• Coach Dean Hammond

5 Top Tips when getting back to business in the Gym!

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

It's been a week since the lockdown was lifted on the use of gyms in the UK and it's clear to see the excitement in many peoples faces as they walk through the golden gates and into their lifting paradise...

This is where it's crucial we make the right choices as we head to the squat racks, lifting platforms or take our place in our 2m x 2m box on the CrossFit floor!!!


Let that sink in for a moment........

Deconditioning happens at a rapid rate of knots and giving the fact we have spent the last 5 months in lockdown without the use of a heavy barbell or complex movements, reconditioning the body back to a pre covid state is going to take a lot longer than you think.

You will feel tighter, breathing will feel heavier and your joints are going to take some time getting used to the new levels of threshold you reach within your workouts.... but there are some simple things we can put in place to ensure we progress back into our routines with a new lease of life...

1. Warm-Up with intent and Prep for the Movements you'll be doing

You need to take time to physically and mentally prepare the body for every session you...... This shouldn't be new to you but now more than ever we must ensure we're following a comprehensive warm-up protocol as part of your workout!

Take some time and digest the RAMP framework which is a simple and easy framework that you can use in every session.

R = Raise - Start with some low-intensity mono-structural work that targets the movement patterns you're likely to come up against in your workout work. This should be very basic in its design and aim to increase blood flow, gradually increase the heart rate (where necessary) and improve joint viscosity.

A + M = Activate + Mobilise - For me personally I use this as an opportunity to target key muscle groups that will be used in my session such as banded drills, activation exercises, rotator cuff and prehab movements alike. Ideally taking your body through a full Range of Movement in preparation for the major elements of your session.

P = Potentiate - This is where you actively look to improve the mechanics of the movements, intensity and the effectiveness of our lifts. Take squats for example; a great potentiation sequence may include increasing the loads up to your working set of the day.

2. Autoregulate for the first month!

This is a great opportunity to refine the intensity of your training and gives you a quick and easy check pace on whether you’re pushing the intensity too hard to soon. You can do this very easily by using something called the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale.

This is how it’s used….

If the number 0 represents nothing physical (basically laying on the floor or sitting down) and the number 10 represents the hardest session ever (lungs on fire, the pool of sweat on the floor, legs like jelly), then we need to pitch each session on the right part of the scale.

It will do you NO favours hitting an RPE between 8-10 every session. This is where you’ll burnout, increase the risk or likelihood injury and not allow the body enough time to adapt and recover.


We all love going to the gym to push ourselves, work hard on developing our weaknesses and try new things but most of us do this because we enjoy it – our livelihood doesn’t depend on it. Sometimes all we need is some steady activity to get us up and moving so take your time and listen to your body.

3. Don’t hit 100% too soon.

For most of us, we’ll feel like we’ve got our mojo back and we’re ready to hit those big numbers after 2 weeks. If this is you and you’ve somewhat earnt the right to progress in volume and load then, by all means, be my guest.

A lot of us haven’t had access to squats racks and excess weight, so this is where we need to use that RPE scale and not chase those percentages that you were hitting before. 90% will feel very different now than compared to the start of 2020 so build your percentages progressively over the first month and take each day as it comes.

The last thing you want to do is place too much stress on your body too soon, not allow it the time to adapt to the stimulus you’re putting on it and walk out the gym at the end of august with all sorts of niggles and pains.

4. Don’t change everything all at once.

I love the saying…………….“Pick the lowest hanging fruits”

Start with small changes to your routine as you come out of lockdown. Yes, we are all excited but don’t let that take over your rational thinking and start committing to 100 different programs with 1000’s of different exercises or change everything you’re doing to become a fully-fledged CrossFit enthusiast.

Pick some realistic short-term targets that you can start driving toward every single week if that includes weight loss then start with dropping a few pounds in the first couple of weeks if it's dialling in your clean and jerk and breaking that milestone you were chasing for such a long time…..

Just pick some very attainable targets and constantly adjust them – if you find yourself chasing numbers or trying to follow the same thing that an athlete is doing you’ll overwhelm yourself and end up right back to square 1. This is a great opportunity to redefine how you see the process and journey rather than chasing little numbers that don’t define you as a person.

5. Redefine Your Mindset.

Perhaps the most important one of all!!!

We’ve managed to go without a gym for 5 months!!

I know It sounds crazy.

But how many of you have made some meaningful connections with your family, loved ones and children. This has been such an amazing experience for me personally and an opportunity for my wife and me to spend time together training in the garage gym or even head out for 2-3 hour family walks.

We all lead busy lives and post COVID is going to be no different. You’ve spent the last 5 months exploring new ways to keep yourself fit, get into shape and enjoy great little ways to train – it doesn’t necessarily need to involve a barbell, fixed machines or dumbbells (as great as they are).

Look at ways you can incorporate activity into your routine and normal day. Maybe it can include a morning walk or end of workout bodyweight circuit (not every day), but on the odd occasion when life is really busy what can you do too from the comfort of your own home and area you live in?

Please SHARE this far and wide and if you're looking for more information or guidance on how to get started back in the gym check out my profile below:

Alternatively, get in touch with any of the team at Chat Sh*t Get Fit. Leave a comment on this post or drop us an email and we will be happy to help

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