Why your return to gym has been brutal

Andrew Jansen
Why your return to gym has been brutal


Tired, unmotivated, weak and generally confused about what’s happening at gym? So is everyone else. Here are 6 things to fix it

1. You didn’t lose gains, you are just untrained

Lifting has a mental and physical aspect to it. Its repetitive, its work and mentally and physically, you were conditioned to do that work.

Forcing yourself to do a bunch of exercises you don’t’ feel like will make gym a chore, not a joy. On a pure physical side, it will also blow out your CNS.

As a general rule, come back to gym one day on, one day off, cap time at 30mins to 1 hour (after you are warm).

The same advice you give to beginners, leave the gym while you still want to be there, so you look forward to coming back. Don’t stay till you feel dead.

A simple upper body lower body split is fine, machines are fine, reps are fine, curls for half the workout are fine


Why your return to gym has been brutal

2. Connecting gym to gains and fun is paramount


When you were a beginner, a HUGE part of the mental aspect was you connected the work in the gym to getting better. When you retrain, the glorious feeling is gone, and instead you feel like you are repeating grade 3.

For the first month, try to stay away from the big three, and you wont remind yourself that you got a little weaker and less co-ordinated.

This would be a great time to chase rep gains on incline dumbbell press, military press, rows, pistols, leg press.

Build a mindset that this training, is training to be ready for the next big strength block


Why your return to gym has been brutal

3. Build your work capacity


Start shorter, more isolation movements, more machines, gently progress to more free weights, more weight and more time.

You will get an injury if you push it. Muscle, ligaments and tendons all detrain on their own timeline, and need time and stimulus to get better.

We strongly recommend one of the big three come in each week. So bench one week, squat the next, dead the third.

At the risk of this site being super repetitive, strength is a marathon, sprint and the start, fail at the end.


Why your return to gym has been brutal

4. Think long term


A good max out day or comp 6 months from now, two months to retrain, 16 week peak cycle. Or even plan 9 months or a year from now.

Just don’t lose sight. The main this, is to keep the main thing, the main thing. If strength is your goal, treat the process with respect and plan ahead.

5. Keep your trump cards

For as long as possible, save working to failure, 9RPE, big volume or advanced programming. Take some joy in the easy things providing stimulus.

Work hard on your weak sides, so when you have your work capacity back, you are ready to all time PB.

Easy weak points for lifters are:

  • Mid thoracic strength and mobility, to arc better and low bar better
  • Lateral and cross sectional strength, to save the lift that goes bad (Palloff press rules for this)
  • Single leg strength being even
  • Grip


Why your return to gym has been brutal

6. Trust muscle memory, trust you know what you are doing


The most important thing you are doing is rebuilding a habit. Pay super close attention to your motivation, call old training partners, check out a new gym, get a new shirt or belt, whatever makes you pumped to train.

Remember, you should be start working on your diet again, start to make sure you get your protein in, carbs before and after training.

The true key to strength is consistency. Show up at the gym, get work done, recover, repeat forever.

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