Gyms open! For most of 2020 and all of 2021 gyms in the UK have been shut. But on 12 April 2021, we’re looking forward to having the gyms open again. Since the date was announced for the gyms to open in the roadmap out of lockdown, people up and down the country will be planning what their first workout will be. However, all of us must ensure that our bodies are gym ready and firing on all cylinders.
Gyms open on 12 April 2021
Lucy Gornall, a PT and instructor at Digme and LiveNow Fitness and a contributor to www.fitwell.com, recommends some essential techniques and exercises for people to do before they head back when the gyms open.
These simple exercises will activate the key muscles required for running on a treadmill and also ensure that the technique is right for lifting weights, so people can get the most out of their first workout, while also reducing the risk of injury.
If you’re doing barbell squats
If you haven’t touched weights in a while, prep your body with resistance bands. It’s a good way to prep your muscles for resistance without giving them too much of a shock!
How to do it:
Place a band just above your knees and go for 15-20 squats without the barbell, just the bend. Maintain good form, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms out in front of you at shoulder level. Slower lower your butt as far as you can, bending your knees and pushing your hips back. Your weight should be in your heels, not toes, and your core should be braced at all times. Push your knees out against the band as you go, then slowly return to the starting position in a controlled manner.
If you’re hitting the treadmill
If you’re about to hop back on the treadmill and you haven’t run in a while, practice some running drills. This will help prepare your body for the movement it’s about to do, activating key muscles including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves. They’ll also get your heart rate up, replicate the mobility and coordination required on the treadmill, and (like the resistance band squats) reduce the shock your body is about to experience.
Do these three key moves to create a mini circuit, repeated three times.
Single leg lunge jumps (10 on each leg)
Start in a lunge position, then quickly drive your back leg forward and up, so it comes level with your chest. Your other leg should jump vertically up off the ground. Drive your opposite arm forward, with the other arm driving backwards for balance. Return to the starting position and repeat. To modify the move and reduce the intensity, omit the jump and simply drive the knee forward as high as it will go.
High knees (30 seconds)
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Lift one leg up so your knee comes towards your chest, then quickly alternate to the other leg. The opposite arm to the leg that is raised should come into a 45-degree angle, so that you’re mimicking a sprint on the spot. If this is too much, you could modify by simply marching on the spot, so you’re not moving quite so dynamically. Or, if it feels OK and you want to increase the intensity, try moving backwards and forwards during your high knees.
Heel flicks (30 seconds)
Start by slowly jogging on the spot, then gradually start to bring your heels up towards your butt with each pace. If you like, you can place your hands behind your butt, with the palms facing backwards, in order to give your feel something to aim for (but don’t worry if they don’t reach that far back). Importantly, keep your body upright and try to land lightly.