Back to the Gym: How to Stay Safe as You Get in Shape

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With UK gyms closed during the coronavirus outbreak, many people shifted their workouts to the living room, enjoyed sweat sessions at the local park, or simply took an extended rest period.

If this sounds like you then you might be worried about a return to the weights room, treadmill and cross-trainer, to name just a few pieces of equipment. How will the break have affected your fitness levels, and what exactly should you do to resume strength training to avoid injury?

Emily Outterside of F45.

We caught up with Emily Outterside, trainer at F45 Peckham Rye, who shared her expert advice on steps to take to keep you safe and ensure you continue to have fun with your fitness.

Ease Back In Slowly

Many people will have been doing bodyweight workouts at home and/or running, but this doesn’t mean your lockdown fitness translates into the gym. Take it steady and go lower when lifting weights than you used to before lockdown. You will regain your strength faster this way rather than expecting too much of yourself too quickly and creating injuries. Progressing your weights slowly, week by week, is the most effective way to achieve results safely, no one enjoys going so heavy day one that you can’t climb stairs without agonising pain for a week!

Stretching is Key

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Stretching and recovery should always be very high on your priority list when working out, as well as an adequate cool down after a session. Flexibility is key to moving safely and with ease, and even one yoga class a week will provide great benefits to your posture, too. These habits will decrease chances of injury and improve your recovery so you can get straight back into it a day or two later.

Focus on Form

After taking a break from exercise, your technique is bound to be a little bit rusty, but quality of reps is better than quantity, so start slow and concentrate on your movement as well as breathing technique. If you’re not sure how to perform something correctly, ask for some guidance from a PT or coach in your local gym – they will be happy to help you out.

Rest Days

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I am sure the temptation is often to go back to gym workouts as many times as possible within a week. However, rest days do not mean you are slacking or not working hard enough. It means you are giving your body time to recover and therefore increase subsequent performance when in the gym.

Your muscles physically need the down time and the days off to repair and grow. The rest will reduce muscle fatigue and keep your motivation 100%. Treat your rest day as active recovery rather than a sofa Netflix marathon, so either a nice long walk, a light outdoor sport, or a yoga class will do the trick.

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Felicity Donohoe