Personal trainer and nutrition coach Ben Herbert has some tips on returning to the gym and getting the right results.

A LOT of people are excited but also sceptical about returning to the gym.

The last few months have been strange and unsettling for us all and that's why I'd like to use this column to focus on mental health.

This is something much bigger and more important than general gym sessions.

If you look after your mental health and be in a good headspace, you can achieve whatever goals you have in mind.

These are my top tips on how to look after your mental health and the first concerns sleep.

I see so many people neglect sleep and when that happens, we generally lose routine.

We lose focus, feel lazy and, sometimes, lost.

Our mind and thoughts start to wander, which can cause a negative pattern.

So you need seven to nine hours and make sure the quality of sleep is there, too.

Reduce TV and phone light before bed, so you can settle into a good headspace and have a clear mind before settling down.

Reduce caffeine, which plays a huge role in making you alert and gives you the feeling of being ‘alive’.

Try to opt for no caffeine after 2pm.

If we consume caffeine in the late afternoon and evening, it takes around five to six hours for just 50 per cent of it to wear off.

This, obviously, is going to keep you awake for longer and reduce the quality of your sleep.

Secondly, it’s completely acceptable to not feel OK.

Please reach out for help from family, friends or someone who you feel you can talk to.

We are humans and not perfect.

Journal your thoughts and reach out to people who can help or are happy to listen.

Sharing your thoughts on paper or voicing them out loud can help clear your mind and provide your mind with clarity.

We're now moving back into the gym and the above also plays a massive role.

When looking at mental health, there's evidence that doing the exercise you enjoy can help.

But when looking to go back to the gym, don't apply too much pressure in terms of getting back to your best instantly.

Take baby steps.

You may not be at your strongest as you haven’t been underneath the weight you usually are when in the gym.

After all, they’ve been closed for four months or more.

So don’t go setting crazy goals.

Look at your technique and look at where you are on a scale of one to ten in the workout.

Being at a five or six in the first few sessions is fine.

By being a five or six, we get a feel for where our strength and fitness is at.

It also reduces the chance of injury.

No goal has ever been hit by having poor habits.

Be clear on what goals you have in mind, then step back and map out what needs to be done.

Take weight loss, for example. What do you need to do to get there?

Sleep well, for the reasons mentioned above, and think carefully about your nutrition.

There’s no such thing as bad and good food.

Different food options deliver different qualities and we need a balance of food in our diet to keep it enjoyable and not overly restrictive.

You’ll need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, with more energy going out than in.

Opt for a small calorie deficit as going too big straight away can cause problems.

Consider your daily step count and think carefully how you train.

Weight training is ideal as it has huge benefits, giving you strength but also helping prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

We only burn ten per cent of our calories from doing exercise so I feel we should do more weight training with correct form to help with other areas of health and physique.

Behaviour changes and habits are the key driver to hitting your goals.

Without having these in place, it’s going to be hard to get to your goal.

So if you want to reach a certain goal, fat loss for example, you’ll need to do certain things differently.

One final thought is for ladies, as your training and nutrition should tie in with your menstrual cycle.

By periodising it, you’re going to see better adherence to training and your nutrition.

You’ll see a better quality of training and a more enjoyable process.

I hope I've made some helpful points about mental and physical health.

I've said very little about training in the gym or outdoors, which may seem weird from a personal trainer.

However, training plays such a small role in terms of results.

It’s extremely helpful but if we get the other areas in place, we're going to find the process of training easier and see greater results in terms of reaching our goals.

If you’d like further information or to discuss about any topics please just email me at