Gym are finally starting to open back up (albeit in a reduced capacity) as COVID-19 restrictions ease around Australia. As exciting as it is to get back into our weighted workouts and classes, it’s really important to remember that we may not be able to lift or perform at the level we were pre-isolation.

So before you get back into exercise after a long break, there are a few areas you need to focus on to ensure you are getting the most from your sessions and regaining your fitness ASAP, injury-free.

1. Sleep

Sleep is one area of health that many don’t prioritise, but this is where the magic of rest and regeneration happens! Good sleep is about quality and quantity so aiming to get 7 to 8 hours of solid shut eye is critical to living and performing at your best. Aside from the obvious feelings of fatigue, a lack of sleep is also linked to poorer health outcomes (including a higher risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, and type 2 diabetes mellitus), reduced focus, productivity loss and reduced athletic performance.

It’s is essential to help restore energy, assist in muscle recovery and repair, as well as increasing your gains during a session. If you think you may require more sleep, start by going to bed 30 minutes earlier and see if this makes a difference in your output and recovery. If quantity isn’t the issue, assess your screen usage and blue light exposure before bed. Try reading a book or listening to a meditation instead of scrolling.

2. Nutrition

Making sure that you’re properly fuelling your body pre and post-workout is important for increased performance and quicker recovery.

  • Pre-workout meals provide sustained energy throughout the session which helps to improve performance. Consume a carbohydrate source such as a slice of toast or piece of fruit 30 to 60 minutes pre-workout.
  • Post-workout meals assist in recovery, replenish energy stores, promote muscle growth and repair, and help to rehydrate. Include protein and carbohydrates in this meal such as wholegrain toast with eggs, or a high protein banana smoothie. Try to consume this within 30 to 60 minutes post session.

Head here for more of what you need to be eating as you return to training.

3. Recovery

We get it, you’ve missed the gym! You might be inclined to spend as much time as possible at the squat rack and press pause on rest when returning to exercise after a long break. However, your body will not be used to your pre-isolation regime so it’s important to slowly increase your training load and take recovery days. This is especially important if you’re feeling those DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) more frequently. Listen to your body and take rest days as needed – your body always knows best!

4. Patience

And finally, patience. It may be frustrating that you can’t lift as heavy or run as fast as you did before gyms closed, but it’s important to remember that you will get back there! Take it slow and be patient as lifting too heavy or going too hard may lead to injury or burn out. Using the above strategies, you will be back to hitting those PBs before you know it.