If you have been out of the exercise game for a while then returning to the gym can seem like a daunting task, here are some simple steps to help you slowly and safely ease back in without losing your motivation or becoming injured. This guide has been designed as there shouldn’t be any pressure or rush to get fit – this is the number one problem that people think they have to set a deadline on fitness.
Fitness is for life – take your time – do it properly.
Self-Evaluate and Get The Green Light
As a side note – depending on your health levels you may need to seek a medical opinion and get the all-clear from your doctor, especially if you are older in years, have risk factors for heart issues or lung problems. Some facilities may even require this before you train there – consider wearing a heart rate monitor while you train to keep you safe.
Choosing the right exercise when returning to the gym that you enjoy and that suits your body and capability is key. Consider all options such as Pilates, Thai chi, gym or home exercise, or going for a brisk walk. Ensure you are motivated and perform something low intensity and small amounts to begin. Take into consideration factors such as cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility to guide your choices.
Preparation is key
Warm-up preparation to reduce injury chances is vital – even more so when you haven’t exercised for a while.
Before exercise, perform joint movements and mobility exercises you feel you need to loosen your joints and muscle activation exercises similar to the exercises that are going to be done in the session this helps to get the body ready for the task it will do. Increase your heart rate slightly to prepare the CV system for its workload ahead and returning to the gym.
Try adding light cardiorespiratory workouts once you have begun to start your new routine. A brisk 20-minute outdoor walk will help to relax your mind and get your body moving again – it’s a great recovery tool – plus it’s free and easy to do. Running, swimming, cycling and stretching are also great low impact variations to help you recover. Low-level recovery cardio helps you restore your resting heart rate to base level in the days following a hard workout – ensuring you are in optimal condition for the next session after returning to the gym.
Spending time away from exercise makes you naturally weaker due to sedentary habits – with lack of resistive force going through your muscles and tendons you will see a loss of strength, muscle mass and even increased pain. Strength training helps to increase bone density, muscle mass and maintains healthy joints.
Examples of resistance/strength training include use of a TRX trainer, bodyweight squats, lunges and press-ups and exercises involving weight lifting. Over time you can incorporate weights to your routine and further develop your strength levels.
Get a Trainer
If you are unsure of how to structure/perform your exercise, you could enlist the help of a personal. If you just need some encouragement to get back into training, then a PT can be effective as it improves effort levels and accountability.
Personal trainers at Future Fitness can advise you on exercise planning, technique and even nutrition when returning to the gym. There are many options for group training, 1 on 1 sessions’ and even online personal trainers who can coach you remotely via apps and email.
Begin slowly, aim for progressive overload, increase activity levels over 8 weeks and rest when you need to! You will soon see your fitness return and you will be the best version of yourself to date!