Learn about how to get stronger, upgrade your mindset and cultivate a healthier relationship with food. I’m a Personal Wellness Coach that advocates for strength, empowerment and education. Think of me as your personal sidekick. We're just two people with the same vision: a healthier, stronger, happier…YOU!
Getting Back to the Gym After a Long Break
Well, here we are! The moment we’ve all been waiting for: back to the gym and back to school! *wink*
Over the last few weeks there has been some easing of the restrictions and reopening of gyms. Some people have booked gym slots or classes, while some other people have continued enjoying summer weather with outdoor workouts. Either way, the time is finally here! *P2 does a joyous screaming backflip*
At first glance, most of us are all like: YESSS, this is great news! It is in many ways. Unless you’re in the group that built a gym over the pandemic, in that case good for you and I’m not jealous…ha! Or if you’ve found an awesome routine of home workouts that still challenge you, I’m so happy for you. But I’m talking to our friends who genuinely like the gym and are working towards athletic goals!
After the initial excitement, we remember: OH RIGHT I haven’t been to the gym in so long. Well, don’t panic. I’m here to support you through the process of kicking your fitness up a notch so you can enjoy the sports that you love.
It’s really important to take it one step at a time. It’s only natural to feel a little nervous at the prospect of getting back to the gym after such a long time off. It’s also natural to feel pumped and want to go wild immediately. But, that’s not how it works. If you take it slow, and listen to your body, you can absolutely adapt to higher fitness levels and increase strength and performance within a few weeks. A little bit of patience means the progress comes a lot faster!
If you’re looking for solid advice, here’s my three-step foolproof method of getting back to the gym. This method will work if you’re a weightlifter, a kickboxer, or just starting out. The process is the same.
This may seem like an obvious step, but remember, we’re talking about getting back to the gym after a long time away. As such, there’s no need to go super hard from day one. None of that NO PAIN, NO GAIN, ALL IN mentality over here!
Instead, start with where you are at this time, not where you were 6-12 months ago. Before adding in volume or intensity or doing every exercise you can remember at the same time, remember that quality matters most. Don’t rush the process to feed the ego.
Keep the intensity, volume, and weights low. Focus instead on getting yourself familiar with a specific exercise again. Notice the sensations in your body, notice the resistances, notice how it feels to hold the barbell. Check in with your breathing. Were you holding your breath? Check in with your sequences. What are the movements again? Is it a hinge squat, lunge, push, pull or carry?
Fairly soon the wonderful muscle memory and the familiarly will kick in, and then you can slowly increase repetitions or weights. Remember to take adequate rest breaks too! The amount of muscle burn or sweat doesn’t make a workout necessarily better.
As you may know, I encourage making decisions on the “better” scale.
So ask yourself: “What action can I take today that will make my fitness a little better than yesterday?”
The key point here is to get into a consistent routine with your workouts. Show up on the first day even if it’s hard, then the next day, and the time after that. One day of hard training isn’t going to make much of an impact although it may put you at risk of injury. But consistently applying yourself will make the difference though.
My golden rule is striving for ADHERENCE, CONSISTENCY, and SUSTAINABILITY.
Nutrition definitely impacts performance in the gym, recovery out of the gym, and overall energy throughout the day. You can’t go hard in the gym without also paying attention to your food choices. I actually discussed this more in-depth in my blog post 5 Nutrition Tips for Athletes—be sure to check it out in case you missed it.
You already know that I’m not pro any particular diet. I want you to eat what’s right FOR YOU as everything depends on context. Food in itself isn’t inherently good or bad. Foods can vary depending on the quantity and quality of nutrients, freshness, access, cost, availability, and much more. Of course, food does impact us in many, many ways. Intolerances, sensitivities, allergies, and digestive issues may require a more specific conversation with a professional. Food is also joy and culture. We can eat for the gym and for joy. It doesn’t have to be one or the other! Repeating my golden rule here: ADHERENCE, CONSISTENCY, and SUSTAINABILITY.
Instead of jumping into something extreme and restrictive (i.e. I ate all of the junk so now I’m only eating healthy), start where you’re at just like in Step 1 of this blog. What decisions can you make to eat a little better? What does that mean for you?
Maybe it’s focusing on increasing high quality protein at every meal. Maybe it’s making more of your meals at home. Maybe it’s drinking more water and less juice or beer. Maybe it’s incorporating more vegetables from the local farm. Maybe it’s making sure you’re eating enough. Getting back in the gym will increase your activity level, so take that into account as well. Even if your goal is weight loss, suddenly jumping into a deficit while jumping back into training may not be the wisest idea.
Overall, the level that you’re at determines what area of nutrition you’re focusing on. Bring it back to the basics. When you have the basics down then shift your focus to tracking, macro splits, nutrient timing, and supplementation or implementing other nutrient strategies.
This is the most overlooked and underestimated step when it comes to taking care of your body when you go back to the gym after a long break (or with fitness in general).
As part of my fitness philosophy, I believe in always training smart but not always training hard. Load management is a thing y’all – let me explain! Too often athletes try to go too hard when returning to training even if they’re not ready for it (back to the gym, too much stressors going on, coming from an injury etc). Remember that ego comment? Real talk. I’m sharing from personal experience! Doing too much too soon will inevitably lead to excessive soreness, a possible injury, and even burnout. Work hard, rest harder. If you’re dragging, feeling lethargic, or always sore, take a rest day or two and focus on light aerobic movement and mobility instead.
Prioritize rest so you feel energized to crush your next workout. This includes rest from the gym, from stressors, and good quality sleep.
And there you have it. Easy enough right? One last thing before I let you go: keep a positive attitude. There’s no need to be discouraged if you can’t do the same amount as you did before. The best of athletes still get deconditioned and still come back to the basics time and time again.
For me, the most important thing is celebrating small milestones, knowing full well that with effort and a positive mindset, I can achieve anything I set my mind to. And you can too.
If thinking about getting back to the gym freaks you out, I got you. Reach out for my help here and together we will create the most effectives strategy to get you to become badass again.
✌️ Peace out & see you at the gym,
Coach P2 💪
PS: If you haven’t already, you can download my free Food for Fuel Grocery List here. It will help you know what to buy next time you hit the store so you can eat ‘better’
PPS: If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends—I appreciate it, and you! 😘
You can also contact me directly for a consultation