Gyms Have Reopened How Do You Restart Safely? COVID-19
Gyms across the UK have now reopened, and if you were an avid gym user before COVID-19, you’ve probably already run through the doors to get your daily endorphin rush. Home workouts have probably been your life for the past five months and stepping back in the gym has probably been the best thing to happen for a while. However, if you’re still waiting to get back to your regular gym routine and pick up where you left off, it’s essential to understand how to restart safely. Chance are your strength levels aren’t exactly how they were before the gyms closed and knowing the safest way to get back is essential to avoid any risk of injury. Even if you have been consistent with your home workouts, here are five vital tips to help you ease your way back.
Adhere to all safety rules
Firstly, you need to be safe in the gym. Post lockdown gyms have a lot of new rules and regulations that must be followed. Be safe and be smart. Please read our article on the new gym rules to find out what controls are in place. Additionally, all gyms have specific rules, so it’s best to visit your gym’s website to find out what rules they have before heading there. It’s also important to remember that COVID-19 still exists and it’s still possible to get become infected or spread it to other people. Gyms are ensuring they do everything they can to keep everyone safe, so following the rules will help them. Other steps to take to ensure you are minimising any risks are washing your hands frequently and keeping your distance, other things you can do are:
• Choosing low traffic time to go, some gyms have added trackers to their website so you can see how many people are in at certain times.
• Warm up at home to limit using a high-touch object such as mats and foam rollers.
• Limit exercises that require the use of a spotter to avoid breaking social distance rules or use lighter weights.
Begin with Lighter Exercises
You may be tempted to go straight over to a barbell or machine and load it with the same volume you used pre Covid-19. However, going too heavy to soon can leave you with severe injuries and frustration, especially if you can’t hit the same rep range as you used to. Now is the best time to embrace the beginner’s mindset and go back to basics, practising your form and improving on performance. Think about any bad habits you’ve always wanted to improve on but never got around to it, now’s your time.
The great news is that strength is a product of the central nervous system. Quite merely, strength is a skill and with minimal practice, your strength will improve rapidly similarly to riding a bike. You may feel slightly unsure when picking up weights again, but it’s important not to get yourself down about not feeling as strong. Your strength will return quickly as long as you start light and focus on a perfect technique.
Have Shorter Workouts
One of the new practices put in place since COVID-19 is reducing the time members spend in the gym. Many organisations have added limited timeslots to control foot traffic. This allows for firmer safety rules and comprehensive cleaning. So, unfortunately, if you’re used to long workouts, it’s time to condense these and implement a new structure to your routines.
Fortunately, training for long hours isn’t essential to gain results and shorter workouts can still get you great results. Now’s the perfect time to test new things and implement exercises that save time, such as HIIT or Tabata. Although rest periods are crucial, especially when lifting heavy weights and long, steady workouts are great for cardiovascular health. Some careful planning can allow you to reach your goals even in a shorter workout period. Here are some examples of how:
• Implement compound exercises over single-joint movements. These work for multiple muscle groups at once, such as bench press instead of chest fly’s and triceps extension.
• Try supersetting opposing muscle groups which saves time such as squats for lower body and lat pulldown for upper.
• Use a stopwatch to track your rest periods (2–3 minutes for heavy strength training and 30–60 seconds for lighter strength training should suffice).
• Still use home workouts to do your cardio and mobility workouts.
Focus on Areas You Couldn’t Do At Home
Going back to the gym will reacquaint yourself with equipment that you haven’t spent time with for months. This includes squat racks and cable machines which may bring great excitement to you and rightly so. After months of working out with no equipment, you’re probably sick of bodyweight exercises. Now’s a great time to focus on everything you couldn’t at home, such as bench press and heavy squats.
Keep Up Home Workouts
The fact that gyms have reopened doesn’t mean you have to drop your home workouts. Staying at home is still a recommended way to prevent the spread of the virus and if you enjoyed the convenience of at-home exercises, then combining them with gym workouts are a great option.
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By Ella Orrock