I know that wearing a mask is NOT ideal. In fact, it can be very uncomfortable for most people. I recently posted a status on Facebook giving some tips on how to maximize your work outs while wearing one. It got a lot more traction and engagement than I expected, which I wanted to share it as an article and go a little deeper into each tip to help. If these help you, please feel free to share this article with whoever it can benefit.
For those of you who must work out with a mask because it is mandatory in your state or you just feel more comfortable wearing one during these crazy times, here are some tips for you!
- This would be a great time to learn proper breathing. Exhaling on the concentric portion of the lift and inhale on the eccentric portion that is appropriate for the movement being done. For example, while performing an exercise like the squat, as you are in the lowering phase of this movement, this is ideal time to be inhaling. As you “push” out from the bottom position back to standing, you should be exhaling. Proper breathing is crucial regardless if you are wearing a mask or not. You will already be restricted in the amount of oxygen you are intaking with the mask, do not make it worse.
- Power and Strength movements will be a better bet for you during this time. TRUE power movements will allow more rest in between each set. I would also have my athletes stick to moderate loads and intensities on strength work. For an example here, when training movements like plyometrics, Olympic lifts, or ballistic training with medicine balls, it is crucial to get adequate rest in between sets so you are properly recovered for the next set’s intensity and ready to perform it at a high level. As far as strength, it is always a good choice to stick to the fundamentals. I would recommend sticking to reps of 5-8. This is considered a moderate load. It is not high intensity (heavy load), and it is not considered muscular endurance that would require more oxygen uptake, which in turn will be more difficult to breathe properly with a mask on.
- Avoid conditioning and circuits that are very taxing on the aerobic system that require a lot of oxygen intake. Similar to tip #2. This would not be the most ideal time to complete capacity circuits, where there is a set time and you need to complete as much work in the time period as possible. Please do not do that. If I had to choose any type of conditioning during this time for my athletes, it would more than likely be walking at an incline, or maybe jumping rope. Whatever exercise you can perform where your heart rate does not spike and stays steady, but at a very LOW intensity where breathing is comfortable.
- Don’t forget to hydrate during your work out even though you may not be sweating as much as usual. I know what you are going to say “Well how can we drink anything when we have a mask on?” More than likely, if the gym you are working out at wants to have an even bigger problem than they already do, they won’t allow their members to drink water. Okay, so that is that. However, it is important to recognize that although your work outs may be altered and you do not feel as thirsty as before does not mean you do not need to hydrate constantly. Far from the truth. You must continue to hydrate during your work out. Do not allow the mask to alter your behavior of hydrating because it covers your mouth. Make drinking water or your favorite sports drink a priority.
- Great time to focus on mobility and flexibility. This is something that most people forget in their work outs anyways, whether it is a part of their movement prep, active rest or cool down after their work out. Make this a priority. The goal is not to become incredibly flexible; the goal should be to be as flexible and mobile as you need to be perform your own life’s tasks at a high level. If you need exercise ideas here, be sure to download our app (Athlete Ready Global, it’s FREE) and search exercises. There is a library full of them.
- DON’T JUST GIVE UP MOVING. The easy thing here would be to just quit and wait until it is all over. The thing is, we do not know when that will be. Do you really want to start over completely if you gave up? If there is one thing you take away from this, please do not just stop all together, even if you decide to work out at home. There is nothing wrong with being adaptable but there is everything wrong with quitting.
Remember that is temporary. Control what you can control. There are still plenty of ways to get better. Again, if this article can help someone you care about, please share it with them! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this!
Jared Saavedra, MS, CSCS, PES, CPT
Founder, Athlete Ready Global