Do you go back to the gym after a while? Keep these guidelines in mind so you don’t get hurt

Returning to sport after a period of inactivity can be rewarding and motivating. In fact, overly motivating. Raise your hand if you’ve set foot in the gym for the first time in months and tried to lift a heavier weight than you’re used to. We all raised it, sure, right?

This is one of the deadly mistakes of going back to the gym, as you will most likely have to deal with pain for the next few days, and perhaps worst case scenario with an injury. If you want to avoid these and other problems, it is best to keep the following guidelines in mind.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you can’t achieve muscle failure. It is very nice that you come back to the gym and that you take it with an unusual motivation in you. What you cannot do, however, is to subject your muscles to such stress that they reach the point of muscle failure. This concept refers to the time when the muscle reaches its limit and cannot perform multiple repetitions. Relax at first, use lower loads so that your muscles are gradually reactivated, thus avoiding the risk of injury.

In order not to achieve muscle failure, it is best to do this self-regulate. By this we mean two concepts:

  • Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE): It is a system of evaluation of the training effort that goes from 10 to 0, passing from the highest intensity to the lowest. 10 would be the point of muscle failure, while 0 would be the resting level. This meter is somewhat subjective, because perhaps what in the table is indicated as 7, for you is a 6. However, it serves to give you a more or less clear idea of ​​how far you have to push yourself in order not to crush yourself.
  • Repetitions in reserve (RIR): it’s a system where you leave a certain number of reps undone, despite the feeling that you could have done them anyway. For example, if you are able to bench press 10 reps and purposely leave three reps undone, your RIR is 3.

These two methods can help you not to overload your muscles.

Finally, what you should also keep in mind is that your muscles need it rest. It is not worth having spent months (or years) without playing sports and now it goes from Monday to Sunday. No, that’s not how things work. You need to rest your body, as muscles, ligaments and tendons need to recover after exercise. Therefore, you can start by going three to four days a week: you will get stronger, but you will also give your body rest to recover and assimilate all the load and effort made.

There is no rush to beat the muscles. If you have just returned to the gym, you need to relax so that your body gets used to the continuous exercise again. When your body gets used to the higher loads, you can practically train up to muscle decompensation, but forget about it in the first sessions if you don’t want to exponentially increase the risk of suffering an injury.


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