How To Start Back In The Gym After A Layoff

I’m going to go over how to start back in the gym after a layoff. 

This is for those that haven’t been able to train at home or hit the gym due to COVID 19. So if that’s you, you don’t want to miss this!

Let’s get started!

coronavirus meme 1

A lot of you haven’t been able to train due to the pandemic we’re all experiencing right now. 

Gyms have been closed and not everybody has disposable income to afford a home gym.

Even a basic setup is gonna be 200 dollars or more depending on what you need. 

Because of this, many of you will be returning to your regular workouts soon and having time off from the gym is going to leave you in a detrained state. 

Luckily for you guys, this means you can train easy and build up your strength, musculature and work capacity without getting obnoxiously sore and doing 4 hour long workouts. 

This is due to a commonly known phenomenon in the body called muscle memory. 

Putting on new muscle is a much harder process than rebuilding old muscle. 

Because of this, when you get back to training after a layoff, your muscles tend to grow back to their previous size relatively quickly without much work. 

This is all thanks to muscle memory! Because of this process, you can get great results quickly without being forced to kill yourself in the gym. 

I’m gonna show you how you should train after taking time off so you don’t get incredibly sore and potentially injured as well! 

RELATED CONTENT  How Often Should You Go To The Gym?

Start Light

You can’t expect to train at the same weights and intensity that you were doing before. 

So no, going in and working up to a 1 rep max is not something I would recommend. 

This is a great way to get injured and prolong your rebuilding process further. 

Thats why starting with less weight than you were working with before and progressing slowly is so important. 

The faster you try to force progress, the faster plateaus and injuries will occur. 

Progress Sloowwwllllyyyy

Speaking of progress, progressing slowly is next up on our list today.

If you add a ton of weight from workout to workout, each rep is going to be a grind after awhile which is NOT the goal when coming back from a detrained state.

The slower you add weight, the longer you’ll be able to progress.

Everytime you add a bunch of weight quickly, your form is going to break down, you’re going to use more momentum, your joints are going to take a beating and you’ll get injured as time goes by.

Especially if you’re in a detrained state!

Definitely keep this in mind before going into the gym and ego lifting with your bros.
It’s not worth it.

Keep Intensity Low

Starting with low intensities and building up over time is definitely a good idea as well. 

Working closer to failure will cause much more muscle soreness than keeping reps in reserve. 

I recommend staying at least 2 reps away from failure and building your work capacity up slowly for the first 2-4 weeks. 

Performing lower rep sets of 5 for the main lifts and sets of 10 for assistance exercises is also a good idea as well. 

RELATED CONTENT  One Punch Man Workout To Be The #1 Hero!

This will allow you to build muscle by creating the necessary stimulus, focus on recovery and build work capacity. 

During this period of time, you should notice your strength slowly increase as well. 

Usually it takes around half of the time that you took time off to retunr to prior strength levels.

So if you were off for a month, it would only take around 2 weeks to return to your previous level of strength.

If you were off for 2 months, expect it to take at least 1 month and so on and so forth.

It also depends entirely on if you have a smart method of progressing while keeping one very important thing in mind…

Pay Attention To Recovery

Every time you train, think of it like digging a hole. The harder you train, the more volume you do, and the amount of training you do all contribute to digging this hole in your recovery.

If you train so hard that you don’t recover by the time your next session is, you’re not filling in that hole completely and unfortunately your recovery and progress will be stalled because of it.

This is why recovery is so important for building muscle mass and especially strength.

If you aren’t recovering, you’re simply digging a deeper hole that you can’t fill back up. Eventually, you’re going to have injuries from under recovering so make sure you pay attention to this!

Don’t go in the gym after months off and push for a 1 rep max with sketchy form due to untrained motor patterns.

RELATED CONTENT  Top 10 Tips On How To Find A Good Personal Trainer

And definitely don’t do 20 sets of legs your first day back in the gym!

Bottom line:

Start light, progress slow, keep intensity low, and pay attention to recovery.

The best way to do these is by working up to an easy set of 5 on your main lifts and pick weights for other assistance exercises you can do for a couple sets fo 10 without getting close to failure. 

If you’re super sore by the time you train a muscle group again, you pushed too hard. 

If you’re moderately sore but fully recovered by the next time you train a muscle group, you’re on the right track. 

If you didn’t get sore at all and it feels like you didn’t even train, you can probably push yourself a little harder. 

By progressing slowly, you can simply increase the weight by 2.5-5lbs per workout depending on what exercise you’re doing. 

Stay 2-3 reps away from failure to ensure you’re stimulating the muscle instead of annihilating them. 

And finally, if you aren’t recovered by your next training session with the same muscle groups, you’re pushing too hard. 

Recovery is the most important thing when it comes to building muscle and getting stronger. 

If you aren’t recovering you aren’t growing. Simple as that. 

Thank you all for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Until next time,

-Dante Redgrave



I'm a Strength Coach and Content Creator with freedom on my mind! Without strength training, I hate to think of where I would be without it. What kind of person I would be, what kind of shape I would be in. It scares me, and that's why every day is a new chance to better myself. Anybody that's interested I am taking online clients now! Just shoot me an email and know you won't find a better deal online or offline. Guaranteed:)

Leave a Comment