Returning to the Gym - Part I
Gyms opened up here in London, Ontario last week. Although I did have a garage gym in Toronto that I've been using while not at school, I had to live gym-free for a couple weeks when I went back to London for school before gyms opened.
Returning to training after time off can be frustrating. Here are some tips to consider when planning your comeback:
🔴 Time away from training
I only took about 2 weeks off from training, while others may not have touched a weight in months or longer. These will require different approaches. Taking a week off might just require repeating the previous week's workouts. Anything longer will require a more thoughtful approach. The longer the time off, the longer it will take to return to the previous level.
The exercises you choose can have a big impact on your return to training, especially with regards to soreness. Exercises such as squats and bench press have a large eccentric (stretching) component. These will make you very sore if you overdo it, which can impact your training frequency. They certainly should be programmed into your workouts, but be smart about volume and intensity.
Along with exercise selection, volume (sets and reps) can affect your level of soreness. Prior to my break in training, I did 5×5 squats weekly, which caused minimal soreness because I was adapted to that stress. My first workout back I did 1×5 and was sore. That was after just 2 weeks off. There's plenty of time to add volume later.
Taking under a week off will generally not require much of a reduction in weight on the bar, certainly not more than 10 lbs. More than that might require ~5% reduction per week, with some variation depending on the person. If you've been off for more than 2 months, you'll probably need to treat your return as if it were your first workout. Remember, there will always be time to add weight later. Don't risk getting injured by pushing too hard on your first day.