The Best Ways To Get Back to the Gym after lockdown to avoid injuring yourself

Getting back to the gym post lockdown: things to keep in mind

With the news that gyms are going to re-open, I bet there are a whole bunch of avid gym-goers who are raring to get back into the swing of things, myself included.

So, what are some things that you should keep in mind when making your comeback?

The deconditioning that your body has undergone

When you go back to the gym and find that you can’t lift as heavy as you usually did or that you find it difficult to complete a workout at the same intensity, just remember that this is normal. The good news is that it your strength and fitness will return thanks to “muscle memory”.

How your body has changed on a physiological level

The body is made of tissue and all tissue have a capacity or load that they can handle before being susceptible to pain or injury. When going to the gym, you are inflicting micro-trauma to tissue so the body rebuilds this tissue bigger and stronger to withstand the gym sessions you put yourself through. However, the body is an efficient machine, so during time of inactivity the body will no longer support the bigger and stronger tissue and it will return to its original ‘non-trained’ state. So, what does this mean for you? It means that if you go back to the gym lifting/training at your previous high intensity your risk for pain and injury is greatly increased.

How can we mitigate this risk when making a return to the gym?

Smart programming. A smart and well thought gym program which takes into consideration exposure to movement and progressive overload will allow you to return and train safely reducing your risk of injury and pain.

So let’s delve a bit deeper into what I was just referring to above.

Exposure to movement is exactly as it says, exposing the body to movement. But specifically, it is exposing the body to movement that it hasn’t performed regularly over the past few months of lockdown. For example, if you are a person who squats ‘ass to grass’ maybe avoid that for a few weeks and only squat to parallel while week by week increasing depth. This takes into account the second concept, progressive overload. Progressive overload is increasing parameters whether it be range of motion, volume or weight of a lift over time.

Using these two rules while also listening to your body for any niggles or pains will prove to be invaluable when making your return to the gym.

Train around pain or avoid training into pain.

A lot of gym-goers are quite stubborn and continue to train through or into pain. This is an early warning sign that your body needs a break and if you continue beating it up, something will eventually give and you will suffer an injury. What is training around pain or avoiding training into pain?

Training around pain, is smart training. It means we may still be able to target the same body part but with a different exercise or different technique to perform the same exercise. A really easy example may be that dumbbell chest pressing hurts your shoulder, but when using a barbell on a bench press it does not. At the end of the day, they are both training primarily the chest but one causes you issues and the other does not. Which do you go for then?

The second thing I want to touch on is avoid training into pain. There are a few ways we can do this. Let’s use a squat for simplicity. For example, if you find that your 100kg squat causes you pain on the 8th repetition, how can we avoid training into pain?

We can:

  • Reduce range of motion of the squat
  • Reduce the weight of the squat
  • Reduce the volume (sets and reps) of the squat

By playing around with these three parameters you will be able to perform the exercise to still receive benefit and then implement the previously spoken concept of progressive overload to get your body squatting just as you were before!

Previous article Next article

20 min assessment

Book now


In pain? We are here to help.