Getting Back to Normal One Rep at a Time!
It seems that there may be some return to normalcy headed our way in the next few weeks. Businesses of all kinds are slowly starting to open their doors again. And the day that felt like it would never come is finally here. Gyms are starting to reopen 🙌🙌🙌
So it’s time to get back in there and start grinding away again, right? Wellllll not so fast. There’s going to have to be a bit of finesse in trying to get back to our normal routine. As much as my brain would love to jump straight back into my old program, my body has a new set of limitations… Trust me when I say I tried and failed last week….miserably.
Our body is pretty incredible in its ability to adapt to stress and make it seem normal (yes, exercise is considered stress). No matter what kind of training we do, our body goes through all of these amazing physiological changes.
Our brain begins to communicate more efficiently with our muscles, our blood becomes able to carry more oxygen and get rid of waste faster and our heart develops a greater capacity to move that blood. The list can go on but you get the point.
Without that constant stress pushing our body to do these things however, we start to fall back. Now by now means are we starting from square one after just 2 months, but it’s likely that your body has adapted to this new ‘lifestyle’ of lounging around the house.
So what do we do? While physiology will play a big part, I think the most important thing to take into account at the moment is the psychological side of our training.
We have to come to terms with the fact that things have changed. Our mentality going into the gym means everything so understanding that we may fatigue faster or our lifts may be weaker is a must.
We can’t set this unrealistic expectation of coming back to the gym and thinking we can move the same way we did when before we left. This is setting you up for disaster not only because you’ll be disappointed with the result, but you’re more likely to be injured.
It should only take a few weeks for your body to start making those necessary adaptations and getting back in the swing of things. My approach to lifting so far has been to follow a little remix of my usual programming. Where it calls for 70% I might use 60%. Where it says heavy pause squats I might say moderate regular squats.
RPE can be another useful tool here. Stick in the 6-7 RPE range with some moderate volume. If you’re not familiar with RPE, it’s essentially a difficulty scale that rates from 0 to 10. 0 being so absurdly easy you’re bored and 10 being absolute maximal exertion. Hanging out in the 6-7 range will help our bodies adjust physiologically but also keep us from burning out.
The goal is to keep the confidence in the gym high so that we can retrain our brain to associate those positive feelings with working out again.
It may sound pretty corny, but this will go a long way for those of us that might not be feeling the motivation to get back to their usual routine yet and keep us more consistent with our workouts.
The better we feel in the gym, the more likely we are to go back day after day!
The last bit I would focus on is mobility training. With all of this time spent sitting around the house, you may have noticed a little more back pain, maybe some neck stiffness or some tightness in your lower extremities. I would recommend spending a few extra minutes on your mobility and warm-up than you were before this all went down.
And if you’re not doing any warm-up then start...like NOW. Donate a few extra minutes to the foam roller and add a couple of extra reps to your warm-up movements and I promise that pain and stiffness you became friends with during quarantine will disappear a lot faster.
You may have been out of the swing of things for a while now, and it could be tough getting back into it. But be diligent! Set yourself up for a small win each and every time you head into the gym and that routine will come back before you know it.