Dr. Zach Friedenreich, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist, NYC
The COVID-19 pandemic has really put a damper on many of the routines that we were once accustomed to, including our exercise and training regiments. As things slowly begin to reopen and the “new normal” is arriving, we are all thinking about the best ways to get back to our usual routines.
Here are a few tips to ensure you’re able to return to a consistent and sustainable training routine post-quarantine.
1. Check Your Ego
This is tip number 1 for a reason. The EASIEST way for you to injure yourself when getting back into training is assuming that you’re able to train at your pre-quarantine fitness level. Whether you’re a barbell athlete or runner, don’t expect to hit PRs your first time back in the gym or out on the roads.
Something called your chronic training load is the accumulation of the most recent 3-6 weeks of your training. If the last 6+ weeks have been anything like ours, the level of training hasn’t been quite as intense as you may be used to.
Before you go putting 300 pounds on the bar or run the highest weekly mileage of your life, take a step back and consider what your fitness level currently is. Exercising at an intensity that far exceeds your current chronic training load can significantly increase your risk for injury.
2. Monitor Your Training
You’ve heard this from us before – monitoring your training is the key to ensuring that you’re not training too hard or too much (and vise versa to be fair).
The easiest way to do this is keep a training log or journal. Each day, jot down a summary of your session, how long it took you, and rate the difficulty of the session on a scale of 1-10. Not only will this allow you to keep an eye on how hard you’re working, it also affords you an opportunity to reflect on how your body is feeling on a day-to-day basis and provides some self-accountability for your training.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself goes well beyond making sure that you’re not overdoing your training. To truly be successful in sustainable training, you must consider a more holistic approach and strive for healthy habits. Things such as getting adequate sleep, eating well, drinking plenty of water, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and practicing mindfulness are some of the lowest hanging fruit that you can improve upon without much effort.
Check out the post last month – it addresses some of these external factors that go a long way to sustainably improving your performance. Click here to read.
4. Follow A Plan
We mentioned this once earlier in this post, but accountability and sustainability go hand-in-hand when it comes to training. We’ve all been in the scenario where we’re dreading exercising or training because we don’t actually know what we should be doing. This is exactly why nothing will hold you more accountable than following a training plan – it eliminates all of the guess work.
A solid training plan will accommodate your busy weekly schedule to ensure that you consistently make time for training a few days a week. This in and of itself will make your training easier to maintain.
A training plan will also lay out the framework for achieving whatever goals you may have. Understanding that each session you’re dedicating time and energy to is playing a role in achieving your larger goals will do wonders for your motivation. More motivation equals more sustainable training.
If you’re worried about safely returning to more regular exercise post-quarantine (or any time), make sure to consider these 4 tips. Sustainable training is the best strategy to reduce your chances of getting hurt and will lead to consistent results. Even incorporating just one of these tips will go a long way…your body will thank you!
- Gabbett TJ. The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med 2016;50:273–280.