Her 4 week plan to get in form for the lockdown to finish

For the past 12 months we have effectively been laboratory rats. The world has changed and so has our bodies. Whether you’re someone who feels like you haven’t moved since last March, walked an hour every day, or kept up with home workouts, we can all see and feel the effects of the pandemic on our fitness levels.

In my personal training clubs, we use a “Styku” laser scan on customers to determine exact changes.

In general, we see a slight gain in weight, but a significant increase in body fat (an average of 15 to 20 percent), with muscle mass decreasing by 5 to 6 percent. The circumference around the waist has increased by an average of five percent, the thighs by eight percent, and the arms and chest have changed only slightly.

The loss around the thighs is particularly revealing. To burn fat, we need our major muscles, the hungry big ones, to be fueled and strong. So the thighs, chest, back, and buttocks all need to retain some bulk to use up calories.

Cardiovascular exercise is vital to our wellbeing and overall calorie consumption. However, with a small daily window in which people do mostly low to moderate cardiovascular exercises – that long walk, the slow run, and the long bike ride – we haven’t created any challenges to our bodies. If your normal routine was to go to the gym before locking, you have been regularly testing muscle structures, forcing them to adjust and burn. This constant pressure burns energy and increases the metabolic base so that we burn more calories when we are doing nothing, even when we are sleeping.

What has also become apparent from the increasingly busy physical therapy clinics is that our postures really didn’t have a good time in lockdown. The muscle loss in the buttocks, thighs, and abdomen has resulted in severe hip and knee pain, and our necks have become significantly stiffer from spending more time bending over a desk or slumped on a sofa.

Now the end is in sight, it’s time to undo the damage, hit the restart button and start building our fitness levels back to how we left them and then, vitally, going beyond them.

Of course, exercise and activity have tremendous, proven benefits for mental wellbeing – which is more important now than ever. With that in mind, I would advise stopping watching YouTube sessions and trying to go outside and exercise with a partner – we are social beings and feel more inspired and motivated when we get active with others.

Be patient. If you are allowed to go back to the tennis court or gym, the temptation is to attack the workout with the strength of a teenager. Remember, it’s not you, and it’s been a while.

Right, I’ve devised a four week fitness plan to help you feel fitter and healthier when the lockdown is near. It’s about getting mobile again, strengthening your core, and gradually building up some muscular endurance again.

If you’ve already exercised regularly, you can add an extra session if necessary. Also, when you’re starting from scratch you don’t feel like you need to progress from the first two weeks of the plan until you are ready.

You should expect it will take two weeks to develop the basics of mobility and core, as well as some very basic strengths, before the moderately higher intensity can be incorporated. It will then take another four weeks to see some great changes, so allow eight to ten weeks to get back to something normal, which should be in time for that Scotland vacation.

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