With a lot of gyms, restaurants and general places opening back up again, come a lot of people that haven’t been in that situation for a long time. We hear this from people in our CrossFit gym on a daily basis. Even the ones who have consistently done home workouts or gone for daily runs, complain about the difference in intensity and general difficulty of workouts. With this being a health, fitness and nutrition focused blog, we’re going to cover some tips for anyone stepping back into a gym for the first time in a while. Not only are workouts in the gym different from the ones at home but the muscle soreness will be more intense too. Whenever your body gets a new stimulus, you can bet on your body feeling quite sore the next couple of days. The longer you get used to a stimulus the more your body adjusts to that and the soreness will slowly subside.
Stepping back into the gym and blindly crushing your body in the first couple workouts is a good way to crush your motivation, body and overall progress. What should you do instead?
Don’t kill yourself in the first workout
As I just discussed, killing yourself in your first workout is a good way of taking the fun out of your workouts right away. On the other side of this is taking it too easy on yourself, you will have to find the dichotomy between the two. For the first 2 weeks (maybe longer), it’s all about re-finding your fitness level and establishing a new base-line. You’re not where you were a year ago, be aware of that. Some people will find that hard to accept and that is okay, but eventually you will have to accept that since it is the hard truth. Accepting that doesn’t mean you can’t work your butt of to get back to your ”old self”, but rather acknowledging where you’re now.
Don’t take it too easy on yourself
On the other side of going too hard is taking it too easy on yourself. I always put it this way; taking it easy simply means not doing what you’re capable of doing. In turn, if you don’t do what you’re capable off, there won’t be any progress.
As we all know, progress is the main driving/ motivational push a lot us need to stay committed to working out. Make sure you start progressing as soon as you walk back into the gym. Be smart, don’t kill yourself, but do what you’re capable off.
Focus on your nutrition and rest
These 2 aspects of our fitness always need to be at for-front but especially now when you’re stepping back into the gym after a lay-off. Proper nutrition and rest will help you get through those first couple of weeks a lot better.
Nutrition will make sure your muscles have the right nutrients to recover and the right energy to go into the next workout.
Rest will allow your muscles to recover as much as possible before hitting the next session. This can be done by sleeping more, using an ice-bath or sauna, massages, stretching, yoga, mobility, foam-rolling etc.
Make these 2 things your main priority and they will take care of you down the road. You might not notice the difference if you start doing it, but you will notice the huge difference when you stop making it a priority.
Don’t let muscle soreness scare you
Muscle soreness is part of the gig. If you never get sore, you’re more than likely not giving your body the new stimulus it needs to grow and improve. Muscle soreness isn’t a bad thing and shouldn’t be looked at in such a way.
A lot of us think we’re in dire need of rest whenever our body feels sore, but you don’t necessarily. Yes, muscle soreness indicates that your body is still recovering and growing and getting better but why does that mean you can’t work out again? Two examples; if your legs are sore from a high volume of leg work yesterday, what stops you from doing more upper body focused work today? Example 2, if you’re mildly sore everywhere, why can you not hit every body part evenly or do an active recovery session, like going for a hike or easy 5k run?
You’re going to get better, be patient
I totally understand that it gets frustrating when you start working out after a while. I have been there for the past 4 summers.
I used to work at this summer camp and let’s just say, working out wasn’t a priority. I got my fitness in any way I could, I swam in our lake, I lifted weights in the make-shift gym and I ran 5-8K. It wasn’t the same volume, intensity or the same frequency. Whenever I would get back to the gym, I was looking forward to getting back in there and slinging weights around, but I understood it would take me a couple of weeks to adjust to the old intensity and volume. I would be extremely sore for about 2 weeks, I would feel like shit almost every single day because of the intensity, but at the end of all that, it gets better.
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