Combat DOMs, diet and wavering determination: The health secrets of fitness fanatics

Combat DOMs, diet and wavering determination: The health secrets of fitness fanatics

Recover like a pro

Editor: Shannon Wylie

Personal trainer Cedric Betis shares his expert tips on how to bounce back from under-training during those long, hot, summer months

For most of us returning to the gym after a summer off  can be a bit of a mental and physical struggle — Gym routine? What gym routine? However it's not all bad! Time away from the gym can actually help you. Yes, it's true. The chances are, taking a couple of weeks off or even a month won't register on the too extreme scale when you do decide to get back into your fitness routine. So here's what you need to do to get back into the swing of things after some well earnt R&R.

1. When coming back from a gym layoff, I highly recommend training as if you were a beginner — even if it's just for the first couple of weeks. Performing a movement or exercise the body hasn't done for a while usually will require some neuromuscular adaptations. So trying to go back to where you left off? Forget it. It never works. There's always some degree of strength, technique and muscle mass loss.

The mentality of where you think you 'should be' versus the reality can either see you injured or leave you wrecked with soreness.

2. Reduce the volume and intensity of your workout and gradually work back up  to where you were is the smartest way to approach this. Simply aim to roughly perform 50 to 75 percent of what you were doing before the holiday, during your first session back. If you did squats at 5 sets of 10 reps, now do two to three sets of 8-10.

Remember, this is just for the first session. Don't feel like you're backtracking. Once you feel comfortable and not in too much discomfort after each session, increase the load.

3. Downplay your regular training routine too, which will help reduce the chances of you getting delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is the inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the muscle tissue, which becomes sensitive and heightens the sensation of pain 24-72 hours after exercise.

Just remember to channel your energy. There is not point in putting in a big gym session on day one if you end up out of action for the next five days.

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