At one time or another, even the most devoted person has had to put their workout program on the back burner. It happens. You have an illness, an injury or personal issues that prevent you from continuing your workout program. When it’s time to get back to the gym, you may be a bit nervous or even feel a little out of place. It’s almost like starting over, even if it has been only a few weeks. Taking it slow initially is the first recommendation. Only movie stars and professional athletes have a time frame to get bulked up fast. You’re better off taking it slowly at first.
Take baby steps at first.
The longer you’ve been away from workouts, the further back in your training you must go. A few weeks won’t require you to take giant steps back, but a few months is quite different. Don’t mentally refer to the point you were at when you last exercised. It has no relevance. Act like you’re a beginner and spend the first week taking it slow.
The amount of strength you lose depends on many things.
Lots of things affect how much strength, stamina and flexibility you lose. The amount of time you’re not working out, the reason you took time from the gym (was it for an injury? Illness? A demanding job?), your age, you diet, your fitness level and genetics. If you suffered from an illness or injury that required bed rest, you’ll have a harder time getting back into shape than someone who still was active, just not in the gym. The older you are, the slower you need to take it.
Keep the intensity low.
No matter what you think you’re capable of doing, do half of that, especially the first few days. If you find you aren’t getting too sore, beef it up a bit. No matter what amount of weight you lifted before you left, remember, your body has lost its conditioning and not only do the muscles need to adapt to training again, so do the connective tissues. If you quit working out after just a few months of training, you should probably restart your program where you did at first. The good news is that your progress will be far faster than it was initially.
- How you take care of yourself in your time off makes a huge difference. If you partied hardy, drinking and staying up late, while also eating junk and processed foods, you’ll have far more ground to cover than if you maintained a healthy diet.
- After just a few weeks of no exercise, you may lose as much as 15 percent of the strength and stamina you had before you quit. After three months, you could lose about 80% of the strength gains you made when working out.
- If you took time off because of an injury, work with a personal trainer to ensure you’re getting the best program to rebuild the muscles and avoid future injuries.
- Take it easy the first week. Don’t push yourself. It’s easy to get gung ho and want to make up for lost time, but it also could set you on the road to injury or at least, discouragement and some very painful muscles.