And into May we go.
Are you back in the gym yet? How was your first visit? Go straight back to lifting heavy or are you being a little smarter than that?
We tend to have a screwed up sense of timelines with our training and body comp goals and often think that if we go harder it’ll happen quicker. And this is true up to a point, you have to push yourself hard enough to provide the stimulus to actually warrant change, both in your training and dietary approaches. But we love extremes and it’s easy to find ourselves doing crazy stuff that’s unsustainable either because we can no longer recover adequately to maintain the pace or it’s so overly restrictive that we miss out on all the fun stuff we like to do and eat.
From a training perspective, taking your time getting back to heavy lifting is essential after a long lay off. This allows you to ensure technique is good and to work on sharpening it back up. It’ll allow your CNS to gradually get used to the increasing loads without leaving you feeling fried, and it’ll allow you soft tissues to not take a kicking after they’ve been chilling for 4 months.
I assume that most of the folks who read this aren’t looking to step on stage in their underwear or compete in a powerlifting event. But instead, you want to improve your health and fitness levels to be able to whatever you want without physical limitations and improve your nutrition for improved health and body comp outcomes. In that case, one of the most important things you need to realise is that there is no finish line. Therefore there is no need for extreme approaches.
Knowing this (and accepting it) means you can find a more reasonable approach. One that challenges you enough to get the changes you want while still being able to enjoy the occasional doughnut and whatnot.
So if you are just getting back into the gym, enjoy it, go a little easier to let yourself adjust to the weights again (your joints, ligaments, and tendons will appreciate it!), and play the long game.
Here’s a plank demo I did showing how to fixx the common problems I see with the exercise:
Typically, it’s step one the gives most people problems. The inability to push the floor away and maintain it. The big player in this movement is the serratus anterior, which starts on the ribs and wraps around to the inside of the shoulder blade. Weakness here makes it harder to get good movement of the shoulder blade as it helps with moving the shoulder balde in relation to your arm lifting overhead, amongst other things.
If this is an issue for you, try this drill to help improve your serratus strength and function.
And keep pushing the floor away on your planks!