Training is relatively straightforward:
Be consistent, push yourself enough, give your body time to recover, and aim for steady improvements.
But what if you have to take a break from training? What if something takes you out of the gym for a few weeks or months?
For example, many who got Covid are forced to be out of the gym for weeks. What should people in such a situation do? How should they approach their return?
While no two cases are the same, there are some guidelines we can follow to keep others safe and regain lost progress in no time. Let’s discuss.
When You Should Go Back
You love training. It makes you feel great, provides a sense of progression, and serves as a great way to blow off steam. So, you’re probably itching to get back to the gym as soon as possible. The question is, should you?
While it might be tempting, it’s best to listen to your doctor and avoid rushing back to training. In the case of Covid, wait for all symptoms to subside because you can otherwise spread germs and get someone else sick. Plus, you won’t be able to train well if you don’t feel okay, so take the time to recover.
How to Get Back to Training
One of the first things you’ll notice when you step foot in the gym is that you’ll feel weaker and less capable than before. Don’t panic because this is entirely normal.
For one, you’ve had to deal with a problem, and you haven’t paid as much attention to your nutrition, hydration, or other positive habits. Second, not training for a while causes you to lose some of the training adaptations you’ve worked so hard to make.
This period can be disheartening, but don’t worry. It’s easier to regain old progress because of factors like muscle memory, skill, and re-establishing habits. The problem is, there is no universal formula for what you should do on your road to recovery. Everyone is different, and what might work well for one person could be terrible for another.
The best advice I can give you is this:
Get back to your training and focus on consistency instead of perfection or intensity. Do your workout, push yourself a bit, and call it a day. Come back a couple of days later, repeat, and leave.
The process can certainly be tedious, but it can also be rewarding and motivating. Sure, you’re not making new progress, but you are regaining what you’ve previously lost. With each workout, you can see yourself getting back to your old form, which is still a win.
Let’s go over a practical example of a recovery workout for gym-goers. Let’s say that one of your workouts looked like this:
Flat bench press - 4 sets with 225 lbs for 10
Incline dumbbell press - 3 sets with 75-lb dumbbells for 12
Chest dips - 3 sets for 15 to 20 reps
Cable rope tricep extension - 3 sets with 85 lbs for 12 to 15 reps
You can maintain the same structure but cut the training volume and intensity in half and build up from there:
Flat bench press - 2 sets with 135 lbs for 10
Incline dumbbell press - 2 sets with 45-lb dumbbells for 12
Chest dips - 2 sets for 5 to 8 reps
Cable rope tricep extension - 2 sets with 55 lbs for 12 to 15 reps
Most importantly, listen to your body and don’t push yourself to your limits initially. Work within your capabilities and gradually build up the intensity and effort.