Injured? Been ill? Been travelling around the world for 6 months? Whatever the case, you have stopped training. You have lost a bunch of muscle, a bunch of strength, and gained a little fat from a few too many cold beers on the beach.
This can happen to us, and it might feel that right now you are at stage one in your fitness journey. But have no fear, you are not. If you are committed to getting back to the gym, and back to your previous healthy way of life, then here are the steps you can take.
Realize You Aren’t On Step One
Don’t wallow in your misery. You have not trained, you have eaten poorly, and your arms look like a 12 year old girl’s, stop crying about it! The important thing is that you are now going to get out of this rut. Also remember that your body will bounce back far quicker than you think. Your body will remember the former shape you were in.
When you first started training, it was a tough path since it was the first time you were travelling it. You needed to create new pathways in your brain, your central nervous system needed educating, and your muscles were required to work more than ever before. Now that you have been down that path once, the second time will be much easier. Don’t make the wrong assumption that your struggle will take just as much effort as before, it won’t, you will bounce back.
See Where You Are
Ok, so now is the time to survey the damage. If you have measurements then re measure and compare. If you have photographs, then take news ones and compare. This may seem like it is going to depress you, but it shouldn’t. Think instead that you now have an aim. You know what you are capable of, and you can aim for what you previously looked like before falling off the wagon.
This is where you create a goal, a specific goal. What do you want your body to look like, and in what time frame? Write it down in big sexy letters and stick it somewhere. Write it down everyday, and say it to yourself constantly. Now, you need a plan.
There are two things that you need to get into place to get back into the gym and shape. Your diet and your training. Get these planned out now.
This should be calculated, you need to get your macros sorted, and your calories. Think about your schedule, if it has changed, then find ways to fit in your good eating habits. This isn’t a complicated science, it just requires some thinking in advance. Write it all down and implement it right now. “The diet starts on Monday” is just going to slow your progress down.
This can be done in many ways. It depends on your style of training previously, but as a rule start out slow. You are not going to be able to jump right in where you left off, so plan to gradually escalate the intensity of your training over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. Let’s look at some sample training plans and ideas that you could implement into your rehabilitation back to gym life.
A) Full Body Weight Training 3 x Per Week
Taken from Elliot Hulse, video here. You will be training Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each time you will be doing a full body workout with the following template
• 3×10 reps on everything
• 1 – 1.5 minutes rest between sets
• Overhead Press Variation (e.g. military press, dumbbell shoulder press)
• Vertical pull variation (Pull up, chin up, lat pulldown)
• Horizontal push variation (e.g pushup, bench press, Dumbbell Bench press)
• Horizontal pull variation (e.g. Bent over row, Dumbbell Row)
• Optional extras include,
• Ab exercise (e.g. crunch, situp, leg raise)
• Arms (bicep curl, tricep extension)
This routine followed for 2 or 3 weeks will prepare your entire body for a more detailed weight training plan. For the duration of this program your number one priority is to make sure that your form on exercises is perfect. You are essentially teaching your body the weight training movements again, so do it correctly.
B) Bodybuilder Getting Back Into It Program
Here on bodybuilding.com is a program that will suit those who have taken some time off from their bodybuilding routine.
It is a two week program that hits all the body parts several times. The weights used are very light to begin with, and that is exactly the important part. Start with embarrassingly light weights, and focus on getting your muscles feeling the movement again. This will prep them for much heavier weights a few training sessions later. Check it out!
c) Take A 21 Or 30 Day Challenge
There are millions of challenges that you can find online. But this is a great way to give yourself some initial motivation. Since it can apply to any training style, we would recommend that you google a challenge in your desired field, or even better create your own!
The idea behind a challenge is very simple, pick one goal for 21 days and form some plan to get you there. Maybe your challenge is just to hit your calorie and macro target for 21 days and do some light training. Great, do it. If you are taking a training goal then just pick a simple challenge, for example, number of body weight squats you can perform, number of pushups/pullups.
Number of rounds of intense cycling for an HIT challenge. Anything will do for this challenge, it doesn’t have to be the most perfectly designed program, the reason for doing it is to get yourself back into the mode of setting goals and crushing them.
Final thoughts on falling of the wagon
Take some time after you have starting your journey restart training to think. It is important for you to isolate what exactly happened in routine that caused the big layoff. If you were ill, then there is nothing you could do. However, if you were travelling, or just being lazy, think about the next time you are in the situation, and how you can limit the damage, or maybe stop falling off the wagon entirely. Getting back into training is not difficult, it just requires some patience and discipline. Now get your ass to the gym!