Written By Sithon Sok, the Lead Physiotherapist at Physio Rehab Group

Before we start, did you know that up to two weeks of inactivity can result in a 30% loss of strength[1]? That’s right! If you’ve been a little less active lately, it might pay to start back slowly as you quite possibly may have lost some muscle conditioning. Don’t despair. It only takes a little bit of movement before feeling results again; as little as a 10% increase in movement can make a world of difference[2].

Here are our top tips on keeping safe at the gym post-lockdown:

1. Get a good night's rest

Sleep plays a vital role in your health and wellbeing. A good night’s rest supports muscle repair, brain function, and other activities essential to our wellbeing. Research suggests poor sleep can increase the risk of sports injury[3]. For a successful night's sleep, we recommend limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake, reducing blue light exposure before bedtime (found in your TV, tablet and smartphone), and waking up and going to bed at the same time every day.

2. Do less at the beginning

Begin with doing less than what you think you are capable of. It’s much safer to realise you can do more in the next workout than realising you did too much and overworked yourself!

3. Build up slowly

Everyone’s body adapts to exercise at different rates, so build up slowly. Each time you feel you’re ready to add to your workout, whether it be another weight, distance or speed, add on by a small amount. Choose one thing to focus on and increase by no more than 10%. For example, if you’re lifting 10kgs, next time, add on an additional 1kg. Small increases can bring better results and keep you safer from causing injury.

For weight lifting, start at a lower resistance and focus on increasing the reps first before adding on weight. Starting at a weight that’s too heavy can result in compensatory patterns where your strong muscles get stronger, but your weak muscles remain neglected. Repetition is more important than the weight itself for improving your strength and results in a safer workout[4]. Once you feel ready, add on a small amount of weight.

4. Listen to your body

That old saying, “no pain, no gain”, is not a blanket rule in training. Pain can come up differently for everyone. Exercise can cause a little discomfort and stress, but it should not be painful. If you feel pain during or after your workout, take a rest and incorporate some gentle movement and stretching. If it’s more pain than usual, talk to a health professional to check for any injury. You know your body best so listen carefully.

We hope you find these tips helpful, and you’re now on your way to a successful workout. If you’re unsure about doing a particular exercise or experiencing any discomfort, talk to a personal trainer or physiotherapist in your local fitness club. At Physio Rehab Group (PRG), we have a team of experienced physios who can provide injury-prevention advice and treat existing injuries. Contact our friendly team today to book an appointment.

To make an appointment, visit our website or email info@physiorehabgroup.co.nz

About Physio Rehab Group (PRG)

PRG is a group of over 100 physiotherapists with a mission to serve their communities and help people to live their best lives. Habit Health has joined forces with PRG to help support their mission of altogether better health for our communities.

Disclaimer: Injuries are not always 100% preventable. This advice serves as a guide to support your training but is not a guarantee that you won’t experience injury. You know your body best, so our advice is to listen to your body first and seek advice from a clinician when necessary.


[1] Vigelso, A., Gram, M., Wiuff, C., Andersen, J. L., Helge, J. W., & Dela, F. (2015). Six weeks' aerobic retraining after two weeks' immobilization restores leg lean mass and aerobic capacity but does not fully rehabilitate leg strength in young and older men. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

[2] Gabbett, T. J. (2020). How Much? How Fast? How Soon? Three Simple Concepts for Progressing Training Loads to Minimize Injury Risk and Enhance Performance. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 536-586.

[3] Johnston, R., Cahalan, R., Bonnett, L., Maguire, M., Glasgow, P., Madigan, S., . . . Comyns, T. (2019). General health complaints and sleep associated with new injury within an endurance sporting population: A prospective study. Journal of Science and Medicine Sport, 252-257.

[4] Gabriel, D. A., Kamen, G., & Frost, G. (2006). Neural Adaptations to Resistive Exercise. Sports Medicine, 133-149.