BACK TO SCHOOL

Every year at this time, we start seeing more people come back to the gym. We typically see a significant drop during the summers, and then things pick back up in the fall, as they are now.

Part of the summer drop is due to the increase in outdoor adult activities like baseball, softball, and running outside. Parents also don’t have as much free time, due to the kids being home from school—often with extra activities of their own.

Once summer ends, I can almost hear the giant sigh of relief as people start making their way back into the gym. Since the kids have to get used to a different routine all over again, it might be a good idea to look at some things to help you get your own routine going again in the gym. So let’s go back to fitness school.

First of all, don’t do too much your first few visits. If you haven’t been working out, you’ve lost some muscle tone and probably put on some fat. That’s O.K. We’ll take care of it. But right now, you just want to get moving again.

It’s very easy to overdo things—especially if you’ve really been working out a lot in the past. The problem is, your body needs to get prepared for those hard workouts, and if you don’t respect that, you’ll be incredibly sore, and possibly even get injured.

Lots of people get shin splints in the first couple weeks of a walking or jogging program. Part of it is their form, where they are spending too much time on their heels. The right way to do it is to try and land mid-foot if possible, and then lift your heel up while pushing off the ball of your foot. This will use more calf muscle and give your shins a break.

A good start is to come in and do some light cardio and stretching your first time. Work on walking two or three miles before you start running. When you do start jogging again, jog intervals like a minute or two, followed by walking intervals for a minute or two.

Once it starts feeling easy, you can lengthen your running intervals to a quarter or half mile. Then you can start doing a whole mile. Don’t worry too much about your speed either. Your body will tell you when you’re ready for more.

If you’re going to hit the weights, you might consider doing the machines for a week to get your muscles used to working out again. Start with weights lower than you were used to before, and stop before you’ve done too much.

If you want to jump right back into the free weights, that’s fine too. Just make sure you use slightly lighter weights than you did before. After a week or so you’ll be able to start lifting a little heavier, and in two to three weeks, you should be ready to start moving some of the weight you did before.

The main thing is to listen to your body—it’ll tell you pretty quickly when you’re overdoing things. You need to make sure you match the workouts with the right nutrition. Get plenty of protein in your diet for building muscle and bone, and some quality carbs to fuel those workouts. A pre-workout snack 45 minutes to an hour before will help keep you going!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness !

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