After a year cooped up indoors, the end is finally in sight! As the nation approaches step 2 of the lockdown roadmap, fitness enthusiasts are looking forward to gyms reopening from 12th April. Alongside gyms opening, indoor pools and other indoor exercises facilities such as sports halls will also be permitted to open.
For many of us, exercises during lockdown are no comparison to our previous gym routines. Our lockdown exercises have been substantially limited due to lack of space and, if we’re honest, non-existent motivation. However, with life poised to return to normal, it’s about time we all turn our lockdown workouts into efficient gym routines to get our summer bodies ready for re-entering the world.
Here are our best tips for your return to the gym, along with some simple exercises routines to get you going.
How to start exercising again
Knowing how to work out again after an injury is one thing but knowing how to start the gym again after a long break is a completely different ballgame. With a year spent indoors in the comfort of our own homes, having the self-discipline and self-motivation to leave the house to exercise can be difficult.
Re-energising your fitness regime needn’t feel overwhelming. There are simple things you can do to help yourself feel comfortable with training your body again, both physically and emotionally:
1. Don’t be hard on yourself
Lots of us have seen changes in our bodies during lockdown and may be cursing all those takeaways we had for weekend entertainment. If you’re not as fit as you used to be, don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that many people are in the same boat and a gym is a place where we can all get better together!
2. Start prepping physically
Do some workouts at home, at your own pace. From dance classes to aerobic routines, there are plenty of tutorials on platforms such as YouTube to help you get started. Reintroduce your body to exercise and learn your new limits so that you don’t end up overdoing it your first time in the gym.
3. Prepare yourself mentally
Entering the world after such a long period of isolation can be scary! Emotionally prepare yourself to be around other people again and reduce any covid-related anxiety. Only do what you feel comfortable with and do not be afraid to ask other gym-goers to give you the space you need to feel safe.
4. Do what you missed most
To kickstart your fitness regime again, begin with the exercises you missed most during lockdown. Whether jogging on the treadmill inspire you or you want to make the most of the rowing machine, spend the first ten minutes of your gym time doing what you love the most so that you feel good about being there.
5. Take it slow
Reduce your rep counts and lower your lifts whilst you’re re-introducing yourself to a workout routine to allow your muscles to become accustomed to the movements again. Participate in simple routines that are easy to complete to re-establish your confidence and try not to wear yourself out too quickly, as this may affect your long-term motivation.
Light weight training and easy exercises
The key to successfully returning to the gym after an extended break is to take it slow and steady through easy workouts and light exercises. Rather than committing to your previous 100 sit-up routine, start with easy ab workouts and simple exercises to allow yourself to become accustomed to moving again.
By allowing your body to adjust to increased movement and setting realistic goals, you will be more likely to maintain your fitness regime in the long term.
Here are some simple exercises routines for the most common issues coming out of lockdown:
Low impact workouts
Between spending a lot more time on the sofa and hunching over the kitchen table during home school, our joints and muscles have been neglected throughout lockdown. Many people may be experiencing sore knees and hips as well as lower back pain caused by poor ergonomics at home.
Not having proper ergonomics when working from home causes joint and ligament issues, which can make energetic exercises painful. However, allowing this to stop you from exercising becomes a vicious cycle, as strengthening your joints and muscles through exercises helps to reduce pain.
Low impact workouts ensure that your joints, ligaments, and muscles are protected from vigorous jolts and blows. Essentially, low impact cardio routines eliminate jumping and provide support to pressure points to minimise pain.
Low impact exercises include:
- Swimming – the king of joint-friendly workouts, water improves buoyancy and support your body
- Rowing – hop on the rowing machine for low impact cardio and strength training
- Bike riding – using the cycle machine is a non-weight bearing exercise that burns through tonnes of calories
Low impact routine
For your first session back at the gym, follow this routine:
- 3 x 15 skaters
- 3 x 15 standing oblique crunch
- 3 x 15 lateral shuffle
If you want to push yourself a little further to really feel the benefits, add in more reps, use resistance bands, or add in time on the rowing and cycling machines.
Gym workouts for weight loss
Remember when we were all baking banana bread? Then we had massive Christmas dinners to get us through the second lockdown! Oh, and we were also making the cheesy pasta from TikTok…
It’s fair to say some of us have piled on the pounds and are now desperate for a weight loss gym plan so that we can look our best for trips to the beer garden this summer. Aside from fat burners and proteins powders as part of a healthy diet, the best way to lose weight is through consistent exercise.
Establishing a gym workout plan for weight loss can help you to reduce fat quickly whilst setting a good foundation to maintain that reduction long term. Increased exercise is the best way to burn calories, allowing you to trim subcutaneous fat and make a noticeable difference to your waistline.
Gym workouts for weight loss include:
- HIIT – High-intensity interval training quickly raises your heart rate to burn calories
- Running – Jogging and running are fantastic cardio exercises that drop the pounds
- Skipping – Skipping quickly raises your heart rate and helps to reduce fat
Weight loss routine
To start shifting the pounds the moment you step into the gym, following this routine:
- 10 x 30 seconds fast skipping
- 3 x 15 burpees
- 3 x 10 kettlebell swings
Complete a good combination of cardio and weight exercises to reduce fat and tone muscle. To ramp up the effects, attend a socially distanced HIIT class to raise your heartbeat burn more calories.
Simple lifting routines
There is no denying that the lure of the gym is mainly down to the equipment they have. Most people simply don’t have the room for a press bench or weight rack, meaning our personal bests have taken a particular pounding throughout lockdown.
Creating an easy weightlifting plan can get you back into the routine of gym strength training, allowing you to lift more for longer. Do not start with the heaviest weights you were lifting before lockdown, instead, start with smaller amounts before slowly building your way up to an amount that feels comfortable for your muscles.
The best weightlifting exercises for beginners include:
- Benching – the bench press works the shoulders, arms, and back all at once
- Hex bar deadlifts – deadlifts help to load up your posterior chain and build up muscle mass
- Back squat – not only does this work your back and shoulders, but it also tones your thighs and rear
To gain your strength back, following this routine to safely improve muscle mass:
- 3 x 10 biceps curl
- 3 x 10 dumbbell press
- 3 x 10 barbell back squat
Use the weights you feel most comfortable with, making sure not to lift too much weight on your first time back in the gym. Avoid exercises with weights that require someone else to be close enough to help you in order to ensure social distancing.
The first hurdle for getting back into the gym is stepping in there and being prepared to do your best. Not only do you need to mentally prepare yourself for social interaction for the first time in months, but you also need to come to terms with your new capabilities.
Once you return to regularly working out, you can quickly improve your fitness levels and get back to your personal best. Set yourself realistic goals and do not be afraid of asking for help from gym trainers in regard to setting up a new routine or relearning how to use the equipment. These easy workouts will help you get back into the swing of things, one step at a time.
Do not forget to look after yourself post-workout, both mentally and physically. If you haven’t exercised in a while, you make feel more achy than usual so take post-workout supplements to help your muscles to recover and have a healthy protein snack to restore your energy levels. Also, remember to be mindful of your successes after your exercise session by taking the time to reflect on what you did well and what you would like to improve next time.