Getting Back On The Horse: Returning To The Gym

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Perhaps the ebb and flow of life has thrown you off your fitness routine, and you are ready to return to the gym. It might be that you are post-partum, or had to nurse an injury or illness. Or it could be that you have been moving at such a frenetic pace in your life that you got sidetracked from your “every damned day” gym schedule, and need to get back into the groove. Whatever the reason is for putting consistent gym visits on the back burner, the good news is that you can re-establish a consistent fitness regimen. In order to ensure the greatest success with your efforts, here are some suggestions which will motivate you and keep you on track.

Set Goals

I bet some of you may have forgotten about the power of setting specific goals for yourself. It may be that you have been away from the iron den for a long time, so you might want to set strength gain goals in which you move up in your 1 rep max every two weeks, increase the number of free dips or pullups you can perform every few weeks, or even increase the amount of time you hold a plank.

Another type of goal you can set for yourself is to increase muscle mass in a measurable way, perhaps a one inch increase in your calf girth over a 6 week period, for example. Instead of meandering back into the gym and having a general objective, like just getting back in there, make sure to hang a carrot in front of you so that you are even more motivated to stick to the program.

Be Realistic

Thank goodness for muscle memory, because it enables those who are at a high level of fitness to regain their muscle mass and strength rather quickly after a period of inactivity. However, those who were at a lower level of fitness at their baseline will lose muscle and strength pretty rapidly, after even as little as two weeks of not lifting weights. Depending on what your degree of muscularity or strength was before your setback, you will have to give yourself some time to build back up to previous levels of muscle mass and strength. If you find yourself with more padding around the midsection, glutes, or thighs than what you had when you were hitting the weights consistently, make sure that you target fat loss with your training and food intake.

Eat Properly

You can’t expect to achieve stellar results just by hitting the weights like a fiend, while putting junk food in your body, so make sure to establish healthy eating habits to support your return to lifting weights. If your eating habits have gone by the wayside, incorporate a consistent meal plan which provides your body with clean macronutrients and supports your weight training. Throw out the forbidden foods which may be lurking in your kitchen, such as sweets, crackers, chips, and ice cream. Stock your kitchen with whole foods like lean turkey, chicken breast, salmon, eggs, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, almonds, walnuts, and avocado. Confine cheat meals to one evening on the weekends.

Don’t Overtrain

Make sure to give yourself time to get back into the swing of things, especially if you are returning after an injury or illness. You MUST take it easy, otherwise you run the risk of injuring or re-injuring yourself, causing an even bigger setback. If you were very fit before you took your break, your muscle mass and strength should both return to their previous levels within a couple of weeks.

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