Let's face it, we've all lost our training mojo over the past few months (unless you have everything you need at home). Clothes are a bit tighter, energy is lower and that plank time you used to do seems a million miles away. But fear not! With a little planning, thinking and doing, you can and will get back to your pre-lockdown shape or better yet, improve even more! Follow my top tips to make sure you stay injury free and on track for a great comeback:
Plan it out
Do you think Usain Bolt, Serena Williams or Cristiano Ronaldo just turn up to their training sessions and perform what they want or can remember? If you guessed no, you’re correct. They have a meticulous plan in order to make sure they don’t overtrain, use adequate rest periods and target the areas of their body they need to work on. This isn’t done on a hunch, instead a plan is drawn up by their coach and followed to the letter. I’m not saying you should be as strict and regimented as world class athletes, but take an element of their approach and plan your exercise. This could look something like starting with a 1k row in weeks 1 and 2 before increasing to a 1.5k row for example.
Leave the ego at home
I can already picture the guys (yes mostly guys), walking up to the dumbbell rack and thinking, “yep I used to lift that weight, so I’ll be able to now”. However their body isn’t in the same physical position as it was due to the extended period of not training, or home training, unless they have continued with a similar regime at home. Instead, let’s say you used to bench press 30kg dumbbells or do 4 sets of 10. Drop these numbers to 22kg dumbbells for 3 sets of 12 instead. See how the body responds and go from there, which brings me onto my next tip.
DOMS isn’t a badge of honour
If your main aim from a workout is to ‘feel it’ then you’re training for the wrong reasons. DOMS stands for the ‘Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness’. This occurs when a muscle has been trained to fatigue and tiny microscopic damage to the fibres take place resulting in muscle stiffness. You can experience DOMS for a period of 24-48 hours after exercise, but this shouldn’t be your goal from a session. Some people believe that if you don’t have DOMS after your session that you didn’t work hard enough. This simply isn’t true. In fact, one of the biggest jobs the strength and conditioning coaches have at sports clubs is to ensure their athletes don’t experience it as their performance will suffer as a result.
Listen to your body
Our bodies are incredible machines and will actually tell you when something is wrong by sending signals via pain receivers to your brain and encourage you to stop the thing causing pain. If you ignore these, your body will suffer. Knee pain from squatting? Stop squatting and seek advice. It’s so simple, yet I hear it all too often that a client felt a ‘niggle’ for a while which then turned into having a ‘bad knee’ or worse, requiring surgery. I am all for working hard and pushing yourself, but there is a line that should not be crossed to the detriment of your body.
Remember that our bodies are incredible machines that can perform weird and wonderful things, so enjoy the process of moving! Don't get too caught up with reps, sets, weight, distance, speed as this can sometimes spoil the fun. Your health and fitness is a journey, not a chore to just 'get through'.