Are you missing this important key to workout effectiveness?

Range of motion refers to how much a joint needs to move to complete any given movement. So when it comes to exercise, range of motion simply refers to how much movement you need in order to complete an exercise optimally.

For example, the range of motion (ROM) for a squat is how low your body needs to go to complete the exercise. For a full ROM squat, your butt would be as close to the ground as you are anatomically able to get (without breaking form).

Many exercises can call for only partial ROM, when you stop short in an exercise. In the squat example, this would be only going halfway down. Partial ROM can be a particular training technique (such as time under tension) but a lot of the time, it’s an accident. Trainees might think they’re using full range of motion when they aren’t.

That can be a problem because if you’re not working through a full ROM, then you are not maximising the growth potential of your muscles. You want to be able to be strong throughout the whole movement, not just part of it. A 2012 study found that full range of motion strength training increased muscle strength and size more than partial range of motion training.

In addition, increasing your ROM will help your overall mobility and flexibility — both in and outside the gym. Indeed, if you have a job where you’re sitting down all day, your muscles aren’t getting enough regular full ROM movement. Even a simple warm-up of stretching and moving through a full ROM can help improve your mobility. So you can imagine how taking your exercises through their full range of motion can be of enormous benefit.

How to increase your range of motion

1. Take note of your form

Increasing your ROM in your various exercises is sometimes simply a matter of just noticing whether you are taking your muscles through the full range of a movement. For a biceps curl, it’s fairly easy to note whether or not you have begun and ended the movement with your arms straight.

2. Work on your mobility

Some exercises will require a bit more work. So another method of increasing your range of motion for a given exercise is to actively try to increase your mobility by pausing at the hardest point in the movement. For a squat, that would mean sitting in the bottom for as long as you can (pause squats can help train this).

3. Warm up with a full range

Another method to help increase your ROM is to use a warm-up technique such as foam rolling to increase your natural range of motion. A 2019 study found that foam rolling significantly increased strength trainees’ hip flexion, which would be beneficial in exercises such as squats and deadlifts.

4. Work the opposing muscles

A final method to increase ROM would be to work the opposing muscle group to your target muscle. It’s often a case of finding the corresponding pull or push exercise for your movement. For example, to increase range in your shoulder press (a push movement), work your lat pulldowns (a pull movement). For leg extensions (push), do hamstring curls (pull).

For more training articles, make sure to check out our blog.  

What is the most effective training frequency?

One of the oldest and most asked fitness questions is how often should someone be working out. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a simple prescription that will work for every trainee. Like anything, it all depends on the individual person — their experience or fitness level, their lifestyle and their work ethic.

At a basic level, there are general guidelines to follow when deciding how often to work out. A 2016 study found that major muscle groups should be trained at least twice a week to maximise muscle growth.

In addition, a 2019 study also found that training frequency doesn’t matter all that much in terms of muscle gain as long as the volume of work you do is equivalent.

That is, it’s less about training frequency and more about how much you can do within any given workout session. So, if you can fit in the same volume of work in two sessions of 60 minutes as you could do in three sessions of 40 minutes, your results would be the same.

However, that’s not to say that only going to the gym once a week and working out for hours on end would be the best advice either. One benefit of frequent workouts, both cardio and weight training, is that the more often you go to the gym, the more you will get all-around conditioning benefits. Less frequent weights sessions mean you need to make up that cardio or NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) when you’re not at the gym.

In addition, if your lifestyle means that the only real exercise you can do is when you’re in the gym, you’re better off with more frequency.

With all that in mind, here are some of the factors to take into account when trying to design an effective workout frequency schedule:

Experience level

One of first things to consider is how much your body can handle. If you’re a beginner just starting out at the gym for a first time in a while (or even ever), working out twice a week I plenty. By the same token, if you’re an experienced trainee with a good base level of fitness, you can probably handle much more frequency, in the three-to-five days a week range. The key is just to make sure you’re giving yourself enough time between workouts to recover.

Fitness goals

Your fitness goals are ultimately going to determine the types of workouts you will be doing. This ultimately is going to have an impact on frequency of your sessions. For example, if you’re on a standard bodybuilding or strength training split, where most or all of your workouts are resistance-based, you will want a different program to someone training for a marathon. Similarly, if you’re trying to build cardiovascular endurance, three sessions a week might not be enough.

Lifestyle

The best exercise routine is the one you can stick to. There’s no point starting a routine that has you at the gym five days a week if your other commitments (work, family etc.) mean that you can only realistically make it two-to-three times. What’s more important is to focus on what you can commit to, whether that’s five days a week or only two. Especially at the start of a new year, we can get over-excited and try to do too much before quickly burning out. So be smart and decide ahead of time what your lifestyle and commitments can handle — and then stick to it.

Don’t overdo it

Something important to bear in mind is that you need time between workouts to recover. As the old saying goes, you don’t grow in the gym, you grow when you’re resting. No matter what kind of training you do, your routine needs to take into account days off for your body to rest and recover. Even if your body and lifestyle can handle training six or seven days a week, at a certain point, something has to give.

Takeaway

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s just how much time we can devote to training that varies. If you have the luxury of time, you can decide on your training frequency methodically: divide your your fitness goals up into exercise sessions and work out how many days you need to get all those workouts done.

For the rest of us, it’s probably a case of deciding how many days we can train consistently. And then picking workouts that we can do within those two, three or four sessions.

In the end, the best workout routine is the one that you can stick to.

For more training articles, make sure to check out our blog.  

January 19 is an important day in the world of health and fitness. According to research conducted by Strava, who looked at the data from over 800 million user-logged activities from 2019, it’s the day that most people’s new year’s resolution for a fitter, healthier body and lifestyle is abandoned. They named it Quitter’s Day.

The fact that over 10 per cent of all gym memberships are purchased in January is not a coincidence either. But if people are abandoning their goals within weeks, it is not ideal for getting the most value out of their memberships, and it doesn’t bode well for your New Year’s resolution as well.

Could your choice of facility be influencing your decision to turn up? The answer is a resounding yes. One key to forming any habit is your ability to remove roadblocks.

In behavioural terms, roadblocks are the things that we allow to stand in our way, or prevent us from following through. There are a number of features of a gym facility that could become a roadblock. Your gym should motivate you to train. It should create an enticing environment that draws you there, rather than help give you reasons to skip workouts. With that in mind, here are our top four things to think about before signing up for your new gym membership.

Location

Where your gym is located is an important factor and it’s not as simple as you might think. Proximity matters — it needs to be close by, because as far as roadblocks go, a long drive will definitely be a nail in the coffin when your motivation is low.

But the question is, close by to where? Depending on your circumstances, it might make more sense to purchase a gym membership at a facility close to your work instead of close to your home. You might be more likely to squeeze in a workout at lunchtime than early in the morning or in the evening when you get home tired after a long day. For the early morning trainees, you will feel less time pressure if you know your gym is only a short distance from work as opposed to being on the other side of a long commute and traffic.

The other potential benefit to a gym close to work is, you might find a work colleague that could turn into a reliable gym partner. The benefit of a training partner that you work with is they’re in the same place as you every day anyway, so you can motivate each other to stick to that lunch-time regime, or the post-work cycling class.

Parking/transport

Another key point to a gym’s location is whether there is good access to parking or public transport, which matters closer to the city. Is the gym on a main road without onsite parking, is the facility easy to get to, is the drive a little awkward, is parking going to be challenging? Picking a gym in a location like this will give you plenty of excuses not to go, or to post-pone your workout for a time where there are fewer roadblocks. Again, we need to avoid these. Pick a gym that is easy to get to, where the trip is not going to lose you time or motivation.

Feel

Every gym has a certain personality and we at Life Fitness know this better than most. We provide state of the art equipment for a range of facilities, from small group training-style of venues to expansive, bodybuilding gyms and everything in between. We know that there are many different tastes and preferences in the health and fitness world.

If you’re on the look-out for a new gym, think about what your preference is going to be. Do you want lots of variety and big workout spaces or do you want a smaller and more private type of facility? Visit a variety of gyms. Take all the tours, get a feel for the ambience, observe the PTs and the other members. Get a sense for whether the venue will be a place you will want to go to, that will inspire you, that will draw you in, and pick the one that you connect with most. Ask about their group fitness and variety of classes if that’s important to you, and conversely, if you have no interest in classes, you won’t want a membership with all of those elements built in, if you’re never going to use them.

Equipment

A massive part of how you will feel about a gym — possibly the most important part — is the equipment. Is the equipment new? Is there variety? Do they have the right pieces? But the most important part of that is, is the equipment quality and do you trust the brand that is in there? When you’re loading the machine with weight, stepping into the squat rack with a loaded barbell, or cranking the treadmill up to high speeds, are you confident about your safety? If it’s a Life Fitness or Hammer Strength piece, we know you are. Look for the Hammer Strength and Life Fitness brands before signing up to a new gym. That’s the only way you’ll know they have the best quality gym equipment and the best servicing in the market.

Happy training!

 

When it comes to building strength and fitness, there’s a lot of information out there that can be confusing or contradictory. However, there are guiding principles that will always apply in undertaking any fitness pursuit.

Here are 10 simple tips and mantras to keep in mind that should keep you on the right track as you travel on your fitness journey.

1. Work for it, wait for it.

As with most things in life worth doing, fitness success doesn’t necessarily come easily. It will take work to make it happen. But day by day, you will see small improvements — in your sprint time, in the weight you can lift — and those small improvements over time add up to big results. Have patience and perseverance.

2. The basics aren’t easy — but they work.

Many things that seem simple in theory are actually hard in practice. That goes double for strength and conditioning. It’s all too easy to get drawn in by the newest trend or system but when it comes right down to it, the basics are what work.

3. Your lifestyle has an impact.

Is your life set up for fitness success? If you aren’t prioritising rest and health in your everyday life, all the work you put in at the gym won’t count. Of course, everyone needs to unwind once in a while but partying every weekend isn’t going to help. On the other hand, if the rest of your life is in order, achieving fitness goals will be much easier.

4. Consistency = success.

Seems pretty simple, right? Once again, it’s a simple concept to understand but difficult to implement. Sticking to the plan, even when you don’t feel like it, is one of the underrated keys to fitness success.

5. Progressive overload is the key to strength success.

Put simply, progressive overload is increasing your workload in the gym over time, putting your body under increasing stress, so that it never adapts. When it comes to strength, hypertrophy — growing muscle — is caused by regular muscle overload, meaning lifting heavier weights. Aiming to do slightly better every week or even every workout will set you up for fitness success.

6. Mindset is everything.

You might think that what your body does in the gym determines your success but it really has more to do with what’s in your head. Your mental game has to be strong — that means mindfulness, determination, willpower and persistence. Otherwise, you risk your body being let down by your mindset.

7. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Nobody starts out the best at anything so don’t get discouraged when attempting a new feat, whether that be a new exercise, a new PB or a completely new style of training. Every time you try to do something, you will get better if you work at it.

8. Take time off regularly.

Your body grows and recovers when it’s at rest, not while it’s in the gym. So it’s important to not smash yourself every single day of the week with intense workouts. If you’re the type of person who naturally goes overboard, build some rest days into your workout plan. Your body will thank you.

9. Set goals.

Once you’ve set achievable, measurable fitness goals, you have a roadmap to achieve them. They don’t have to be big goals, especially if you’re a beginner, but you should have them. In addition, your goals can determine the training you need to do. Setting short- and long-term goals for your chosen sport or your physique will help you to decide on the style of training you should be undertaking. If you’re a long-distance runner, hitting the weights to bulk up might not be the best use of your time in the gym. But training for your 10K run on a treadmill puts your body in the right direction.

10. There are no shortcuts. Enjoy the journey.

Despite what social media might have you believe, there are no easy fixes. There’s no way around putting the work in, day-in and day-out. The road is long — so get used to the long haul. It’s worth it.

For more training articles, visit our blog.

Have you ever thought about how the names of different exercises might be affecting your form when you attempt the movement?

Think about it: how you conceive of a movement in your mind affects the way you approach completing that movement. And that all begins with the names of exercises, what we call them. Sometimes that’s helpful — we know a dumbbell lateral raise refers to raising a dumbbell laterally. But there are some tricky ones that might be putting your form off.

Here are a few exercises whose names might be preventing you from properly benefiting from them:

Cable crossovers

A perennial finisher for a chest workout, cable crossovers are a great way to hit your pecs from different angles to what you can manage with bench presses and flyes. However, despite the name, you don’t need to actually cross your hands over during this exercise. In fact, many people don’t — or can’t, especially if they have previously had shoulder issues.

The cable crossover is just as effective with the hands brought together rather than one across the other. In fact, depending on the angle, crossing your hands over might be impossible. As usual, maintaining tension in the target muscle group is the guiding principle.

Straight-arm lat pulldowns

Another cable finisher (or pre-exhauster), this time for your back, the straight-arm lat pulldown is performed using a short bar attached at shoulder level. Extend your arms out and pull down, making sure you can feel the tension in your lats.

The straight-arm part is slightly misleading, however. Yes, you keep your arms straight, but do so without locking your elbows out. If you lock out any joint, it shifts the stress from your target body part to the joint itself, which is a recipe for disaster in the long run.

Stiff-legged deadlifts

Strength and conditioning expert Bret Contreras defines the stiff-legged deadlift as “simply a deadlift performed with high hips while trying to target the hamstrings”.

In his view, the ‘stiff’ part refers to the hamstrings. “The knees will bend, the shins will stay vertical, your hips will sit back, and you will try to keep the hamstrings as stiff as possible throughout the movement,” he says on his website.

But how many people do you know who think ‘stiff-legged’ refers to locking your knees? As mentioned above, when the knees are locked, you’re transferring tension to the joint instead of, in this case, the hamstrings, where you want it.

Now, of course, there are a few variations of a similar movement, and strength coaches each have their own definitions. There’s the Romanian deadlift, where you keep your knees slightly bent but your shins straight, and then there’s the straight-legged deadlift, where there is no knee bend (but also no knee lockout); each variation has its own form peculiarities and uses.

All this said, locking your knees in general is a no-no if you want the tension to remain in the target muscles.

Find more training articles at our blog.

10 Gym Safety Tips.

This year in particular, we’ve all been even more aware of our health and safety, especially when it comes to training. So it’s never a bad time for a refresher course on gym safety — especially if you’ve been away from it for a little while. Accidents in the gym are entirely preventable and while we all get small injuries from time to time, an activity that is geared around health — going to the gym — should never put you in physical danger.

Here are 10 of the top safety tips for the gym:

1. Form, form, form.

A general rule of weight training is form before weight. If you can’t lift something with good form, you shouldn’t try. Using good form and technique while in the gym is one of the best ways to keep yourself free from injury. Use strict form with every exercise and not only will you get better and stronger at each exercise, you’ll also have more longevity than most of the other lifters in your gym and spend less time on the bench from injury.

2. Use a spotter or gym partner.

There are many reasons for training with a partner but one of the best is that it keeps you safe while training. A spotter, especially on exercises such as the bench press or squats, where you’re potentially under a lot of weight, should be mandatory when lifting heavy. (And this is without even mentioning how a spotter can help you achieve lifting goals.) A spotter can also check your form to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for a major injury and step in before it’s too late.

3. Stay hydrated.

A no-brainer, right? You get hot and sweaty at the gym and you need water to replenish what you sweat out. Plus, some gyms are not as air-conditioned as you might like. Whether you like to sip on an intra-workout or just have your jug of water with you, you need to be taking in fluids while you work out.

4. Be aware of your surroundings.

We often like to be ‘in the zone’ while working out: earbuds in, eyes focused straight ahead and concentrating on getting the work done. However, not paying attention to what’s around you can be bad news. You don’t want to walk into someone’s dumbbell raises or get kicked in the head by a hanging knee-up because you were too focused on making a beeline for the squat racks. Keep your eyes open.

5. Put your weights back.

This overlaps with gym etiquette but re-racking your weights goes a long way towards making the gym a safer place. Leaving heavy weights on the floor is just asking for accidents and injury. Ever stubbed your toe on an errant dumbbell in the gym? Imagine falling head over heels from tripping on a barbell that hasn’t been re-racked.

6. Always use a towel.

This one isn’t about injury but general health. By now, everyone should know this one but it bears repeating: make sure you always have a towel with you to put on any equipment you use (and to wipe yourself down if you’re dripping with sweat) to protect yourself from germs. Most gyms have it as a requirement of entry anyway, but you do still see the occasional idiot making the gym less safe for others. In addition, be a good gym member and spray the equipment you’ve used (including the weights) with disinfectant. Your fellow gym-goers will thank you.

7. Warm-up.

No, you don’t have to stretch for hours on end or roll around on a piece of foam (though that can help), but at the very least you should help your body acclimate to what you’re about to put it through. If you’re using the cardio machines, start out slow and gradually build up to a run. If you’re going to be doing a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) style session, still start out with a light jog to get the blood moving around your body. When it comes to weights and pin- or plate-loaded machines, put your body through the motions it’s going to be performing with a light weight, so your muscles switch on and engage. This seems obvious but when we’re pressed for time in the gym, it’s easy to forget.

8. Take your time.

We all have busy lives and it’s a fast-paced world. It can be hard to find the time to even get to the gym, let alone give it the concentration it requires. What makes it worse is that we always want everything yesterday. This is never more true than in the gym. However, it’s much better to take the time to get it right than to rush in and get injured. Don’t try to keep up with your gym partner if they’re going heavy and you’re struggling. Wait until you’re ready. This goes for the long-term too: understand that fitness is a lifelong pursuit — the rewards come gradually, not all at once.

9. Only lift weight you can handle.

Related to the previous point, building strength takes time in the gym, so don’t rush into going too heavy while you can’t handle it. If you’re a beginner wanting to test how much you can lift, you’re liable to overdo it and, forgetting to use good form, and potentially giving yourself an injury that will take a long time to recover from. (This is another reason having a spotter is important for safety.) Find safer ways to test your strength — improving your form, looking up ways to test your maximum weight with a calculated rep scheme — and you’ll be fitter and healthier in the long run. Be safe; strength will come.

10. If you’re not sure, ask someone.

This might be the one that almost nobody does but the one with the most potential to make gyms a safer place. Maybe you need a spotter for your last set. Better to ask than to try it yourself and get yourself injured. And nobody wants to be the person in the gym who doesn’t know how to do an exercise or use a piece of equipment properly, but if we just swallow our pride and ask a more experienced member, we might just learn some things. Gym members might seem scary sometimes but we’re all there for the same reason — reach out and ask if you need help.

 

The use of rowing machines at health clubs has consistently increased over the last decade largely because they provide a great high-intensity, low-impact workout. It’s important to ensure that form and technique are correct to get the most out of the rowing experience.

THE FOUR STAGES OF ROWING

To start, it’s best to know the four distinctly different stages of the rowing stroke.

IMAGINE YOU’RE IN A BOAT

Whether you are in an actual boat or on a rower, it helps to imagine the hydrodynamics involved in rowing. Power is delivered during the “catch” phase when the oar hits the water, and the body in the most compact position is ready to explode with controlled power. This portion of the movement is what actually moves the boat on the water. Maximum power is delivered in the first half of the movement while the second half controls the taper of power with the maintenance of technique.

Since rowing requires consistently reversing directional movement patterns, a taper of energy in either direction helps control the amount of energy required throughout the entire movement. Mastering the technique of rowing can help an individual maximize the efficiency of their energy expenditure regardless of their level of fitness.

THE CATCH PHASE

The power of the catch phase is distributed to the oar to move the boat on the water. The finish phase is at the end of the range of motion, after the power has already been delivered to the oar. The oar comes out of the water and the individual returns to reset their body into the ideal compact position necessary for the catch phase to deliver power again. At this point the torso is tall and the back is flat right before you push off. Ideally at the end of the range of motion, the powerful velocity created throughout the movement has been reduced to zero.

QUICK REMINDERS

Whether you are just starting out or you have been rowing for years, try not to forget these technical reminders while rowing.

  1. Catch and release. Control your timing, tempo and power production.
  2. The order of muscular recruitment is legs and hips, core, back, arms and then reset
  3. Breathing rate should change with intensity. Switch from one breath per stroke cycle to two breaths per cycle when things start to get intense.
  4. Start with slower strokes per minute (16 to 22) to master technique before moving on to faster strokes per minute (23 to 30).
  5. An appropriate warmup starts with moderate power and focuses on technique.
  6. Find your “race pace” for the distances of 2,000 meters, 5,000m and 10,000m. Practice maintaining the race pace power required for each distance.
  7. Utilize strokes/minute, watts, split time (and heart rate if possible) to control the intensity during your total time duration and distance traveled.
  8. Practice training slightly above and slightly below race pace for varying distances and durations.

Learn more about our rowers: https://www.lifefitness.com.au/product/life-fitness-heat-performance-row/

 

 

Exercise is better for your mental health than having more money, study says.

Would you rather be happy or have more money? Research suggests exercise is more important for mental wellbeing than having money.

A 2018 study looked at the physical activity and mental state of 1.2 million American participants. The cross-sectional study drew on previous years’ survey results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System.

In particular, the researchers looked at data relating to self-reported days of poor mental health, how much exercise participants did and their income levels.

The researchers found that those who exercised more regularly felt bad for fewer days per year. That is, people who were not very active felt bad for an average of 18 more days a year than their active counterparts.

“Individuals who exercised had 1·49 (43·2%) fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise matched for several physical and sociodemographic characteristics,” said the study.

In terms of mental health burden, the study found that all types of exercise helped people’s mental wellness compared to not exercising at all.

However, the largest association between exercise and happiness were team sports, cycling and gym activities. In addition, the study found that regular exercise of three-to-five times a week for around 45 minutes per session was the most effective in terms of mental wellness.

An interesting additional finding compared people who exercised with those who didn’t exercise but earned more money. The researchers found that physically active people were about as happy as those who were inactive but earned $25,000(USD) more per year.

As in, when it comes to mental wellbeing, exercise is just as good, if not better, than having more money.

The study has been published in The Lancet journal.

Reference

Chekroud, S.R. et al. (2018.) ‘Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study.’ The Lancet. Volume 5, ISSUE 9, P739-746, September 01, 2018. Published: August 08, 2018
https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30227-X

Lost the drive to exercise after lockdown? Here’s some tips to help you along.

Throughout lockdown, we’ve all been waiting for the day we can get back to our local gym. However, as gyms reopen around the country, some of us might have felt unmotivated to return. We might need a new plan to get back into a regular fitness routine. Something to inspire us.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips, both practical and motivational, to help you get back into the gym and back on your fitness journey:

Accept that it won’t be the same. Booking session times, limited member numbers, physical distancing, equipment not in use — these are all going to be the new normal, at least for the foreseeable future. All we can do is accept it and get the best workout done that you can within these new parameters. But look on the bright side: the level of hygiene will be extremely high and gym management will be doing everything they can to keep members safe. And you’ll still be getting your workout in.

Remember that staying active is important. You may have lost the drive but for both mental and physical health reasons, we all need to exercise. The Australian Department of Health notes reasons on its website that it’s especially important to exercise during this pressing time, including: reducing the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and stroke, reducing stress and anxiety and improving your sleep. They also have a physical activity planner and a meal planner to help people stay on a healthy routine.

Don’t become discouraged. After having so much time off, you might feel like you’ll never get back to your old level of fitness. But if you just take things one day and one session at a time, soon enough you will build back your fitness. And as you do, your motivation will increase.

Next, you need to physically prepare for getting back to the gym.

Exercise tips when starting back at the gym after a layoff:

Ease back into weight training

Your fitness level has probably changed, so take it easy when you first get back into the gym.

Unless you had access to quite a lot of fitness equipment while gyms were closed, it’s likely you weren’t able to perform your regular routine. That means your fitness level is different: your strength level has probably gone down, you reach your pain threshold quicker and you’re sorer after a workout.

Easing into it includes using lighter weights, doing fewer sets and fewer exercises per workout. There’s nothing you want less than hitting the gym really hard the first week and then getting injured because you can’t handle the loads you’re used to.

Go steady on the cardio

Similarly, when it comes to cardio, you might find your endurance level has also gone down. You might be only able to jog when you used to be able to sprint. That’s OK! You are likely deconditioned and it will take some time to build all those things up again. If you try to go too hard too soon, you risk injuring yourself and thus further delaying your return to fitness. Better to go slow, stay safe and achieve more in the long run.

Focus on form

You might think you remember all the pointers of good form but after time off, it’s always smart to have a refresher. For every exercise, focus on the muscle group you’re working and slow down the movement. Good technique is going to help you build back your strength and fitness level more than rushing into things. This is especially the case for higher risk movements such as the squat or deadlift. Train smart.

Don’t neglect warming up

Working out at home might have gotten us into the habit of being cavalier about warming up but it is going to be hugely important as you return to the gym.

You might think that because there are gym time limits, you can’t afford to spend any time warming up. However, it is something that will not only help your recovery but also set you up for a successful workout. In addition, it’s one of the main things that can help stop you from injuring yourself. Taking 10 minutes at the start of a session for stretching, foam rolling or a light jog on the treadmill can make a huge difference. Small investment, big payoff.

Reduce your frequency

As mentioned above, if your body is deconditioned after not being in a gym for a while, it also means that you probably shouldn’t be launching into workouts five days a week. Try to take it one workout at a time, see how you feel and go from there. Remember, we have rest days for a reason.

Assess your recovery

After a workout, assess how you feel and how much time you need to fully recover. For example, it’s likely that your DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) will be more intense after a weights session. You also might feel more zapped of energy after a gym session. Listen to your body and give it the rest it requires. That includes getting decent sleep.

Keeping this in mind can help not only to motivate you but to get you back on your fitness journey.

It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has made many people realise how important being a member of fitness club is.

A new report has looked into how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected gym-goers and shed some light on how much they value their fitness.

Published by global fitness association IHRSA, the COVID Era Fitness Consumer report is based on a study of American health club members.

Aiming to provide insight into how health club users felt and behaved about the COVID-19 pandemic, the report looked at the perspectives of members returning to their fitness facilities, changes in fitness activity, how personal goals changed and consumer confidence in facilities’ safety protocols.

The report surveyed people aged 18+ in the United States with gym memberships (or those who had to cancel their memberships due to COVID. The survey itself was conducted by market research company Kelton.

“The data confirms the essential role health clubs play in promoting and maintaining the well-being of consumer,” said Jay Ablondi, Executive Vice President for Global Products at IHRSA.

“Seventy per cent of members rely on their health clubs to maintain overall health, while 30% use their health and fitness centres to help build their immune system. More than one-third miss the community aspect of belonging to a health club. Clearly, there’s no replacement for health clubs or gyms.”

Although based on international data, this research seems to largely resonate here in Australia as well.

Key points from the report include:

What people miss about the gym

95% of club users say they miss at least one aspect of going to the gym

42% miss working out with other people; 26% miss having people at the gym encourage them through a workout

36% miss the sense of community gyms provides

When surveyed about favourite activities, 59% of people mentioned missing the gym —

second only to missing loved ones (65%)

Dissatisfaction with other options

50% of gym-goers are dissatisfied with their new (non-gym) fitness routines.

51% of people say they are unable to get the same variety of workouts at home; 54% say they have limited equipment at home.

48% of people said they have had a harder time finding motivation to exercise during the pandemic, both in places where gyms have reopened and where they haven’t.

Stress and mental health

53% of people who have returned to the gym, where possible, say one of their goals in having a gym membership is to elevate their mood

63% of fitness club users say they feel more stressed now than at the start of 2020

68% of those who cancelled their memberships due to COVID reported feeling more stressed

65% of people said they use exercise to cope with stress

As gyms reopen with COVID-19 restrictions in place, this data shows just how important fitness facilities are to their members. Members cannot wait to get back to their regular fitness routines.

You can download the report here.

© 2021 Life Fitness. All Rights Reserved.