Back to fitness — our top five tips

Our Falmer Sports Complex fitness rooms are now open so you can get back to training, but it’s important to do it safely. Check out these top tips from our Duty Manager Ben Ospalak.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Exciting times, nervous times, strange times. But, nonetheless, the time has come and we are getting back into the gym - and back to fitness.

This might sound obvious, but you will likely be slightly slower and not as strong as you were in your pre-pandemic days. Unless you’ve managed to keep training normally during this past year or so, it’s only natural that you will have taken a step back.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It will have allowed your body to recover from any niggling injuries you may have had, and hopefully it has reminded you how much you enjoy training and keeping fit.

And crucially, it will now be easier to make tangible progress before you hit that dreaded strength; speed; fitness; weight plateau.

Return safely — take it sensibly and don’t rush.

So what can you expect after experiencing this setback to your previous fitness levels? Well, most importantly you want to return safely to your training and gym routines.

The former ‘healthier you’ will return soon enough, so there’s no need to be nervous: you should be excited, buzzing and looking forward to the journey ahead. The journey is yours, and you can take whichever route you decide to aim for those short, medium and long term goals once more.

To reach your goals, take on this one bit of guidance: take it sensibly - do not rush!

Your body will need your help to achieve success.

Returning to fitness, my top five tips:

1. Start at 60.

Whatever numbers you are used to training at, reduce them down to 60%. Over the course of the first four weeks back, you can then increase by up to 10% before testing your limits. For example if you are used to squatting 50kg for 10 reps, start at 30kg for 10 reps and increase up to 35kg by week two and so on. Or, if you are used to running 5km in 20 mins, then start your first run paced to finish in 28 mins and then by week two aim for 26 mins etc.

2. Allow yourself recovery days.

If you used to train daily, then start with a recovery day in between each training day. This can be a day of rest or a lighter training day incorporating something like swimming, walking, flexibility or yoga. Your body will need recovery as it is reminded and retrained into repairing itself after your workout days.

3. Look after your body.

Your body will need to adjust to its new training routine again, so look after your body to optimise your training and recovery. You can do this by staying hydrated, stretching in your free time, eating balanced meals including proteins, sleeping well, and meditation if this works for you.

4. Be careful with explosive exercises.

There are many types of training techniques that cause the body to use full force, such as sprinting or plyometric movements. These are very effective training techniques and can really help to achieve specific goals, but be cautious about starting them in your first few weeks of getting back to training. Once you’ve had a few weeks back, you can safely ease them into your training routines again.

5. Listen to your body.

If you start to feel any pain or discomfort while you do a specific exercise then stop! Your body is trying to tell you it is not ready. Yes you will have aches and pains in your muscles after working out and this is normal. But there is a difference between a post-workout ache and pain or discomfort caused by something being wrong. It may be that your body is simply not ready yet, or it could be bad form. Whatever the case, stop and rest — and if needed, get it checked.

Finally, enjoy the feel good!

You will love getting back to fitness, and you will see and feel the benefits of working out and becoming healthier.

Creating your new fitness routines and sticking to them can create such a good feeling — especially at the beginning, when the results and improvements happen quickly.

If you’d like to join us for some instructor-led sessions, I am running Outdoor Fitness sessions on campus at our Falmer Sports Complex every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. Open to members and non-members — just give us a call to book your place now!

And you can visit our Fitness Rooms and talk to our team too, who will be happy to help you get settled back in to the gym.

Stay safe and enjoy your return!