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Returning to the Gym? Build Back Movement and Weight Slowly With These Three Keys

Pay more attention to your strength training when you return to the gym and slowly rebuild your movement, weights, and intensity.

Three Keys to Return to the Gym After Time Off

Here are the keys for a successful strength training plan to return to the gym:

  1. Whether you kept up your strength training or just stopped will determine the frequency and intensity of your return workouts. 
  2. Rebuild slowly. For example, if you were doing heavy squats, start with goblet squats to build good movement patterns first. 
  3. For the first three weeks, keep the intensity mild to moderate with two sets of easy 10 to 12 repetitions.

When you return to the gym after a layoff, you’ll need to take your time rebuilding your strength. 

Sometimes we need to take breaks from our workout routines at the gym, whether it’s due to the pandemic, life stress, or an injury. 

If you try to come back with the same routine and the same weights, you’re courting disaster. 

At best, you won’t be able to walk the next couple of days because you’re so sore. 

At worst, you’ll get hurt.

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Strength Training For Everyday Athletes

Prior to the pandemic, my strength trainingin the gym was lifting heavy things to build overall strength that I could tap for cycling and running endurance.

I was deadlifting with a hex bar, using dumbbells for shoulder, back, and chest work, and doing a lot of kettlebell work, especially swings. 

And I was seeing results: I was able to power up hills more easily, and I had more endurance. 

And when our gym closed for the pandemic, I used bodyweight work and weights at home to continue my strength work. 

Three Keys for Returning to the Gym After Time Off

Here are the keys for a successful strength training plan to return to the gym:

  1. Decide for yourself how active you’ve been since not going to the gym. Whether you kept up your strength training or just stopped will determine the frequency and intensity of your return workouts. 
  2. Start with relatively easy weights and movement. Build slowly. For example, if you were doing heavy squats, start with goblet squats to build good movement patterns first. 
  3. For the first two to three weeks, keep the intensity mild to moderate. Keep more in the tank than you would normally to avoid muscle soreness the next day. Remember, if you’re so sore the next day, you reach for ibuprofen, you went too deep. Your body will take longer to recover, and you will lose whatever adaptation you’ve gained.

Pay Attention in Your Return to the Gym

I had to pay more attention when I was able to return to the gym. 

I knew that if I tried to go back to pre-pandemic weights, I would be unable to walk the next day! 

I started doing goblet squats and some easy kettlebell work. 

For the first three weeks, I used weights I could comfortably do without stress. 

I also did as much movement variety as I could, including twists and side to side lunges. 

I lifted a lot according to feel. 

That meant more paying attention to my target muscles than I typically would. 

For example, in doing goblet squats, focus on your form and movement capacity. 

Goblet squats allow you to do a more complete squat, bringing your hips closer to the ground. 

Did You Work Out During Your Time Off?

How often and how intense you should work out in your return to the gym depends on how active you were during the time off.

The key is to start with lighter than usual weight and work out with less than usual intensity. 

Start with a weight thats fairly light. 

If you get to an easy 13-15 reps without difficulty, increase the weight

If you gave up during your time off and ate potato chips, your return needs to be slow and gradual. 

Start with two easy days of strength training with bodyweight or light weights. 

If you were working out regularly, with strength training and regular endurance work, you’ll be able to jump into your strength training plan a little more quickly.

Try three days a week, still with light to moderate weights and intensity. 

Give Yourself Time to Rebuild Your Strength as You Return to the Gym

There’s no rush to get back to your previous strength training plan. 

You can’t speed up your body’s adaptation to training stress.

You can, though, stress your body too much, resulting in a lower immunity and really sore muscles.

Build up your intensity, frequency, and weight slowly and steadily as you return to the gym.

I said it earlier, and I’ll repeat it: If you’re so sore, you reach for the ibuprofen, you went too hard. 

And if you’re that sore, your muscles need more time to recover, and that means you lose any gains you had. 

Still Curious About What You Can Achieve? 

Contact me or sign up for Virtual Coffee so we can discuss your goals!

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Contact me to ask questions and talk about making your endurance training more effective. 

Three Keys to Return to the Gym After Time Off

Here are the keys for a successful strength training plan to return to the gym:

  1. Whether you kept up your strength training or just stopped will determine the frequency and intensity of your return workouts. 
  2. Rebuild slowly. For example, if you were doing heavy squats,start with goblet squats to build good movement patterns first. 
  3. For the first three weeks, keep the intensity mild to moderate with two sets of easy 10 to 12 repetitions.
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