Returning to the gym after time away is a high risk period for injuries. These five tips can help make your resumption of exercise a success.
1. Perform a short whole-body workout rather than targeting one muscle group with multiple exercises. Your muscles have become weaker without exercising. As a result, your muscles will be much more sore following a workout after this long break from training. Spending a whole gym session targeting one muscle group risks becoming so sore you are unable to attend your next training session. It also risks an injury to those muscles and joints by forcing them to endure a load for which they are not ready. It’s much smarter to complete a short, whole-body workout and be able to back up a couple of days later.
2. Your body’s tolerance has changed, you’ll need to lift lighter weight than you were used to. The reasons for this are the same as for Tip Number 1. When you return to the gym, you won’t return as strong as when you stopped training . Your joints aren’t prepared for the same amount of load. To prevent injuries when you return, it’s smart to lift 60% of the weight you lifted when you stopped training. The recent lack of training means that you will feel the effect of exercising even with lifting much lighter weights.
3. Dedicate time to perform a substantial warm up. Your muscles and joints will be stiff and tight. Most people talk about warming up but don’t actually do it. Performing a proper warm up is more important than ever after a long break from exercising. Stretch your hips, thoracic spine, ankles and shoulders. Perform warm up exercises that target your rotator cuff, glutes and core. This will help prevent injuries when you first resume exercising.
4. Your core muscles will be weak, you’ll need to ensure perfect form with dead-lifting and squatting. Your core muscles protect your spine from injury when you perform these exercises. These muscles waste away without exercising so you will need to be very careful when you return to dead-lifting and squatting.
5. Get any aches and pains assessed before you resume training. If you had any niggles prior to your break from the gym, it’s likely they will be there when you return to exercising. Injuries due to lack of mobility and muscle imbalances won’t fix themselves by being more sedentary.
These tips are general in nature and not specific to you and your medical history. We hope you find them helpful.