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Getting Back To The Gym

If you've ever taken time off from going to the gym (like during a global pandemic), heading back can be a challenge. Even if you're a competitive bodybuilder (which I am), there's a risk of hurting yourself if you don't take some common sense precautions.


And for anyone who is starting out or getting back to the gym, the biggest concern is ending up too sore to keep working out.


Here are some tips to make sure you're getting back to the gym the right way:



Hydrate

1) Start hydrating three days prior to going back to the gym. Hydration is crucial for everything the body does and especially for your muscles, muscle recovery and muscle repair.


2) Increase your good quality protein in your daily diet. Your body needs protein for muscle synthesis including muscle repair.


3) Begin light stretching a few days prior to hitting the gym. Keyword: light! Stretching when you haven't been physically active can be dangerous because you may end up accidentally tearing a muscle. Start with some limbering stretches, slow and steady. Don't bounce or "pulse" through your stretches.


4) Cut down/eliminate alcohol. For so many reasons, alcohol is destructive to the body and mind. Even three days without alcohol will help your body rehydrate and you'll feel more energetic!


5) Don't push yourself too hard for the first two weeks. Sure, you want to exert yourself, but if you go from not working out for a few weeks/months to pushing for a new personal record you're going to hurt yourself. Two-to-three days after your workout you're going to be in pain. And that's going to prevent you from continuing back at the gym.


6) Slowly stretch AFTER working out. Despite what you were taught in high school (if you're around my age), you should stretch AFTER working out, not before. Check out #3 above. Dedicate no less than five minutes to stretching after working out.



Good luck. Go slow. Don't try to rush to get back in shape. It'll happen quickly, even when you take it slow and steady.

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