Heading back to the gym to regain your fitness? Get the most from your workouts and ditch a few pounds while keeping yourself safe. 

Do you feel a bit heavier during lockdown? You’re not alone. A survey commissioned by SlimFast revealed that two thirds of Brits surveyed piled on weight during lockdown, with more than 60 per cent of females saying they were fatter now than before the pandemic. One in ten said they had gained a stone.

However, now that the gyms are open again, you can resume your workout and make it tougher, so that you get good results. Here are some top tips to help you challenge your body and stay safe…

Make sure you stretch

Don’t skip the stretching, especially if you’re lifting weights. ‘Weightlifters should stretch daily,’ says Elise Joan, Beachbody On Demand Super Trainer and Barre programme creator. ‘It doesn’t need to be a chore. Just a handful of short stretches can do the trick.

Adapt an exercise to make it more challenging

if you normally do a dumbbell chest press exercise on a bench, perform the same exercise on a stability ball, so that your core and your body has to work harder to stabilise you while you are doing the exercise. Or if you normally do a tricep dip with your feet on the floor in front of you, try moving your feet further away from your body. This will make the exercise harder.

Work large muscle groups

working large muscle groups is a good way to challenge yourself. ‘There are a few functional exercises you should incorporate as a staple in your fitness regime,’ says Megan Davies, also a Beachbody on Demand Super Trainer. ‘These include squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, rows and overhead presses.

Try the Time Under Tension method

Time under tension’ is where you lift weights very slowly, therefore giving the muscles more time to be placed under stress and improving results. ‘Time under tension is a proven way to build muscle, which is especially good if you are limited to lifting lighter weights,’ adds Megan. ‘Muscles grow when you place them under tension for extended periods of time.’

Protect yourself

To stay safe, keep two metres away from others at all times, particularly when perspiring and breathing heavily at the gym. This might mean spotting is a bit tricky unless you’re at the gym with someone you live with – so only attempt weights that you’re comfortable with. Wipe equipment after use and make use of additional wipes and antibacterial sprays available. Try to use these before and after you use each piece of equipment to help protect yourself and others. Throw disposable towels or wipes straight in the bin after use and wash your hands after handling.