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Strength Training Post COVID-19

I’m sure a lot of you are itching to get back under the bar. Dive bombing into some squats, ripping up deadlifts, throwing yourself under a clean as soon as the shutter doors are up. I imagine your motivation is heightened, perhaps you’ve got a swanky new programme and new PBs in the pipeline.

But first, I want to unpack some considerations, so when you are able to access a barbell and plates, you’re better equipped with a direct focus.

Jordan Helyer 2

The time away from the gym is usually how long it takes for strength to return prior to the break, for example, 5 weeks off would require a 5 week reload phase (just 1 block of training to be back to where you were).

Therefore, we need to be mindful in filling in those initial training weeks with an intelligent approach.

Firstly, ask yourself this question – when do you intend on not lifting weights anymore?

I’m pretty sure there is no end date, right? So in the grand scheme of things, this blip in your overall training career is going to have no negative impact. No need to rush.

This means we can tune ourselves to detach from numbers, and prioritise movement mechanics. Without performing barbell movements for a period, we need to retune our motor neuron pathways – AKA neural adaptation (enhancing brain-body coordination). So with this considered, if we train the pattern more diligently and ingrain a more efficient system, we can perhaps tidy up our technique prior to what it was before lockdown. It’s an opportunity to instil a pattern that is more optimal for when you can start adding more weight in the future.

So now we have an objective, how do we select the correct load? 

In a very general sense, you’ll need to reduce between 2-3% of your max, for every week you’ve been away from specific training. Doing the ION home workouts is great for GPP so you’ll have a nice base to utilise, but it’s still going to be a novel stimulus so be aggressive reducing your training maxes! You can reevaluate numbers every two weeks based on your body’s feedback.

And as for the volume, this should be reduced too.

Bringing your training max down 20% but making up for it with a 5×10 on squats would induce more than just heavy legs! It would keep you out of training for another week or so due to the DOMS, or worse, an injury.

Sets x reps are just arbitrary numbers. We can incorporate a ‘fatigue stop’ if necessary (cutting your 5×3 to a 4×3 due to the fatigue accumulated breaking down the main objective, in which in this case is technical execution). Next time around then you will be more adapted to maintaining the quality of work, thus allowing more load and total volume.

In these early ‘reload’ phases, more isn’t better. The quality of how you perform your workouts are superior. Superior ensuring you get back up to speed quicker, and superior to giving you the foundations of surpassing your previous self, prior to lockdown. These lighter intensities certainly are an opportunity to get better all-round, embrace them and you’ll be slamming bars, crushing PR’s like a savage in no time!

In summary;

⁃ technique over everything!
⁃ reduce training max by 2-3% for every specific training week missed.
⁃ focus on long term vision rather than short term gain.

Jordan Helyer
Helyer Strength 

Passion Trumps Everything at ION
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