How to prep your body for easing back to the gym

If you’ve taken an extended break from workouts, your fitness levels may be a little worse for wear. Here’s how to get back to the gym safely.

If you had to forgo gym visits during coronavirus lockdowns, you may notice your body isn’t as fit and strong as it was before iso.

Cutting back on normal exercise activity can quickly decondition the body, says exercise physiologist Esme Soan.

But it’s not all bad news – “muscle memory” can help you quickly get your strength and fitness back on track, she says.

So what do you need to know before you hit the gym after an extended break?

You will need to pull it back

“Whatever you were doing prior to lockdowns, reduce that to about 60 to 70 per cent. Drop weights or drop your volume in your programming,” says Esme, of Pear Exercise Physiology.

Make warming up and cooling down a priority

Warm-ups are vital when starting out or returning to exercise after any hiatus, says Esme.

“We’ve all been in weird working-from-home seating arrangements so look at including more of a warm-up in programming,” she says.

“Do a longer warm-up on treadmills or more stretching before weights.”

It’s equally as important not to skip cool downs and stretching.

Give yourself time to get into the groove

Esme says while some kept up exercise regimes through isolation, it will still take time to readjust to the gym.

“Not many of us have fully equipped gyms at home. It’s a different modality of exercise at the gym, so it will take some getting used to again,” she says.

Your body will need nourishment

“Flick the fads, don’t worry about cutting food groups now or the number on the scale, but nourish yourself,” says dietitian Nicole Dynan, of The Good Nutrition Co.

Pre exercise, Nicole says carbs are key and possibly a snack like a piece of fruit if there’s a big gap between your meal and when you can work out.

Post exercise, she says carbs as well as protein are vital to nourish the body.

Before you get started …

Esme says checking in with a health professional like an exercise physiologist is a wise first step.

“We can show people how to place or reduce stresses on the body to help us condition the body for exercise,” says Esme.

Written by Sally Heppleston