We all need to take some time off from the gym once in a while, whether its voluntary or involuntary, it happens to all of us. Sometimes, life just gets in the way, maybe you just had a baby, maybe you’re burnt out or maybe you injured yourself, it’s perfectly normal to take some time off. Just make sure it’s a valid reason, not an excuse to be lazy.
Now, we would all love to come back to the gym, pick up where we left off and start busting out those reps with the heaviest weights, just like we used to before that long break. Well, you probably shouldn’t. No matter how exciting it can be, and I know it can, the last thing you should do is to continue like nothing ever happened. Your body will freak out, and you will hurt yourself. Instead, take it slow and try the following:
A proper warm-up, although important before every gym session, is even more important when coming back after a long break. Your muscles just aren’t used to doing all that work, they have been lying dormant for a while and if you push them into high gear suddenly, you are bound to tear something and injure yourself.
Start with 5-10 minutes of light cardio just to get the blood flowing, and then start your lifts with 25% of the weight that you used to, even if that means using an empty bar. Then slowly move up in weight over the next 3-4 sets.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, I was resting this whole time, I need to work out more! Well, again, no. If you just had your first gym session today, you are going to be sore tomorrow, really sore. Don’t get carried away yet.
Your muscles aren’t used to doing all that work so take it slowly. Take a day off in between if you need to, do some cardio instead and get that blood flowing. Your muscles will take at least a week or two to get used to frequent exercises. Let that muscle memory wake up!
Be Wary of Weak Body Parts
If you’re coming back after an injury, there is no way that you will still be able to lift as much as you used to, not yet at least. That’s fine you can work up to it. However, what you should really be careful of is to not overwork your previously injured body parts through indirect stimulation.
For example, if you injured a part of your shoulder, be careful when doing bench presses and bicep curls. Why? This is because both these exercises use your shoulders as support muscles and over-working them can cause a major strain. Ensure that your muscles are getting proper rest and leave at least 24 hours of rest between exercises that use similar body parts. A good way to avoid over stimulation is by splitting your workouts into upper body and lower body days.