Returning to the gym after the Covid19 lock down…
I have been flooded with messages from clients and friends about the lock down. I try to help out as much as i can with home workout plans and other tips. Many have just completely “fallen off the wagon” for a long period of time during this long shutdown period. Heck, even i had a hard time with this long lay off from the gym. I really didn’t think the lock down would last for this long.
Currently I live in Toronto Canada… As I write this (July 31, 2020), we enter ‘phase 3′ of the GTA rejoin reopening strategy. This basically means gyms are allowed to open and accept patrons again. THANK YOU LORD! I have been away from the gym since early March of 2020, for a total of close to 5 months off the “#GymLife”. The gym is a top priority in my life and needless to say, this lock down caused me a fair bit of stress. In all honesty I can’t even remember a time where I have been away from the gym even close to that period of time. To my best recollection, its been 10+ years since I took more than 2 days off and that includes vacations. I have always managed to find a gym wherever I went. Ill admit, I have lost my shit once or twice :-p
I consider anything over three months a lengthy layoff from the gym. Anyone who has competed in a high level athletic or bodybuilding competition knows that the “gains” don’t immediately go away after a meet / show. In fact, the rest and re-feedings can benefit you after a period of overreaching in your training. After all, you can only train at a high level before a pullback phase is needed. But after three whole months of straying from your diet and training plan, your metabolism will slow down significantly. Your hard earned muscles start to atrophy and you start to look like you don’t even lift at all. Meal prep / gym routines take time and repetition to learn and become ingrained into an individual. If you completely stop for a long layoff period, it can be very difficult / stressful to get motivated and readjust your daily schedule / routine. Not to mention the lack of energy and sluggish feeling that comes with not training at all. Luckily for me I never actually STOPPED training and dieting completely. I did manage to keep my cardio and workout schedule, even if they were cut back significantly in both volume and intensity. I did discover that adding a simple stimulant, like a 200 mg caffeine pill (any brand will do) or a couple espressos will do the job to get me motivated. Additionally, this also has the added benefit of increasing my metabolism right before a workout. To keep things simple, I tend to prefer the caffeine pills because you don’t have to sit and drink it. Also, It allows me to control the dose more effectively with no guess work and its cheap. A lot of my friends and clients opt for a pre-workout supplement, which is fine too. It’s important to be able to generate some form of ‘intensity’ for your home workouts, so you can keep your hard earned gains during a prolonged layoff.
The most challenging thing about being locked down, at least for me was the diet. Your diet is your ‘insurance policy’ for your physique. If you are not going the gym, at least you can adhere to your diet plan as closely as possible. This will allow you to ‘hit the ground running’ once you actually do get back into the gym. If you put on a pile of weight / fat, it is going to be harder to move around in general and you will be huge disadvantage in terms of progress in the gym. In the beginning of lock down the news kept stating that the lock down would only last 2 weeks… So I figured, “what the hell…” a treat here and there won’t kill me. After about 3 or 4 weeks into that strategy, reality set in and I had to check myself. I got back on point and was able to quickly lose the extra few pounds I gained from the extra treats. I also incorporated some tweaks. I added apple cider vinegar and green tea extract into my daily routine, which helped suppress appetite and further increase my metabolism. Cuz hey… Every little advantage helps.
Appetite Suppression / Fat Mobilizers:
5 FREAKING months and the day has finally come. #FlexFriday and even though i finally feel like i have something to flex about. No more home workouts for me, I’m in a full-fledged gym again. I am tempted to just go right back to what I was doing before the lock down and start banging out some heavy sets.
But… I have consider reality, I’m a 40 year old kid ! I don’t bounce back from injuries like I used to. I better play it safe and start up “the machine” slowly. Today I opted for a low volume total body workout strategy. First, I will use machines with high rep work and light to moderate weight. This allows me to isolate and go through all my body parts and assess the damage / weak points from the prolonged layoff. After a decent full body pump up, I will test the more complex motor patters exercises of the squat, dead lift, flat bench press. I made sure to use light weight (50% or less) just to reinforce these motor patters in preparation for my heaver lift ramp up in a week or two. It feels good to be back… I didn’t think I would miss the gym this much. It seems to play a huge role in my mental health that I didn’t even realize until it was gone. Ill post up my lift progression in the coming weeks… see how long it take me to get back to where I was and back on the road to progress.
What was you first day back at the gym like ?.. How tough was it for you during lock down ? Feel free to comment here or head over to the TeamTNA forum to post a new threa, or comment down below.