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How to Start Strength Training After a Long (and Unprecedented) Break

Now that restrictions are easing up and gyms are beginning to reopen, we wanted to share with you some tips on how to best start strength training again. 

Although there may be some of you out there that have had access to heavy weights as well as have stuck to solid training programs during the pandemic (major props to you!), we expect that the majority have been fairly sedentary during this period of time. This is totally normal, but it’s important to know how to best make your return to the gym, effectively and injury-free!

 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting to train again: 

 

1) Start Conservatively

Reduce the amount of load and volume (sets and reps) you were doing by 40-50% to allow you to train effectively without getting too sore or fatiguing quickly. Not only will this ensure that you are preventing unnecessary injuries and soreness, but it will also allow for better recovery and progress. Expect for your workouts to feel harder than they did before, but also trust that with the right training and some patience, it won’t take long before you can start to rebuild again! 

 

2) Focus on Technique 

When starting back up, you want to focus on technique as well as reteaching the body how to perform movements. This is done through use of lower weights, fewer repetitions, and slowing down movements. Use this opportunity to work on addressing some of the imbalances that were either created during your hiatus from strength training, or that you knew were present before. 

 

Examples of this could look like:  

 

3) Address Muscle Soreness 

While some muscle soreness is to be expected when returning back to the weight room, it is better to spread your workouts over the entire body, rather than doing splits that only focus on one area. This allows you to train more throughout the week, without creating too much overload and fatigue in any specific region of the body. 

Feeling sore and tired all the time is not actually a good thing, and will only lead to extra stress on your body. It’s often believed that “pushing through it” is going to help see results, but it is in fact the process of recovery and rebuilding that leads to improved results in the weight room. We’d almost like to argue that recovering properly is even more important than training in some respects! 

Of course, recovery includes things such as getting enough sleep, methods such as proper nutrition, or aspects such as mobility and stretching, but it is also important to understand that recovery is more than just the things you do. Recovery is instead a way in which you find your off switch, and get into the right recovery mindset. But, to bring it back again to the point on muscle soreness, just remember that some muscle soreness is okay, but the recovery process is where your body rebuilds muscle tissue, remodels the cardiovascular system, supports energy production, and ultimately helps you to improve. 

 

4) Incorporate Basic Endurance Work

Endurance work and cardio, referring to one’s aerobic capacity, is something that gets asked about often. We addressed this in a previous blog post if you are interested in reading more: https://balancemotion.com/the-truth-about-cardio/. However, we want to emphasize that basic endurance is important especially as it helps you to produce energy more efficiently. 

Low intensity cardio can allow you to be able to recover more efficiently, not only between workouts but also between your sets and reps. It will also help to boost your overall work output without adding much additional stress to your body. If you are not doing longer durations (30 to 90 minutes) of this low intensity cardio, you are missing out on a very important part of your training!

Cardio is something that aids in the recovery process as well as in the building of strength. Incorporating and balancing basic endurance work into your training routine is definitely a key part of building back strength, and should be something to consider doing if you hadn’t done so prior to this break. 

 

5) Be Consistent 

Instead of doing random exercises everyday, it is better to follow a structured program for 2-4 weeks. This will allow you to adapt and progress. With every week, you can also add 10% of your load and/or volume to exercises within the program. 

 

Here is an example of a basic program to start with: 

Phase 1 – 3 weeks

Day 1 – Full body

Day 2 – 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio

Day 3 – Full body

Day 4 – Stretch and rest

Day 5 – Full body

Day 6 – 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio

Day 7 – Off

 

Phase 2 – 4 weeks

Day 1 – Full body

Day 2 – 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio

Day 3 – Full body

Day 4 – High intensity intervals

Day 5 – Full body

Day 6 – 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio

Day 7 – Stretch and rest

 

In addition, we wrote an article a while back on strength training for those at various training levels, but it is especially relevant now. It also features a lot of great exercise and workout ideas: https://balancemotion.com/your-strength-training-blueprint/.

 


 

If you have any questions or want to know more about any of the details featured in this post, please feel free to email Andrea at andrea@balancemotion.com

 

Balance In Motion has recently opened back up for semi-private training. For returning members, click here to schedule a session. For new members, if you would like to book a free assessment with us, click here.

 

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