With the restrictions placed upon us due to the lockdown I have seen a few issues arising in peoples exercise regimes that might cause them problems. These are conditions we have never been in before and it is easy to make some mistakes in with your fitness regime trying to adapt to your new way of life . So I thought I would write a quick checklist for you to make sure you are able to avoid these mistakes.
Neglecting strength work
With gyms closed and fitness classes cancelled for the foreseeable future, many people have taking to running, walking or cycling to keep themselves fit. As great as these exercises are, they don’t really address our strength needs. If you cease strength training for more than 3 weeks you will start to lose strength and the muscles will start atrophy (waste away). So, to combat this you should aim to do 2-3 strength based workouts per week.
Although for many people the equipment options may be a lot more limited than when going to the gym, there is still plenty of ways you can overload the muscles at home. Doing higher rep work 15-20 reps; changing the tempo of the movements; changing the order of the exercises (maybe pairing two exercises together for the same muscle group); using resistance bands; filling rucksacks with weight all work well. You just need to be a bit more creative.
(We have been working with a couple who are strong hill walkers and skiers, who only have bands, but with some manipulation of their workout they are reporting that their workouts feel very similar to what they do in the gym).
Abandoning your exercise principles
Similar to the point above , I see many people who normally train in a progressive, structured way at the gym now diving head first into crazy HIIT workouts like Insanity or P90X where they are doing jumping squats, jumping lunges, burpees until the cows come home. For many people these workouts can pose a real risk for getting injured. Unless you have built a pretty solid biomechanically sound foundation, I would not recommend these plyometric (bounding) type workouts (also generally speaking plyometric training should not be done in high volume, so spending 30-45 minutes jumping about like this is probably not a great idea).
Mixing up your workout can be very good for you, both physically and mentally, so I am not saying you shouldn’t try something completely different to freshen things. I am just saying perhaps apply a degree of caution to what you do.
Runners – Too Much Too Soon Syndrome
If you know me and the team at Get Results Fitness you will know that we are all keen runners and completely buy into the many, many benefits that regular running brings us, (so if everyone is social distancing themselves appropriately I am delighted to see running taking a further boost in popularity).
However, I do thing that a degree of caution should be applied when someone is starting or getting back into running. The stress that running places on the body is often underestimated by many new runners. Running at the start causes lots of small micro-tears to the muscles and places stress on the bones and joints. This is all very positive if done at the appropriate levels as the body adapts to these stressors by getting stronger. The problems however can arise when people do one or more of these things early in their running journey.
Not enough recovery – if you haven’t run in a while (or ever), 2-3 runs per week is probably enough to give the body enough time to recover between runs
Increase mileage too quickly – Jumping up through the mileage quickly is almost always a sure-fire way to get yourself injured. It is best to just increase each run/week’s mileage by a small amount
Increase intensity and distance at the same time – A beginner should just look to increase one variable per session. So maybe do a shorter faster run with intervals interspersed, then increase the distance in a longer slower run.
Not programming in deloads
I saw this only this morning with one of our clients who now that she is working from home has ramped up her fitness regime a lot. She is doing two weights sessions with us, running three times per and doing some cycling and Pilates. This is week 4 for her of this new regime, last week she was looking super strong in her workouts and was getting through them with ease. Whereas this morning she was struggling by our fourth exercise. This was a clear sign that the accumulative fatigue of the new program is now starting to collect (this is ultimately the aim of every program), and her performance is starting to drop off, so we are now recommending that we program a deload week where we reduce the volume and intensity of her exercise regime to allow her to bounce back up again.
For many people in the general population, we don’t get to the stage where we need to program a deload because life naturally provides them for us with work stuff happening in our life causing us to miss sessions, or take a break for holidays. However, with the lockdown for many people we have been given the gift of exercising without interruptions. If this is, you be mindful of when you start to see a drop off in performance or start to feel some aches and pains appearing. This may be a time to program in a deload week. And I know this is not something you will probably want to do when you are building all this momentum. But trust me you will come out the other end of the deload so much stronger and fitter and also be at much less of a risk of injuring yourself or burning out.
These are just some pointers that have came to my mind watching these events unfurl, if there are any you have witnessed I would be keen to hear them, or if you have any questions on anything regarding your workouts please do not hesitate to get in touch.