How to face going back to the gym after COVID19

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The return to the gym will be possible, after months of closure and with all the necessary measures, the gyms will reopen, resuming their functions almost completely.

This article is aimed at all people who in recent months have not practiced any type of physical exercise with loads, or who have trained with little material at home and who, with the return to the gym, will resume their routines completely.

Instinctively, being able to finally use all the machines and discs that one wants, many people are induced to start over with what was done before.

In many cases, this is not the best approach and it is good to consider some measures to ensure an optimal resumption of workouts and to minimize unnecessary stress and possible injuries.

Back to the gym: movements and exercises

As we have said, regaining strength and fitness will not be difficult, but how to do it is a key factor.

It is essential to regain confidence with the different movement patterns, work angles and types of stress to which we are subjected. Not only the muscles should return but especially the joints when we start the return to the gym.

Not having performed movements for many weeks has undoubtedly negatively affected control, technique and proprioception and, therefore, the ability to perform exercises with high intensity and safety (the more complex an exercise, the more evident be).

If, for example, for months we have trained the glutes and the legs at home with the Bulgarian squat with dumbbells, beware of doing very loaded squats with a bar from the first moment: the quads and glutes could be conditioned, but the back may have lost tolerance to load, knees lost tolerance to tension and mobility.

Doing many exercises that have not been done for a long time is more stressful on the body, causes more soreness (DOMS) and slows recovery, especially if we talk about exercises that place greater emphasis on stretching, such as the parallel dips, Romanian deadlift , etc…

It is important in the first weeks of returning to the gym to condition the whole body and not just the muscles.

Rushing can lead to joint overuse problems, discomfort, inflammation or tendon problems that we want to avoid completely.

Back to the gym: volume management

It is likely that, with the return to the gym, the desire that we have to perform exercises that we could not do before will be many. But how many exercises and how many series should we do?

Sometimes, we who are passionate about training, we go too far, we take the example of athletes or models and try to follow their methods to achieve the same great body, without having carried out a certain growth process in advance.

We went from not training (or training little) to doing the same training as an athlete with a lot of experience. The same happens when, after a forced pause such as quarantine, we can go back to training.

This mistake can translate into injuries that could have been prevented and will further delay the process.

We know that the minimum volume necessary to progress is less than what most expect, so why do a lot with the risk of injury if with less we can continue to progress?

Starting with 50% of the volume we used to lift before quarantine is a good start.

Frequency and Selection of Exercises around the gym

We have understood that one of the keys is to redo the basic movement patterns, which we can identify as:

  1. Squat (eg squat, Bulgarian squat, press);
  2. Hip hinge (eg deadlift, hip thrust);
  3. Horizontal / Incline Push (eg bench press, incline dumbbell press);
  4. Vertical push (eg Miltar Press, shoulder press);
  5. Horizontal traction (oars);
  6. Vertical traction (eg pull-ups, chest pull);

At first, it might be a good idea to use a slightly higher frequency on certain exercises, until we regain both the load intensity (the pounds we lift) and the perceived intensity (the proximity to muscle failure).

If you are like me, it is very likely that the desire to jump and return to the pre-confinement levels is very high, but it is good to approach in a rational way.

Having a medium-high frequency on certain movement and exercise patterns does not mean entering the gym and lifting as much as we can lift as if nothing had happened.

It is not advisable to perform, for the moment, series very close to failure and / or with loads close to 1 repetition maximum, but we should not enter the gym just to warm up: balance and rationality.

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Back to the gym

Now that we know how important it is to take certain steps before heading back to the gym, it’s time to put it into practice.

We know that to avoid useless injuries and discomfort, we must take into account certain principles:

  1. Medium-high frequency of movements
  2. Gradually regain strength
  3. Moderate training volume (eg 50% of what you used to do)
  4. Do not overdo it with failure, leaving 1-3 reps in the chamber (RIR) and with high loads

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