Friday 10 July 2020

Expectations On Returning To The Gym

FINALLY! After what seems like an eternity, the gyms are going to reopen soon and some have already. We have been anxiously waiting for this moment. Perhaps there is a gleam in your eye, a spring in your step, an eager I-want-to-kill-it-in-the-gym snarl on your face. Regardless, we are ready!

But we need to adjust our expectations. There will be a new norm because of COVID-19: being extra diligent with cleaning the equipment before and/or after use, washing hands, not touching your face, and potentially booking training times to reduce the number of members training at the same time to give everyone space to name just a few considerations. Booking a training time may be a challenge especially if you train more than an hour. Yet what’s a bodybuilder to do when they only have a one hour training window? Does that mean if you can’t train the way you want, don’t train at all? Not at all but it does require you to adjust what you expect, given the circumstances, to accomplish when you’re in the gym. You may need to plan which exercises you do at the gym and which exercises you do afterwards, i.e., in the parking lot, at home, in your backyard, etc. Not ideal but it’s better than nothing. Learning to mentally accept, not like, this fact will help you be in a positive head space when training. The alternative is to focus on what you can’t do in the gym and this negative mindset can affect your performance both physiologically and mentally.

Another adjustment to our expectations involves returning to the gym but not returning to the weights we lifted prior to COVID-19. Unless you had access to a good gym during the lockdown period, it is not realistic to resume with the same weights. If you choose to do so, injury is a high probability because your ligaments and tendons haven’t been exposed to that training load in awhile. Remember it has been a good 2 months so start slow and gradually increase the weight over the coming weeks. In fact, ensure the first set or two is a ‘doable’ weight before increasing it. Focus on that mind muscle connection. Your body doesn’t know what you’re lifting/pushing/pulling; it only knows the degree of resistance. Other suggestions would involve doing more warm-up sets to better assess your current training tolerance, avoid training to failure for the first week or so as the purpose right now is to get reacquainted with the weights so use variety, i.e., dumbbells, barbells, cables, machines, and stretch! Stretching should be done after every training session and it would be reasonable to assume you may be tighter in certain areas (for me it is my hip flexors) over the lockdown.

Check your ego at the door, manage your expectations, train smart and be safe!

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