We know it has been a hard few weeks. Your gym closed and many of you probably stopped working out. 

Don’t worry, we are here to help and guide you thought a comeback process to set you up for success. 

Going back to exercise should not be stressful. SO we are going to lay some very easy principles that will allow you to return to exercise, limit the risk of injuries and stay motivated.

Safety first: Before you start an exercise program, make sure you are injury free or cleared by a medical staff.

Now let’s get to it. 

What should I do before I start? 

There are a few thing to consider here. 

You should have a goal. 

Some people workout just to workout and it is ok. We know from experience that if you follow a plan you will be more than likely to succeed with predictable outcomes. Have a focus point to keep you in track and ensure gradual progress. 

What should you eat?

We believe in a personalized approach to nutrition. We all have a different relationship with food. We simply follow some very easy principles as a baseline.

Eat a variety of food.

Keep a balanced nutritional plan.

Meet your minimums. Make sure that before you cut down your calories, fix your diet and eat enough food to allow you to function. Then, be more specific with your caloric intake.

Should you warm up?

You might be tempted to skip the warm up when you work out.  After all, you only have so much time to exercise—“Let’s just get on with it already!  I’m in a hurry!”

But warming up is a critical component of your fitness routine, and skipping it could have unpleasant and even dangerous results—such as muscle strain, muscle injury and pain.

Oh yeah, and a proper warm-up will actually IMPROVE your workout performance!

How many sets and reps should you do?

One thing to remember is that you have been inactive or less active for a while. Your muscles, ligaments and tendons are not as strong as they use to be or have the endurance they used to have. So what can you do? One method you can use is increasing the volume each week to allow your connective tissues to adapt to more stress gradually and reduce your risk of injuries. 

For instance:

Week 1: 2 x 8 reps

Week 2: 3 x 8 reps

Week 3: 3 x 10 reps

How much weight should you use?

We get that question a lot and choosing the right weight is an important variable to your training. Since during the first week your target is 8 reps in this example, we would recommend to pick a weight that allows you to do 9 or 10 reps to maintain the quality of the movement. The goal of your first week it to establish a base and set you up for the second week. Do not train to failure. Remember, your body is not ready for that. 

How much cardio should I be doing?

We recommend anyone who starts an exercise program to build an aerobic capacity first and then add a progressive interval training training program. Select an activity that you enjoy and do 10-30 min of continuous motion. We also use the RPE ( rate of perceived exertion) to monitor the intensity. The RPE scale ranges from 1 to 10. To start a cardio workout regardless of the time, stay between an intensity of  an RPE of 3 (light exercise) to an RPE of 6 ( slightly out of breath). 

During the interval training session you will alternate between work sets and recovery sets. For instance, warm up for 5 min at an RPE of 3-4, do 3 min at an RPE of 6 (work set), do 3 min a an RPE of 4 (recovery set), then repeat 2 or 3 times. As you become more efficient, meaning your cardio level is higher you will be able to do shorter work sets and a higher intensity.  

How often should you workout?

In order to allow your body to recover properly and avoid injuries, we recommend that you take a day or two days off depending on how sore you feel. We would still recommend to day a day off if you do. It feel the soreness.

What exercise should I do?

Stick to what you know and keep it simple. Do the exercises you know you can do with perfect form. If you are not sure, do not hesitate to contact us to help you out. To know exactly which exercises you should start with and how to progress your routine, feel free to contact us.

How sore should I be?

Being sore is many time an indicator of a good workout for many gym goers. However, level of soreness in linked to how damaged your muscle fibers are. The more damaged they are the longer it takes to recover. We have seen many times that if the recovery of a workout is too long, motivation can be negatively impacted. That is also one reason why we suggest not to train to failure.

What should you focus on?

During your first cycle, we recommend to focus on the quality of the movement aka form movement competency.  We often say: “ master the lift before you move on”. The other focus should be the tempo meaning how fast you do the exercise. Do not rush through the exercise, feel all your muscle that are being recruited instead. Control the motion.

What should I eat?

Unless you have a medical condition, we like to start with a well balanced meal plan. Before we suggest people to cut down their calories, we like to make sure that people are eating enough to support their lifestyle and exercise. 

As a starting point, we like to start with the following: 

Once you master the basic meal plan, you will be able to manipulate macronutrients to achieve your goals.

What about recovery?

It is probably one of the most neglected component of training. Recovery has a huge impact on getting results …or not. Recovery includes your nutrition, your sleep, your cool downs and your stress management strategies. 

If you do not recover properly, we afraid that your progress will be so slow that it may demotivate you or your results will never come which will probably make you lose all motivation. 

We hope this helps. 

In our next article we will discuss how to set up smart goals.