How to Return to Weight Lifting After A Long Layoff

You know if you’ve been off for a couple of months, it can be really difficult to get back into lifting heavy weights.

I have a similar story myself. I sustained a small injury, which kept me out of the gym for about a month, and then right after that, I did more than 2 months of very intensive traveling where I was going from city to city to city all over Europe, and I really didn’t have time to seek out gyms or lift weights.

Now I’m getting back into things even though during that 3 months, I lost a lot of muscle weights. I lost a lot of definition, and I really didn’t even feel like going back into the gym at all.

My mind was just screaming to me, “Don’t bother! It’s a lot of effort. You don’t feel like doing it.”

But I knew that’s something I have to do. Specially at my age, staying in shape is really, really critical. I was able to successfully get back into working out. I’ve been working out for the last 3 weeks pretty intensely now. I’m getting my weights back up. I’m getting that definition back.

So in this video, I’m going to share with you a couple of tips that I use to get back working out at the gym.

Step #1: Full Body Workouts

I’ll do my shoulders, my chest, my back, my triceps, my biceps, my legs, all in the same day. During this first phase, I’ll just do a couple of sets for each muscle. It’s just a very simple warm-up.

The idea is not to put any pressure on myself, not to be lifting a lot of weight at all, not to be doing full smashing the muscles.

It’s just to jolt my muscle memory, jolt my mind into, “Yes, you’re working out again! You might feel a lot of resistance, but we are walking to the gym and doing this, putting one step in front of the other, going through the motions, starting up that muscle memory how it feels like, starting up the memory of, ‘Okay, I’m supposed to do this. I’m supposed to this small action,” because actually lifting weights consists of hundreds of micro little actions that you have to remind yourself like just how to rock the weights, just going through the motion of walking to the gym, showing up, and so on and so forth. It’s just to jog your memory, get a little bit of momentum going.

Step #2: No Pressure Workouts

Then after those three or four workouts where you’re doing your entire body, then you start doing your normal workout routine, but what I do is I will do it with half the weights.

I typically bench maybe 220 on the bench press, doing 10 reps with that. So I’ll jump down to 100. I’ll bench 100. No pressure, going really easy on myself. I know that I am out of shape, and I’ve got to work myself back up. I got to step-by-step get back up to 220 and I’m just going to enjoy the process.

I’m also acknowledging that I’m feeling a lot of resistance. Even when I’m benching 100 pounds, which is less than half of what I would normally do if I was at the top of my game, my mind is saying, “You suck! You are so far back. You really don’t feel like doing this. You should just go home and rest.”

I know I’m feeling that resistance. I’m just going to push through it anyway. I’m going to be consistent. I’m going to persevere. I’m not thinking about the end goal. I’ll just try to enjoy the process.

I know I suck but I’m completely okay with that. So I will then do a bunch of workouts where I am really far behind, and I’ll gradually increase the amount of weight no pressure, no rush.

But the key to making this work is being consistent, going consistently because if you go one day then skip two days, go another day, skip another day, you’re not consistent, it will take forever to get back into things and that can feel really discouraging.

You’re not feeling like you’re making any progress so it’s really important during this first month of getting back into things to be ultra consistent and make it a priority.

Pro Tip: Track Your Progress

The other tip I have for you is that you want to be writing everything down. You want to be writing down every set, how many reps you did, the weight you did. During those first three or four full body workouts those are just complete warm-up, I don’t write those down. I don’t put those in a logbook, but in my log sheet, as soon as I start doing regular workouts, I’ll write it down.

Even if I’m bench-pressing 100, which is half of what I did before, I will write down every weight, every set because I want to see progress.

What happens if I don’t write in the logbook, I kind of just float. I just float along. I don’t make progress nearly as fast. I tend to just do the same amount of weights every time I go. I’m not making progress. I get discouraged.

But when I write it down on a logbook, I see exactly how I’m making progress. I also know exactly how much to push myself.

I know that I can push myself 2 percent or 5 percent because I can see what I did last time. It’s there. It’s scientific. I know that I can just myself just a little bit, just a little bit out of my comfort zone, just a tiny bit. That way, I’m always making progress on every workout.

That’s what keeps me motivated. That’s what keeps me going back.

I think as men, we are motivated by seeing concrete progress. When we don’t see that concrete progress, we lose our motivation. It’s like if you’re playing a video game, you want to make a little bit of progress every time. Video games that are too hard where you can’t make any progress, you get bored of too easily.

You want to be writing everything down on a logbook. If you don’t write everything down on a logbook, again it’s really easy to get lost. I think it’s really easy to lose motivation.

It’s key that writing everything in your log sheet or your logbook is key to getting back into lifting weights if you’ve been off for a while.

Those are my quick tips for getting back into lifting. Nothing fancy, nothing that’s a total revelation there. It’s just simple rules that you absolutely want to follow, simple rules that if you don’t follow, you’re probably not going to succeed.

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