Getting Back in the Gym
‘We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges.’
The double doors to the gym felt like the heaviest obstacles I had attempted to overcome in a while. Yes, those doors I so happily used to prance through every day of the week just two years ago. But that first day back, they required such an effort from me. How was I going to do this? I belonged back in the studio teaching classes. Where would I even start? With a deep breath in, a fist clench and a little ‘Come on Sam’, I took the step, catching my first glimpse of all the exercise machines that had been lacking in my life for such a long time.
Now I know what you’re thinking, dramatic right? This is the girl who used to write countless blog posts on how to lift weights, give people advice on ways to get stronger and happily train alongside the big boys. But two years out and I had honestly forgotten what it felt like, what to even do and where to begin.
So I started with the one thing I did remember; the squat rack.
Now I’m not going to pretend I had the best session ever and my love and knowledge for the gym came flooding back to me. It was intimidating, it was gruelling and most of all, it was mentally tough. But with the first session in the bag, I was on my way and I felt proud of myself for that. I went straight home and started doing some research, looking up training programmes and exercises I could do, so at least I had a plan next time I walked through those doors.
I decided to follow a high volume compound training programme. Basically workouts that would involve all my muscles, get me stronger, get my heart rate up and allow me to monitor progress. Every other day I rotated through different whole body exercises – squats, dead lifts, power presses, cleans, bench presses, you name it. I completed 6 reps and 6 sets of 4 exercises. If I was able to do them all without failing, I added 1.25kg to the weight the following session. To me, although a little repetitive, it was the perfect way to get back into feeling comfortable training. My technique was good and because it was always every muscle group, it didn’t require me to look into 4-5 specific chest exercises and another 4-5 to compliment hitting the opposite muscle group for ‘chest and back’ day.
I know the phrase is ‘slowly but surely’, but it was more like ‘quickly and surely’ and I noticed changes almost straight away. My strength increased, my body fat went down and with it my confidence, both in and out of the gym, improved. I started to enjoy my sessions, spending over an hour working through the sets. I didn’t feel the need to come home and stuff my face with rubbish. I wanted to refuel my muscles with healthy options and I wanted to make sure I was getting enough of the right nutrients to do this. I downloaded MyFitness pal and we’ve been good mates ever since.
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