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The Homegrown Animal Returns to the Gym

Now that gyms are beginning to re-open in certain parts of the world, I am happy to say “welcome back to the gym”! I know we’ve all been terrified of losing gains during this quarantine, but you might not want to jump back into the old routine just yet. Some of you have faced the dreaded detraining effect and are set up to get buried with fatigue if you resume the same routine. Don’t be discouraged, this is also a great time to make the most gains doing less. It’s like newbie gains all over again, so check out this read for setting up the post lockdown training phase.

You likely fall into 1 of 4 different camps coming out of home shelter. The first group, the Home Gym Pioneers, quickly scavenged all metal, wood, and equipment to design the best home gym possible. The second group, the Home Workout Warriors, followed the Home-Grown Training series and only used bands or body weight for the past few months. The third group is the Netflix and Chill Crew. Instead of training, this group had a long hibernation from flexing a muscle and the gains have twiddled. The last group, the Secret Gym Ninjas, still had access to a normal gym facility, and we are all jealous of them. The group I am really addressing here are the Home Workout Warriors and The Netflix and Chill Crew. The Gym Pioneers and Gym Ninjas didn’t skip a beat and can continue back into training as usual. But for the others, some detraining has occurred and we need to make some adjustments to training.

Use It or Lose It and Making a Comeback<?h3>

Let us look at the worst-case scenario—you didn’t train at all during lockdown. Detraining will happen and strength will slowly decline along with muscle mass. However, muscle mass gains will hang around much longer than strength as long as you were able to do some form of training with a good effort. Strength is very specific to intensity and movement pattern. If you weren’t able to perform your normal 300lb for 5 reps on the bench press, you likely will lose some of the strength adaptations from now doing bodyweight push-ups for 30 reps.

Another thing to know about detraining is you will be more likely to accrue muscle damage, so the first week back can make you very sore which can build up a lot of fatigue. Why is fatigue bad? Well if you do too much too soon, it will drive down performance and hinder progress. The bonus to being detrained is you are also very sensitive to volume, thus a little bit of training is going to give you a big stimulus for muscle growth.

What this all means is we need to get reacquainted with exercises we haven’t been doing for a while and train with slightly lower volume before ramping it back up. You can push effort hard and closer to failure when performing familiar exercises that you were able to do during lockdown, but the exercises you are just getting back to doing should be kept at 2-3 reps shy of failure the first week back. In the training below I refer to this as 2-3 Reps in Reserve (RIR). I know you are thinking I’m going soft talking about leaving reps in the tank, but this is purely an acclimation week to get you back to dropping down the hammer safely.

Post Lock Down Training Guidelines:

· Train 3-4 days per week total

· Train each muscle 2 times per week

· 6-8 sets per muscle group

· For new compound lifts, leave 2-3 reps in reserve

· For isolation lifts and familiar lifts, take the set at or near failure

· Some gyms have 1-hour time limit, so utilize super sets and zig zag approach to save time

 

 

WEEK 1 and 2 SAMPLE PLAN

DAY 1

UPPER A

sets

reps

RIR

Rest (min)

DAY 4

UPPER B

sets

reps

RIR

Rest (min)

BB BENT OVER ROW

3

5-8

3

2

INCLINE BB PRESS

3

5-8

3

2

INCLINE DB PRESS

2

10-15

3

2

TBAR ROW

2

10-15

3

2

LAT PULLDOWN

2

10-15

3

2

FLAT DB PRESS

2

10-15

3

2

ANY FLAT CHEST PRESS

2

10-15

3

2

PULL UP

2

10-15

3

2

BB UPRIGHT ROW

3

15-20

1

2

DB LATERAL RAISE

3

15-20

1

2

SUPER SET

A1 TRICEP PUSHDOWN

4

10-20

1

1

SUPER SET

A1 TRICEP PUSHDOWN

4

10-20

1

1

A2 BB BICEP CURL

4

10-20

1

A2 BB BICEP CURL

4

10-20

1

Day 2

LEGS A

sets

reps

RIR

Rest (min)

Day 5

LEGS B

sets

reps

RIR

Rest (min)

BACK SQUAT

3

5-8

3

3

BB RDL

3

5-8

3

3

BB GLUTE BRIDGE

2

8-12

3

2

LEG PRESS

2

8-12

3

2

SINGLE LEG PRESS

2

10-15

3

2

SMITH MACHINE SPLIT SQUAT

2

10-15

3

2

LYING LEG CURL

2

10-15

2

2

SEATED LEG CURL

2

10-15

1

2

ADDUCTION

2

15-20

2

2

ADDUCTION

2

10-15

1

2

STANDING CALF RAISE

4

5-10

2

2

STANDING CALF RAISE

4

10-15

1

2

HANGING LEG RAISE

3

10-15

1

1

ROPE CRUNCH

3

15-20

1

1

*Day 3, 6 and 7 are off days; Reps in Reserve (RIR) 3=3 reps from failure, 2=2 reps from failure, 1=1 rep from failure

Progressing Past the First Two Weeks

If you’ve made it past the first two weeks and were able to hold back from unleashing hell upon the gym, you are now at a point to continue load/rep progressions. I would really start pushing the effort back up in your lifts by either upping load 5% or adding a rep to your sets. You can also take those compound lifts close to failure and all isolations movements to failure. Don’t add in any more sets until you get your effort level back up to what it was before.
Autoregulation is a great tool to use now as well. Don’t think you MUST train again if you are wrecked sore. Just take the extra rest day and pick up the training split the following day. More recovery time isn’t a bad thing.

What About My Belly Fat

Okay, some of us in the Netflix and Chill Crew might have added on some body fat. The temptation to drop calories and up cardio is going to be high. Don’t do it. You are already going to throw in weight training which alone will start recomping you and improving your look. Adding a calorie deficit at the start of training will hinder recovery. Eat at maintenance calories right now or even a slight surplus, and don’t do more cardio than you are used to doing. Save cardio additions for the 2nd and 3rd week back at the gym.

Again, it’s so great to be back at the gym and I wish everyone safe gains. While these suggestions aren’t the commandments on how to come back and train after lockdown, they can at least give you a little guidance. Train smart, train hard, and remember #IAmAnimal.

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