Question: I'm just starting out in a workout routine. How should I go about building myself up and minimize the risk of an injury setback?
Answer: So you’ve come off the fitness rails and are working to get back in the groove. One of the most common mistakes people make when they’re trying to return to exercise after a layoff is come in too hard. This can result in a discouraging level of soreness or even an injury. Here are five tips to help you get past the crucial first three weeks.
Be realistic in your expectations of your body
Quite simply, you are going to be a bit sore. It’s next to impossible to start up after a layoff and not have your muscles lobby a grievance against you. They’ve been sedentary and underused and you’ve suddenly slapped them with a demand that they’re not used to. They’re not going to like it. Expect and embrace this to some extent and you will keep the positive attitude that got you going. The good news is that they will adapt quickly and within weeks your workouts won’t make you sore at all.
Avoid multiple sets
Many sources tout the benefits of multiple sets. While there are many advantages to performing multiple sets, now is not the time to seek them out. Generally speaking, acclimatizing your body to single set arrangements for a few weeks will go a long way to help you ease in. Once you’re over the hump, you can start to stack on the set volume with great results.
Avoid heavy loads and advanced progressions
Use this first few weeks to engrain the exercise technique and begin to address imbalances, instabilities and motor pattern deficiencies. Now is not the time to crush yourself with the hard progression or advanced workout posted on the blog. There is no shortage of time on the other side of the first three week period to challenge yourself with all of the amazing advanced workouts and exercise progressions that the top athletes from every sport use.
Extend your rest
One of the greatest qualities of the TRX is its capability for lightening fast transitions between exercises. As you get comfortable with the basic procedures of shortening, lengthening the TRX and placing your feet in the foot cradles you will find that you can transition between any two exercises in under 20 seconds. The reality is that you shouldn’t until you’ve engrained your routine. Take some extra time between exercises and avoid super sets for the first few weeks. Short transitions and advanced set arrangements can be added in with great affect after the first three weeks.
Take rest days and use them for light recovery workouts
One of the best ways to manage the soreness that accompanies a new training routine is to be sure you are taking enough time off to recover and to use these rest days for light, active recovery. Go for a walk, do an easy bike ride or swim or add a flexibility session on these rest days. Integrating the TRX Essentials: Flexibility DVD is one of the best ways to increase your rate of recovery from the strength training workouts and improve your flexibility, an area most people place little emphasis on but sorely need.
Fraser Quelch is Director of Training and Development for TRX. An expert in functional training and endurance athletics, Fraser has presented at events worldwide and is featured in numerous fitness DVDs. Fraser holds a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education and in 2011 was named co-recipient of IDEA's Program Director of the Year award.