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Ben Dillon
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Feel like gym closures have stopped your gym progress? Here are 5 things, hundreds of my patients have done to come back stronger than ever!

 

What’s Inside

Gym

  1. Introduction
  2. Preface – Change your mindset

5 Things That Will Help Get You Back To Your Gym Workout!

  1. Routine
  2. Track Progress
  3. Activation
  4. Balance
  5. Nutrition

Steps – Injury breakdown

  1. What?
  2. How to do it?
  3. What steps to take.

The closure of gyms due to the global pandemic have had a devastating effect on not only the physical health of people, but the mental health, as what was once a major outlet many people’s well-being has shut due to the global crisis.

But all is not lost as this is a great time to begin strengthening your body in ways you would otherwise pass over!

While you are at home here are 5 things that will help you get back to your gym workout.

  1. Routine
  2. Track progress
  3. Activation
  4. Balance
  5. Nutrition

This series that will walk you through the 5 things you can do to get back to your gym workout!

5 things that will help you get back to your gym workout

  1. Routine: An important part of our gym workouts but more importantly our daily life, and essential to progressing towards any life goals. Routine gives us a solid foundation and structure, which allows us to consistently build, leading us to our goals!
  2. Tracking your progress: Is a key part to the health and wellness journey and is a must if you want to get the most out of your gym workouts. Tracking is a road map which allows us to see where we came from to where we are. This is a great motivational tool that will help you see what works, what doesn’t and give you that much needed push that says, “Keep going!”.
  1. Activation: Is an important part of our wellness journey. Muscular activation is the act of intentionally contracting a muscle or ‘activating’ during a movement. It allows us to focus on a target muscle or muscle group when exercising as well as help identify what muscles are might not be working, which is essential for an effective gym workout and exercise routine.
  1. Balance: A partner of routine, balance is what will keep us sane and keep us going in for the long haul. It’s the work-life balance, the balance between over training, and not training enough, and the nutrition balance. There are fine lines with this, and we need to work on what is comfortable for you to keep you going on your health journey. 
  1. Nutrition: a major player in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to health and returning to the gym. For better function, and better results ensuring that you are in control of what goes into your body. If we eat better, we perform better. We perform better, our results are better, which makes us feel better.

1. Work on your routine 

A healthy routine is a major part of not only physical well-being, but mental well-being.

From a young age we are put into routine. As children often thrive in predictable and structured routine, through our education, sport, recreation, and socialization, we too as adults thrive in a planned and organised frame works as it is the best way to gear ourselves mentally to progress.

It is only when we become adults that it becomes all the more difficult as we are responsible for our progress and no longer our parents, or teachers.

Planning and goal setting is the best way to succeed. As the old saying goes “Fail to plan, plan to fail”.

How do I get started?

The key to moving forward with any goal is to start small.

Too often people try to race to the finish thinking the more the day the faster they do it, the sooner they will arrive at the desired destination, however it can often have the opposite effect, seeing you fall off the wagon because you’re trying to do too much.

So, here’s the plan… Keep it simple. Routine

Start with something as simple as scheduling your activities. This could be your regular afternoon walk, going to bed and waking up at the same time, or finishing your workday on time.

It may sound simple, but too often when it comes to the long term commitment of exercise, it’s not just the intensity and the training that derails your progress, it’s often our inability to stick to our routine, which leads to inconsistency, which in turn affects our results.

Good routine leads to consistency, which leads to greater results, and while your gym workout maybe excellent, it won’t be nearly as effective if  you lack consistency.

Target a couple of those small things that you think will be easy to change. Changing enough of them and you will see that altering many of them leads to a big change, physically, mentally, emotionally and taking your gym workout to the next level!

2. Track Progress

This is a major one. It’s one of the best ways to keep you focused and show yourself what you’re made of.

This is something professionals use to ensure that progress is made with their clients, both in health and fitness, as well in the professional world.

When you track your progress, you give yourself the ability to focus on the task at hand, while making your goals and intentions clear.

Tracking your progress is also an excellent way to give you perspective, giving you that reference in which you can look back on and see how far you come.

How?

Similar to routine the best way to do this is to start small, let’s use a nightly walk for example.

This simple activity is something that we often can’t be bothered doing but can have such a great effect on us physically and mentally after a long day stuck inside or at the office. It is a great way to unwind, get the blood pumping and decompress and switch off.

So why not track it? Tracking

Step 1. Go to your mobile app store and download one of the fitness tracking app – I personally use “Goals-Fitness”.

It’s a free app that uses GPS to track your steps, distance, the walking path, and gives you weekly and monthly run downs of your walks/runs. Yep, and all that stuff is in the free version!

Step 2. Now, with your desired routine in mind, let’s say 3 x 30 minute walks a week, track that in your app by simply opening the app, typing in your goal and walking the distance.

Small things have big ripple effects!

What you will find when tracking is that it will not only motivate you to go on your walk, but it is a fantastic tool to look back on and see how far you have come!

That one 30-minute walk is roughly 3kms. Do that three times a week for four weeks and you have walked over 30kms!

Best of all, you can look back on exactly what you’ve done and be proud of your efforts.

Step 3. Stick to the plan. Your motivation will dwindle and you will face hurdles, but no matter what. Get back to action the next day and you will see results.

It is that simple!

Give yourself 30 days with this routine or tracking and you will see it becomes a healthy habit that you will love yourself for doing.

3. Activation! Understanding your body

Muscular activation is the act of intentionally contracting a muscle or ‘activating’ during a movement. It allows us to focus on a target muscle or muscle group when exercising as well as help identify what muscles are might not be working, which is essential for an effective gym workout or exercise routine.

Now, not doing this is something we are all guilty of, and something we get better as we get older, but something that greatly improve your training right now. 

Often passed over during our gym workouts, we tend to go through the motions, aiming to get in and get out.

But what if something as simple as concentrating on the muscles and the function you are working on could significantly increase your functional and visual result?

This is where getting familiar with your body’s muscles and function comes in. The simple concept of understanding your muscles day to day can have a profound impact on not only the gym use of your muscles, but how they work in a day to day setting.

How? Activation

Often, we are so busy with our day-to-day lives that we don’t really think about what our body is doing and how it’s doing it. However, when pain and injury sets in all we can hear is the signals from the brain telling us that something is wrong! This is the human body and human nature.

What do we do about this?

We need to listen to our bodies. Tuning in to the signs when our body is feeling good and bad.

For example,

the next time you go for a walk, think about how your body is functioning. Think about which leg strides through more, which one pushes off more.

How it performs at the beginning compared to the end.

Is it good?

Is it bad?

Is there pain, or do you feel even and strong?

These little signals are important markers that we overlook unless we are in pain.

The understanding of these sensations in daily life are such a great way to better understand your body.

If you feel that one leg is doing more while walking, try and find out why?

Can you even it out by using the other leg?

Steps:

  1. Go for your evening walk
  2. Notice how you are feeling at the beginning
  3. Monitor any changes – e.g. pain, fatigue, tightness (is it the same both sides, or just one side?)
  4. What areas or muscles are working the hardest during and what’s sore after?

These simple steps will allow you to get more in-touch with your body. The more you understand what is happening the better chance you have of getting on top of it, adjusting or fixing it and reducing injury in the future, and most importantly, better results from your gym workout!

4. Balance

Too often a return to anything can lead to an all-or-nothing attitude, and gyms opening is possibly the biggest example of that. The ‘new year, new me’ crowd is a prime example of individuals running hot out the gates, only to lose their full head of steam in a matter of days. 

So, what do we propose?

Take it easy, be realistic, and be consistent.

Whether your gym workout is for rehab or general well-being, it is an endurance event. And like anything worth having, it takes time and hard work.

For many of us, when it comes to getting back into the gym, we try to do too much. Expecting that getting going faster and more frequently will make us better in the long run, only to slack off and fall into a heap.

Impatience gets the better of us and we throw in the towel after a couple of weeks.

Balance

However, like going to work for 3 weeks won’t get you rich in, going to the gym for 3 weeks won’t make you fit. But it’s a start.

In the end, it’s the understanding, education and effort that will yield the highest results.

And this is only achievable with practice, patience and persistence.

How?

This point fits in perfectly with your routine. The Balance between life related stress and recreation is just about the biggest challenge in life. Finding that “Balance” is key.

Steps: 

  1. Allocate time/activity you would like to do (e.g. nightly 30 min walk).
  2. Stick to that activity.

That’s it.

Too often we over complicate things and see certain tasks are more important that others, and yes, I understand that some are. But some are not and yet they override the things we should be doing for ourselves.

So be realistic, manage your expectations and reflect regularly, and most of all, take your time.

5. Nutrition

Now this is one that will surely have many of you running in the opposite direction, but I assure you it will be one of the easiest ones to wrangle in. 

Proper nutrition is the one of, if not the biggest hurdle we have in life. It is one of the hardest issues to address as it is not just a physical thing that many of us see, but rather the mental and emotional attachment that keeps us going back for more.

Like many things, we need to understand our connection to food before we start correcting and adjusting our habits.

For the majority of my life I did not take much notice into what was in the food I was eating, until I went on a weight loss experience myself.

What I notice for myself is that I am a massive comfort eater, cakes, chocolates, burgers, pizza, you name it, I eat it when I’m tired, stressed, or emotionally out of alignment.

In the past I would eat whatever I wanted due to my levels of high physical activity, however as I got older, the decrease in exercise, sport and increase in life stress increased and I often found myself comforting myself with a family pizza.

Nutrition is hard, but we make it so much harder by just cutting things out when we aren’t ready, aware or willing to change. The balance between healthy habits, both physical and mental can make the journey a lot easier if we mark our triggers, and adjust accordingly.

How?

Like “Balance” we need to give ourselves a break, take time to understand our food, the attachment and the choice we are making. First thing is to start small, like reducing intakes of unhealthy options and slowly increasing healthy options.

I would change this to something like this Nutrition

  1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your diet (too much chocolate, too much sugar, not enough protein).
  2. Identify 3 things you can add and subtract from to your daily diet to improve your nutrition (e.g. eating a serve of vegetables at each meal).
  3. Over the next three weeks add one of the 3 things you listed to your diet and make it a part of your routine.
  4. Once you have completed step three, spend the next three weeks reducing the three bad things you identified in question two.
  5. Repeat until you are happy with your diet.

So many people worry and stress about what they are putting into their bodies from the start.

Scaring them into paralysis.

Start small and add good things to your diet, so you can start to see the benefits without the stress, anxiety and shame of cutting things from your diet.

Once you have nailed this step then slowly start cutting out the bad food options.

Summary

The national event of gyms opening an exciting day for many. For many it the return to your gym workout will be all-or-nothing, for some it’ll be business as usual.

But if you want those gym workouts yield some lasting results and a long-term change, start working on your routine, be sure to track progress, activate muscles, balance your nutrition (and exercise) and the results will come.

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