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Home / Brunch / Fit and fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: Going back to the gym

Fit and fine by Kamal Singh CSCS: Going back to the gym

When you hit the gym now, start as a beginner.

brunch Updated: Aug 09, 2020 11:41 IST
Kamal Singh
Kamal Singh
Hindustan Times
The weights will feel heavy, the exercises awkward, the body will refuse to easily move into positions during the first week at the gym
The weights will feel heavy, the exercises awkward, the body will refuse to easily move into positions during the first week at the gym(Shutterstock)

As we head into Unlock #3, gyms are being opened. Gym-goers, are just dying to get back at it. Won’t it be great to get back into a gym and lift heavy stuff, to push and strain against a loaded bar, to hear your heart beat in your ear after a hard set of heavy squats! I understand all these emotions and feelings but what should the strategy be as the gyms open – go back to the same intensity, or do we ease up on the throttle?

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Our minds and egos remember what we could do in the gym just four months ago. The amount we could lift, the pace we could go through the workout, the large number of exercises we could do in a single session. Then come back and repeat it all over again in the next workout. This bruising intensity left all of us not wiped out but pleasantly tired. We could recover from these sessions and thus make progress. I know too many people who never really took more than a week off in a whole year.

So believe me, most of us are going to get an unpleasant shock in the first week back in the gym. The weights will feel heavy, the exercises awkward, the body will refuse to easily move into positions. I know, I know, everybody has done dozens of push-ups, scores of squats and lunges but unless you are some kind of mutant, four months is long, long time away from externally loaded exercise.

One must think of themselves as a beginner and pick up a basic full-body programme
One must think of themselves as a beginner and pick up a basic full-body programme

Aside from the enthusiasm and excitement of being back in the gym, your ego also gets in the way. Somebody who has been lifting quite a bit of weight, has to deal with not loading the bar with similar amount the minute he/she steps back in! If you do that, then get ready to be surprised at the loss of strength and fitness. If you persist, then getting injured is a real possibility. Thus, let us all take an oath to be smart so that we can recover our strength and fitness while we remain injury free.

Please remember that muscle memory is for real. Regaining strength and muscle mass is lot easier and faster than gaining it in the first place. In fact, this enforced rest will help you not only regain the strength and muscle back, you could actually beat all your earlier personal records if you went about it logically.

Slow and steady…

For the next month or two, I would recommend that you follow these steps so that returning back to the gym is free of aches and pains:

•Adopt a full-body training programme. Leave all the body part split programs for later. Think of yourself as a beginner and pick up a basic full-body programme.

Leave the bicep and forearm exercise with the pinky up or pinky down for three months
Leave the bicep and forearm exercise with the pinky up or pinky down for three months

•Focus on the big, compound exercises – squats, deadlifts, bench presses, pull ups, rows. Leave the bicep and forearm exercises with the pinky up or pinky down for three months from now.

•If you have not run on a treadmill, go easy on upping the incline on it. Sudden, too much incline can wreck calves and the Achilles tendon.

•Use this time to work on your technique. Take videos of your exercises, get them critiqued by a knowledgeable trainer. Now is the time to iron out all the kinks in your technique.

Being sore is fine but pain from aggravating an old injury is not
Being sore is fine but pain from aggravating an old injury is not

•Keep the sets to 3 per exercise. Volume and intensity should be about 50 per cent to 60 per cent of what you used to do.

•You will be sore the next day but know the difference between being sore and in pain. Being sore is fine but pain from aggravating an old injury is not!

Now go out and have fun. Let me know if you have any queries on how to set up your training programme.

From HT Brunch, August 9, 2020

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