So you’ve taken time off. Perhaps work got busy. Maybe you had a new baby. Or, you may have just lost steam going forward and couldn’t keep up with your bodybuilding workout program.
Whatever the case, time has passed and you have now decided that you would like to get back on the bandwagon and start hitting the workout regimen schedule once again.
This said, what you cannot do is just pick right back up where you left off. If it was a week away, fine – go for it.
You likely won’t see much of a difference either.
But, if you’ve had a month or more off from your workout program, you can note one thing: you need to build back up.
But, if you take the right steps to get back into it, you’ll find it isn’t nearly as bad as you once thought it would be.
Here’s is what you need to do.
#1 Why The Layoff Happened
The very first step you should take, before you even step foot in the gym, is to assess why the layoff happened in the first place.
Why did you take time off?
Obviously, if it was for a reason out of your control – you were injured or dealing with other health problems, this will be a no-brainer.
But, if it happened for another reason, look at why it did. And more importantly, what can you do to change that reason going forward?
How will you prevent falling off the bandwagon once again? Until you identify and possibly eliminate this issue, it will keep re-occurring again and again.
By handling it now, you can make sure that it doesn’t take you off your workout any longer.
#2 Do 1 Week Of Cardio And Bodyweight Moves Only
The second step to take is to perform the first week back doing only cardio training and bodyweight exercises.
If your strength level is down, this means your cardio will also be down as you will lose cardio faster than strength after a layoff.
And, having a bit more cardio fitness built up before you hit the heavy weights will definitely work to your advantage. If you’re gasping for breath on rep 5 of your squats when your muscles can easily handle 8-10 reps, you won’t be seeing much progression.
Ease your body back into things by just doing 3-4 cardio workouts this week and some training using only your bodyweight. Squats, pull-ups (if you’re quite strong), push-ups, lunges, and so forth. This will help you adapt back to the strength stimulus being applied to the body.
#3: Add Light weight Compound Exercises
Once that week is up, you’re now ready to ‘enter the game’ once again. For this next week or two, perform some traditional bodybuilding exercises, but limit to compound moves only.
You need to rebuild back up your foundation of strength and these exercises will help you do so. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, bent over rows, shoulder press, and leg press. Start with a light weight as you do these. No need to push yourself before you are ready.
Get a good feel for the movement again. Feel those muscles working and make sure the mind muscle connection is strong.
Once you’re feeling good and have seen a slight increase in weight, you’re ready for the next step.
#4 Do A Nutritional Check
Before moving forward, it’s important to do a quick nutritional check. If you aren’t eating right before you get ready to up the intensity of the program, you are going to pay the price.
First, look at your total calorie intake. Is it sufficient given you will be training harder? If you have been off for quite a few months, chances are your appetite decreased and with it, your calorie intake may have as well.
Now it’s time to evaluate that and make sure it’s where it needs to be. This generally means somewhere between 16-18 calories per pound of body weight if your goal is to build muscle mass slowly.
In addition to that, also look at your macronutrients. Are you eating enough protein? You’ll want to get in one gram per pound, if not slightly more, each day.
Carbs are also important. Your carb intake may have decreased during the layoff, so now it’s time to bump that back up. 150 grams per day without exercise should be what your goal and then for every 2 sets of work you do, add another 5 grams to that.
Most people should be somewhere around 200-250 grams per day depending on how active you are apart from your workouts (the more active you are, the higher above 150 grams you should go).
Finally, don’t forget those fats. Fats will help to prevent the oxidative damage that can occur from intense exercise, so you’ll want to get them in. Not to mention they can help you boost your testosterone levels as well, so yet another reason to make sure you are eating enough.
Aim for no less than 0.35 grams per pound of body weight each day. Balance them out with your carbohydrate intake.
Once you have your diet in proper alignment, then you are ready for the next step.
#5 Get On A Basic Bodybuilding Program
Now it’s time to get to where you want to be – that bodybuilding program. Think back to what you were doing before the layoff and try and find a plan that is slightly below that level.
Again, you need to slowly advance to where you were before. An upper/lower split is perfect here and will help you ease into more volume in a controlled manner.
Do this program for 3-4 weeks or until you are seeing good strength gains and aren’t feeling as challenged any longer.
#6 Advance To Where You Were Before
Finally, now its’ time to move back to where you were. Add the more advanced protocols – drop sets, supersets, and so forth, like you may have used in the past.
You are now back into the groove and should be feeling proud about your comeback. Keep training hard and always keep that initial reason for falling off the bandwagon in mind.
Avoid it at all costs. Make sure that you also take the time to identify any other barriers that may come between you and keeping up with your workouts. The more ‘troubleshooting’ you can do before they occur, the greater the chances are that you will sidestep them and maintain your program at all times.
So if you’ve fallen off your workout game and are feeling tentative about being able to restart, take comfort in knowing that you definitely can get going again. You just need to be wise and have a step by step action plan like the one just given.
Do that and you can easily get back to where you were, seeing even greater progress than before.
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