How To Return To The Gym From A Long Layoff Without Missing A Beat

Has your ‘rest week’ from the gym turned into a rest month or longer? Don’t feel bad; we’ve all had instances where we meant well and give our bodies a few extra days off to recover and have that turn into a 30-day party with booze and shit food. But we got your backs so get your ass off the window ledge and pack the gym bag.

First things first – if you had an extended period (more than a month) off from the gym, you have to start off real slowly and that means to concentrate on your diet and cardio before trying to break your one rep max on the bench press. All of that shit will come back to you eventually (muscle has memory…sort of) but you need to condition your body and mind before falling flat on your face.

The worst thing that you can do is pick up right where you left off and although that may sound like stupid advice, it makes total sense when it comes to something that will make your body sore as hell until you’re used to it again. So if you were squatting 315 pounds on your last set before the unexpected leave of absence, work your way back up to three wheels a side and not jump right back into the deep end of the pool.

So let’s say you had six weeks off and you are back at the gym at one hundred percent (no injuries). What you should do is a lot of cardio and bodyweight movements while eating a clean diet for at least a week. After that time, you will begin feeling better about yourself and bring everything along at a pace that will be productive but not lead to burnout.

Once you get through that break-in period, hit the weights again but use an amount that you can handle 10 clean reps with per set. You have to shake off that rust and using bad form for a handful of reps will only invite a pulled muscle to put you back on the shelf.

Put your pride aside and get the most out of each rep and set. That will give you a great pump and you still need to get back into it psychologically. So trying to do a heavy weight and having to rack it without completing your set properly will weigh heavily on your psyche.

Many people overlook the importance of the mental aspect of working out and believe it’s all physical. That couldn’t be further from the truth; you can get so much more accomplished once you are ready upstairs to do something that you know will cause you pain.

And you should definitely continue the diet and cardio portion of your routine, as well. Give it a good three days a week doing different machines (treadmill, elliptical, Stair Master, etc.) and you’ll put your quest for the perfect physique into warp speed. The diet and cardio will lose and burn fat while the resistance portion (weight lifting) will add muscle. Isn’t that the objective?

The key is to limit those extended layoffs and staying healthy is key in accomplishing that. So be smart about your workouts and know your limitations. It doesn’t mean a damn thing what your workout partner can handle doing deadlifts; use the weight that works best for you.