Weight Training After the Lockdown
Updated: Mar 5
As gyms throughout New Zealand re-open this week after closing their doors 7 weeks ago, lifters will be overly eager to dive back into training, no doubt full noise. However, for those that have had minimal to no training with a barbell over the past 7 weeks, you may want to think twice before testing your maxes to “see where you’re at”.
The following article will provide a somewhat experience, somewhat science-based (sans references) take on some considerations for returning to powerlifting training.
North Shore Barbell is opening for the first time in 7 weeks. Thankfully many of our gym members have had access to equipment throughout the lockdown.
Firstly, if you haven’t had access to a barbell or anything of the like over the lockdown period then as cliche as it may sound this is undoubtedly an opportunity for you to get much stronger than before. Time off, although daunting may not be as detrimental as you may think, yes your skill retention will likely diminish and things will feel foreign, but strength at the muscular level should not have taken too much of a hit.
So - what does that mean exactly for training? Well, it means that although your execution in the first few sessions may feel off, your strength will come back and likely reasonably fast. Couple this rate of progression with the eagerness to lift heavy s**t after not being able to do so for 7 weeks and you have yourself an interesting scenario. So with that in consideration, there are a few things you can factor into how you approach your training.
In spite of taking 7 weeks of heavy barbell training, it's likely your strength will come back fast.
As boring as it is, unfortunately, it may pay off in the long run to have injury prevention at the forefront of your training approach as you get back into training. Before you think it, no, not injury prevention in the sense of “pre-hab” or recovery based strategies, a far more efficacious strategy - load management.
When referring to load management it simply means how much work you are doing, which can be quantified in many ways but the 4 most important variables I like to consider for powerlifting are sets, reps, load, and RPE. So, at any given time those variables contribute to your overall “training load”. Now, to extrapolate a concept predominantly researched within field and team-based sports, something that may be an important consideration when trying to undertake a successful comeback is your acute: chronic workload ratio (ACWR).
Now, to put it simply ACWR is essentially the consideration of your short term training load (acute workload) compared to your longer-term training load (chronic workload). There is some research to suggest that potentially a significantly higher acute training load in comparison to your chronic workload may increase your chance of injury (you can read more on this here). This concept is shown below from Gabbet (2016):
Pushing things too early in your return may result in injury.
So what does this mean exactly? Well firstly, we need to consider that next to none of the data on ACWR is in barbell sports let alone powerlfiting, therefore it’s application in the sport is potentially limited. However, there is an opportunity to take the concept of ACWR and apply it to your training. So I’ll do my best to try and outline some ways you may be able to apply this to your “post-lockdown” programme.