Many of us have been forced to be self motivated and train ourselves with gyms, sports and organised gatherings being affected by COVID-19. Don’t make my mistake, and instead follow a few training rules to avoid injury.
A few months ago, I developed shin splints. I am still now rehabilitating these and slowly returning to running. Don’t be like me, if you are struggling with soreness, injury or performance progress, then we have a few tips to help!
1. Training load
Load is one of the most important aspects of exercise to monitor. With extra time and frustration on our hands, it’s easy to try and do too much, too quickly.
Increase exercise volume and intensity incrementally. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, we are all individuals who will improve differently with different types of training.
- Don’t increase your load by more than 10% from week to week. This is a general rule that varies significantly with your level, type and intensity of exercise.
- Record how difficult each session is out of 10 using the rate of perceived exertion scale (RPE). This way, you will know when to increase or decrease load. Average the score each week and monitor your score. When it begins to drop consistently, it may be time to increase your load by up to 10%.
- How you feel can be impacted by many external factors, i.e sleep and stress. Exercise will feel more difficult at these times, but it is important to improve these with exercise. Simply decrease the intensity of exercise, or the number of sessions per week during these periods to make it more enjoyable. Don’t worry if you can’t achieve the same level as the week before.
- Tapering or light weeks of exercise are important for your body to recover and improve. Using the RPE scale can help you decide when to decrease the intensity of your exercise. If it begins to rise and you’re completing the same level of training you did last week, it may be time to have a light week to recover mentally and physically.
The body loves routine. You will find performance will improve if you exercise regularly at similar times of the day. Not only will you be more likely to find the time to schedule training, you will be able to train harder and more effectively. Then you’re one step closer to training frequently enough to ensure positive physical adaptations, and therefore improved outcomes. It also enables you to measure how much you’re doing each week to prevent over or under training.
One good week of exercise will not improve your performance. It takes time and hard work.
Below is an average timeline for when you start a new training method:
- 4-6 weeks: The nervous system gets better at activating your muscles and fatigue decreases as we become more efficient with how our body works.
- 6-8 weeks: Our muscles start changing in size, number and quality. This is when you will start noticing changes physically.
So with Winter soon coming to an end, start to enjoy the warming weather on the horizon and getting back into the exercise you enjoy. Just don’t expect to be at the same fitness level if you have taken a break through Winter or COVID. Start slowly, and don’t forget to give your body time to adapt and rest.
O-health is always here for more personalised advice and injury management- you can book online here. Otherwise follow these guidelines to lower your risk of injury and ensure performance improvements.