OMG!! 1 more sleep till the gyms open in Scotland! Excited?
Getting back to training.
While I won’t be in the gym on Monday, I spend most of Monday with Katie while Z works, I will be in there on Tuesday after my client sessions and I can’t wait! My biggest challenges will be:
- Following my own advice and staying well within my ability as I re-adapt to gym work, and
- after 6 months of not lifting, my hands have gotten amazingly soft and uncalloused despite the KB work I’ve done.
Speaking of my advice for returning to the gym, here it is.
Start lighter than you think you should. After 6 months of not lifting heavy (unless you are lucky enough to have an awesome home gym) you are weaker than you were. You are also out of practice of lifting heavy and therefore you want to work on technique and minimising pain.
On the subject of pain, it’s going to happen. Your body isn’t used to the stimulus and we know the primary cause of DOMS is new stimulus, either from sudden jumps in volume or novel movements. You’re going to be applying both. The good news is that the repeated bout effect will kick in within a couple of weeks and you can start to push things again. But until then, work up to loads that allow you to leave 2-3 reps in the tank on each movement. You’ll still be sore, but it’ll be a lot more manageable.
Focus on the compound lifts and what you can do best in the gym. That probably isn’t spending 30 minutes on the treadmill. Or doing 5 variations of biceps curls. Or 20 minutes of abs. Focus on the compound lifts, deadlift, squat and press variations, cable work, and some isolation machines to work on specific areas. Most gyms seem to be setting an hour limit on your sessions, so use it wisely.
Monitor your recovery and adjust as needed. You’ll only make progress if you can recover between sessions. So pay attention to your ability to recover, and make sure you are fuelling yourself with enough protein and carbs to allow this to happen. Make sure you get adequate sleep, and adjust your training volume to allow for better recovery if you need to.
Finally, progress slowly. This isn’t a short term game, at least, it shouldn’t be. So take your time, work on re-grooving your technique and progress gradually, following the point above. You’ve had 6 months off, doing relatively light work and it’ll take some time to get back up to speed. But don’t worry, it’ll take a lot less time to get back to where you were than it took to get there in the first place. Play the long game.
Lifespan vs health span.
I’m listening to a fantastic book called Lifespan – Why we age and why we don’t have to, by Dr David A Sinclair, all about the science of aging, and the reclassification of aging as a disease and what we can do about it. It’s fascinating, and one of the things that stuck in my head was, what is the point of living longer if you don’t have the physical tools to make use of the time? Obviously, you would want to be mentally and cognitively sharp too, and the argument is that by treating age as a disease and treating the cause of that, the age related issues such as Alzheimers etc would be less of an issue.
But what about physically? One of the points the author makes, almost off-hand, is that we should treat exercise as we do brushing our teeth – it should be done daily. Exercise should be about the long view of maintaining our physical tools as long as we possibly can in order to improve our quality of life as long as possible.
Don’t get me wrong, relatively short term goals like a rippling 6 pack, or big strong glutes are great. But longer-term goals of maintaining as much muscle mass as you can, being physically independent into your old age, and not falling down and breaking your hip at the first sign of a strong wind, is probably a bigger deal.
The good news with training is that it’s never too late to start. Research continually shows improvements in muscle cross sectional area in older adults, regardless of when they start into resistance training. And from my own experiences of working with several clients over the age of 75, improvements in strength and, more importantly, power tend to come fairly quickly and make a big difference in the activities they can do.
So keep training, and again, play the long game.
Free training plan
To help you with the return to the gym, I built a training template to get you back up to speed in 4 weeks. As I said above, you won’t be back at pre-lockdown strength levels, but you will make big progress on the plan, minimise DOMS and make good use of the time you have in the gym, whenever you choose to get back there.
The template is customisable to allow you to choose your preferred exercise for any section, and the progressions are explained in there. If you have any questions, just email me back or post the Q in my Facebook group and I’ll answer either as quickly as I can.
Have an awesome day,