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Getting Back on Track After Contracting Covid-19 (A Bodybuilder’s Guide)

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           Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (Covid-19) is considered to be one of the most dangerous viral infections to affect mankind. The disease has left an ugly scar in the world of sports that may take decades to erase. Towards the end of 2020, the virus had brought the entire world to a standstill. Every sport was curtailed and participants and respective management were confined to their homes in worldwide lockdowns of biblical proportions. The level of inconvenience was unprecedented in recent history and Covid-19 seems to have changed our world forever. Whether you’ve been infected or not, everyone has been affected in some way. Back on Track After Covid-19 is not very difficult.

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               Sportsmen and women, bodybuilders included, had their careers hanging in the balance, especially those who contracted Covid. Consequently, all were asked or forced to train from home. Everyone had to improvise to keep their form and trust me, it came with many sacrifices. Fast-forward to the beginning of 2021, reality started hitting hard and we decided the virus won’t continue holding us at 00000ransom. Normalcy started returning albeit with difficulty. Restrictions were relaxed gradually and we’re now halfway towards complete normalcy. However, just like how people struggled to adapt to the new normal, we’re having a rough time getting back on track. Humans are incredible creatures; we can always adapt to any change as long as the conditions can be endured.

            Here is how bodybuilders who have contracted Covid-19 can get up on their feet again and resume their careers. Strong!

Get Medical Clearance

              Ensuring you're free from the virus is the first step towards resuming your career as a bodybuilder. However, some scary discoveries continue to be made about this virus. Several recovered patients have continued to experience certain complications even after testing negative for Covid-19. These include lungs and other organs that don't work in their normal capacity. As a bodybuilder who wants a successful career, this discovery could be quite devastating. Furthermore, some people report to have died suddenly death days or weeks after making a full recovery. It is for this reason that you must get medical clearance from the doctor before resuming any bodybuilding activity. These are the tests you should undergo first to determine whether you’re fit to resume training after recovering from Covid.

Cardiovascular Evaluation

               Covid-related sudden deaths have been reported among athletes since the pandemic began. Sudden death is caused by a condition known as myocarditis. Recovered patients may have had an injury in their cardiovascular system which may cause death, eventually. A cardiovascular evaluation by a professional medical practitioner will reveal whether the person is fit to resume training and the kinds of exercises they should perform. Tests performed to determine cardiovascular fitness include heart sounds, chamber dilations, pressure at lower extremities, and more. If any of these cardiovascular activities are found to be below or above normal, then it means the athlete is not fit enough to resume full training.

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             Additionally, the doctor will prescribe appropriate medication and suggest other ways to help you make full recovery. It is also important to note that Covid-19 affects people differently. People who have had severe cases of the disease are more likely to experience complications after testing negative. Mild cases, on the other hand, don’t come with any additional complications post-recovery.

Hypertensive Evaluation and Medication

               If it is determined by a medical doctor that you’re susceptible to hypertension post-Covid, then you need to take antihypertensive drugs. These drugs are helpful because they help stabilize blood sugar levels among recovering patients. However, medication such as renin-angiotensin-aldosterone inhibitors may cause adverse side effects. In such a case, you should discontinue the medication and concentrate on other non-medical recovery methods, but only if the effects are severe.

Pulmonary Evaluation

              Coronavirus affects the lungs more than any other organ in the human body. That means the lungs take longer to recover and some people report to have permanent lung damage. Therefore, a pulmonary evaluation is essential to determine the extent of damage to the lungs if any. Acute respiratory syndrome, a condition seen in recovered Covid patients, may impact a bodybuilder’s career negatively if not detected. A lung examination by a qualified physician should indicate if you’re lungs are still in distress. The following findings should prompt additional more examination on your respiratory system:

  • Crackles
  • Dullness to percussion
  • Egophony
  • Dyspnea
  • Any other signs of respiratory failure

Not that the lungs play a crucial role in bodybuilding training and any complication may end your career.

Return to Training Progression

           Once the evaluation of various organs and systems is complete, it is now time to resume training. You should know that training will be progressive; you won’t start from where you left. Being a new disease, clinicians and sports managers have not come up with clear guidelines on how to resume training after infection. However, we know that the body may not work in full capacity, hence the need to start with light exercises.

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Stage 1: Low-Intensity Exercises

            A body that has been battling Covid-19 needs time to make a full natural recovery. Light exercises are part of that recovery but will only work under one condition – must be slow. In the first week of training after testing negative, ensure to do the following only:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Simple stretches

          Do this for 10-15 minutes every day. It should be enough to prepare your body for what is coming in the second week.

            In the second week of training, increase the pace of walking and jogging. Also, double the time so you now do 20-30 minutes of exercising every day. If you feel strong enough to do more stretches, go ahead. Most importantly, monitor how your body is responding to the exercises and make necessary adjustments. Please note that the rate of recovery differs in people so you should strictly do everything at your pace. Keep doing exercises for as long as you feel comfortable and don’t rush to perform strenuous workouts yet.

Stage 2: Moderate Activity

           This is the stage where you start toying around with your training equipment. Technically, no serious training is taking place, just you checking out your stuff. Pick that barbell and feel the weight. How does using the treadmill feel now compared to the pre-Covid period?? Grab that rope and do a couple of skips then toss it over.

           Stage 2 is when to maximize the low-intensity exercises you did in the first week of training. Perform more stretches and cover a bigger distance in running or jogging. By now you should be doing up to two hours of training every day of the week. It will prepare you adequately for what is coming in stage 3.

Stage 3: High-Intensity Exercises

             Once you have bonded with the equipment, it is now time to do some serious training. At this point, you're recovered completely and are hungry for it. However, you must be sure that your body can endure intense training before hitting the gym. Exercises in this stage should involve every gym equipment and workout you’re used to. These include bench-presses, treadmills, barbells, push-ups, among others. High-intensity exercises are necessary to compensate for losses in terms of muscle mass and general form. You may not be able to resume normal training if the body is not returned to its normal state before the pandemic struck.

Stage 4: Resumption of Normal Training

             The body is now ready to resume normal training after successfully going through stages 1, 2, and 3. Stage 4 is where you go back and pick where you left. This stage should begin in the second month of training and involve full play. Depending on the kind of exercises, you can always increase the pace and do longer to compensate for lost time.

The table below summarizes various types of activities and planning in every stage.

Stage Activity Level Objective Duration Exercises Involved
Stage 1 Rest & Low Intensity ·       Facilitate full recovery

·       Introduce the body to training

10-15 minutes Jogging

Walking

Simple stretches

Stage 2 Moderate Training Prepare the body for high-intensity workouts 20-30 minutes 2-3 km run or jog

Stationary bicycle ride

Less than 50% weight training

Light resistance training

 

Stage 3 High-Intensity Training Restore and develop endurance for full play training 2-3 hours Intense aerobic workouts

At least 4 km run/jog

Stationary bicycle at up to 140 watts

Full bodyweight training

Advanced resistance exercises

Stage 4 Normal training Standard fitness and return to normal training As determined by yourself or your trainer Pre-Covid (normal) training

Conclusion

              Training and bodybuilding in general after contracting Covid-19 may not be a walk in the park. One must prepare psychologically and mentally as physically before hitting the gym. The power of a positive mind is the greatest weapon you have against this virus. Waking up every day and deciding that it won't change your life for the worse is the first step towards a comeback. But even as you resume training, be careful not to strain the already-compromised body. Most importantly, ensure a well-balanced diet and appropriate because it goes a long way in ensuring you resume training fast. Good luck!

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