Gym injuries are a given if you go too hard too fast. Celebrity trainer and fitness guru Matt Roberts reveals five ways we can avoid post-lockdown injury when working out
The gyms are open again, hurrah!
Although we have all been keen to get back into our workout regimes, some people may have thrown themselves in at the deep end after months of inactivity throughout lockdown.
The thing is, you simply cannot pick up where you left off – it’s just not going to ‘workout’ – excuse the pun.
Muscle soreness is a given after a substantial break from exercise, but pulling a muscle, putting too much pressure on your joints or even causing lasting damage to your back or knees, could be caused by lifting too heavy or running too much too soon after a period of prolonged inactivity.
To help ease you back into the gym and avoid injury, Healthista spoke to celebrity fitness guru Matt Roberts, who revealed his five top tips on how to avoid injury when returning to the gym.
#1 Perform a mobility warm up before your gym session
Make sure you’re not diving straight into the heavy workouts – both cardio and weightlifting – without taking the time to mobolise your shoulders, hips, knees and back.
I recommend spending around five minutes warming up before your workout.
You can even use a foam roller to make sure you’ve covered some trigger point work and muscle activation. This will ensure you have a range of motion around those big key joints that we use when working out.
Without this initial range of motion, it’s going to be hard for your body to move in the same way it did before lockdown. So in order to be able to perform squats, lunges, chest pressing and pulling properly to the best of your ability and without injury, be sure to warm up first.
Try this five-minute mobility warm up before your workout:
#2 Increase weight slowly
When I say strengthen, it probably sounds like I mean ‘go and lift some nice big weights and hit your workout really hard’, but that’s not what I mean at all.
What I mean by ‘strengthen’ is build up your strength slowly, for the first couple of weeks I recommend focusing on workouts with a high rep range using lighter weights, making sure you can master repetition within those key joints and muscles that you need in order to get stable and stronger.
Once your joint and muscles become stabilised again, they will be able to cope with the loading and higher weights that you were using before lockdown, without hurting yourself.
Without building up this strength and stability and going back to the same weights as before, you could very easily tear a shoulder muscle, tear a hip muscle or strain your back – then you’ll find yourself in big painful trouble.
So take your time, there is no point in rushing.
#3 Incorporate interval training into your workouts to challenge your VO2
VO2 stands for maximal oxygen uptake, and is an index of the body’s efficiency at producing work.
That means it measures the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise. It’s commonly used to test the aerobic endurance.
Again, like weightlifting challenge your VO2 slowly. Over lockdown, you’ve probably been doing the same routines involving long duration cardio such as going for a cycle, long walk or slow run.
it measures the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise
Now it’s time to start building in some more interval work. To do this why not head over to the treadmill, cross trainer or a rowing machine and aim for short yet intense spells of exercise.
For example sprinting at maximum effort and raising your VO2 for around 20 to 30 seconds, and then rest for a similar or longer period.
Repeat this eight to ten times to give you a slight lift in your heart’s strength again. Go in steadily, not going in for a smash at the start, it’s not HIIT training, it’s starting off with a small amount to build and build and then in a fews weeks time it’s back to more HIIT work in the future.
Over time you can then increase these blasts to 30 to 40 seconds, and this will continue to raise your VO2, heart and lung capacity.
#4 Make sure you are eating enough protein
Having done your workout, it’s imperative that you replenish your body with the nutrients it needs.
Yes you’ve probably been eating and drinking for Britain for the last three or four months, but now it’s about fueling your body to help yourself recover from your workouts.
After you finish your workout you need to make sure that your protein intake in particular is sufficient, and now is also not the time to eat junk food.
it’s best to choose a hemp or a plant-based protein
Within the first half an hour to an hour there is a window in which you need to make sure you are giving yourself a decent amount of protein and additional nutrients to refill and replenish the cells in the body that have been depleted through exercise.
In most cases our diets are rich in carbs, so although important, try not to focus on carbs post-workout and instead focus on your protein intake.
Ideally, it’s best to choose a hemp or a plant-based protein, in order to give yourself all the branched chain amino acids that you need in one complex.
#5 Set a clear goal every month
Set a clear goal every month going forwards.
For example, record where you are now and then determine where you want to be one month from now and what you achieve in that time.
That could be a weight change, a shape change or it could mean getting back to doing a 3k, 5k or 10k run that you were achieving before.
It’s time to get back into a pattern, set a clear goal one month at a time and reassess them at the end of each month.
So, there you have it, five quick simple tips to make sure you are back in the gym successfully and safely. Now that we’re out of lockdown we can all get back into great shape.