Written by Tim Rigby
The autumn season across Canada Is almost upon us, and with gyms are open, fitness athletes can go back in and sling around substantially heavier weights using a much broader variety of equipment. Mental preparation is very important before you begin physical training with greater intensity again, for there are any number of outcomes which may arise. If you’ve been actively working out at home, using either smaller weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises, then your transition to the heavier stuff won’t be quite as difficult as those who chose not to work out at all. It will certainly require an acclimation that you may not have experienced since you first learned to work out. In the case of the individual who’s been active, your muscle fibers will now become stimulated in an accelerated way; in the case of the non-active individual, your fibers are indeed being “woken up” altogether, after many months off.
We here at Inside Fitness would like to help you push off your new training regimen in the right direction – and steer you on a course of positivity, patience and progress. The first key to training in the new normal is to stay positive before, during and after your workouts. This sounds simple, but when you’ve been unable to execute your usual training in the manner at which you’re accustomed, you’ll invariably find it more difficult than you realize. You likely won’t appreciate what we mean by this until you actually begin working out again. Many circumstances will steer you in a negative direction, which include: not being able to lift the same weight as before, having to comply with cumbersome health regulations like wearing masks as you train, feeling a greater level of soreness than you remember and simply lacking the endurance and energy you once had. Each of these phenomena have a broad level of occurrence, since they all apply to both the beginner and the advanced athlete, but you must mentally rise above them. Caving in will be like being on a sinking ship. Adjust your workouts using less weight, less volume, greater rest periods and more time between workouts (just for the initial “re-igniting” phase of your training), and by doing all these you can avoid early burnout.
The second key to maintaining a steady course of injury-free progress is to hold a high level of patience – probably more than you’ve had to for a very long time in the past. Harken back to the days when you first began working out, and you observed immediate gains in your muscle size and strength. It’s practically universal that we as humans expect the initial rapid progress to continue ad infinitum – but the reality, of course, is that gains slow down the longer you train. Therefore, what keeps you going in this fitness endeavour, is the implementation of patience (and to a very real extent, trust). Along with patience comes the ability to manage expectations, knowing for example that an entity like strength gain develops on a curve that’s initially steep and then flattens. Yet you simply need to apply these lessons of the past. If you boosted your bench press from 100 to 200 pounds in your first three months of training, you should have learned that it by no means suggests you’ll move on to 300 pounds in another three months. Such a gain, at that level, might take you at least a year to achieve. Right now, in this day and age, it’s important for you to go easy on yourself and take things with patience and perspective. This is the best way to avoid frustration and discouragement.
Combining positivity and patience, especially at an unusual time such as this, will ultimately steer you on a course toward sustained progress; truly, it will help you take control of defining your fitness future. Think of this moment as starting with a clean slate, and embrace the new challenges upon you after having to take a few steps backward in the level of your fitness. Set realistic goals for yourself, both in terms of catching up to where you used to be, and also in terms of seeing just how far you can realize your full potential.