Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
I’M writing this just after the announcement that hopefully gyms will reopen on June 7. It’ll be a little while before you get to read this but it won’t be too late for this content to still be applicable. So let’s talk about how to get ready for returning to the gym and what to do or not do once you’re there.
Walking is great! It’s fantastic, low impact exercise that can be used to relax, socialise and burn a few extra calories. However, it is not, unfortunately, a substitute for a full range of motion, load bearing, lower body exercises like squats and lunges and it definitely isn’t a substitute for any kind of upper body training.
If all you’ve been doing is walking then when you return to the gym and start training your body with weights again you’re probably going to be very sore for a week or two. It would be nice to not have to take a week off from the gym because you’re so sore after one workout, right? Especially when the gym is only just open again! So what can we do to make the transition less sore?
‘Going straight from zero to one hundred could be dangerous’
Think about where you are right now, just walking, as zero (I don’t mean any offence, it’s just for this example) and where you want to be, training with weights in the gym, as one hundred. Going straight from zero to one hundred could be dangerous. In between only walking and doing squats and lunges with weights in the gym is doing squats and lunges with just your bodyweight. And you don’t need the gym to do that. I know that most people are sick of home workouts by now but just a few bodyweight exercises every couple of days between now and when the gyms reopen could mean being a whole lot less sore when the time comes.
Let’s keep this really simple. Day one, perform 30 squats, 30 push ups (on an elevated surface like a bench, sofa or bed if needs be) and 30 single arm rows each side. These are very common exercises, if you look them up on google or youtube you’ll find loads of tutorials so I won’t go into how to do them here. Break up the 30 repetitions any way you like (3×10, 2×15, 5×6, it’s up to you), do them slowly and as well as you possibly can.
Then wait two days. See how sore they make you. If they make you sore then wait until you’re recovered some and do them again. If they don’t make you sore on day two do them again but make them harder by holding something heavier, using a lower elevated surface, or by breaking them up into less sets of more reps.
Once these don’t make you sore you could add more exercises in (but still keep it really simple). I would recommend lunges (30 total to begin with, 30 each leg once they’re not making you too sore), shoulder presses (anything can be a weight) and maybe even some deadlifts.
It doesn’t have to be hugely complicated and shouldn’t take you much more than 30 minutes three to four days a week but if you can get over that initial soreness before the gyms open it’ll mean you can make better use of the gym once it does open.
Note: this doesn’t mean you won’t get sore at all from the gym, just hopefully less so!
There will be people who try to go straight back to the same weights they were lifting five months ago to see if they’ve lost strength. This will be dangerous. Please don’t do this. Don’t get injured the first week the gyms are reopened. Start light and sensible and work up slowly. You’ll be back to where you were before you know it, don’t rush. A runner who hasn’t run in five months doesn’t test their marathon time the first week back running. Train smart.