routines and can cause us to feel unmotivated. So if you plan to hit the gym tomorrow consider how much sleep you are getting. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep will help with muscle coordination and recovery!
Over time our bodies adapt to whatever stress we may put on it. Whether it is running, biking and, yes, lifting. When our bodies adapt, some may think that that’s where progress stops. Linear progression is the increase of weight being used over time. What does this do for our bodies you may ask? It puts stress on the muscles forcing them to work harder and adapt.
When linear progression is implemented into a strength training routine, it will result in strength and muscle growth. You don’t have to switch things up every week to notice results. By keeping things simple and slowly increase weight week by week, you’ll be able to push past that plateau you may think you’re in.