How to return to your pre-lockdown levels of fitness now that gyms are open

Over lockdown, everybody has had a different approach when it comes to fitness.

Some have been working harder than ever with living room sessions, others have mixed things up with outdoor workouts and running, while others have taken a break from being active.

Gyms are finally open again and loads of us can’t wait to get back into a regular routine, but after months of not stepping foot on a treadmill or lifting a dumbbell, many are realising that they have quite a lot of work to do.

It isn’t unusual to find that you have lost some of your fitness levels during lockdown. Maybe you’re a bit slower, or can’t lift as heavy – that’s OK. The key thing is to build things back up slowly and carefully.

This isn’t the time to be disheartened though, or to overdo it at the gym and injure yourself.

Anytime Fitness has already welcomed its members back safely, and now hopes to support them in the next steps of their fitness journey.

While the dumbbells may feel a bit heavier and those cardio sessions may seem more tiring and sweaty, Marvin Burton, Anytime Fitness Head of Fitness, has put together some simple ways to get back to your best and embrace the return to the gym:

How to rebuild cardio if you feel slow and lethargic

Marvin’s solution: First of all, don’t panic! You won’t be ‘match fit’ yet but you’re doing what you need to do; you’ve made it to the gym and all workouts are going to benefit you.

Don’t be tempted to overdo it and if you like running, cycling or rowing for long distances, you may have to re-evaluate and reduce your distance and speed.

Spend the first two-three weeks rebuilding your base level of fitness and once your muscles start to re-adapt and your lung capacity and chest muscles follow suit, you can up the intensity. 

What to do if you can’t lift the same weights

Marvin’s solution: We all love the rush of achieving a personal best or completing a heavy lift but for now, it’s time to take a step back and rebuild.

If you need to, reduce the weight, repetition range and the amount of working sets to ease yourself back in.

Then, before you consider adding weight, adapt other variables of the exercise such as the tempo of your lift or rest time.

Going hard too soon can lead to significant delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which could mean two-three days recovery before being able to train again.

It may be a slight hit to the ego initially, but muscle memory will return and you can get back to lifting those heavy weights again. 

How to improve energy levels and recovery

Marvin’s solution: Your workout intensity at home may not have matched what you did in the gym before, and as you increase your exercise levels, you will need to increase your daily calorie intake.

This is due to the increase in your metabolic rate, replacing what you are losing through sweat and to combat the increased work that your organs and muscles are required to do.

Not doing this will mean your recovery will be hampered and your energy levels dip.

Remember to drink more water, eat more healthy food and reduce anything that is counter-productive, such as processed foods or excessive levels of caffeine and alcohol.

It’s also really important to make sure you’re being careful and safe when you had back to the gym.

We have already written about safety advise to minimise your risk of injury and make sure you’re training effectively during your first few visits back.

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