During a recent trip to the gym, I met a friend that I hadn’t seen in some time – and there was a lot more of him to be seen.
If I had to guess, he’d probably put on 20-30 pounds since last fall, when he was last seen walking amongst the iron.
I felt a little bad for this guy, as he began defending his absence and recent weight gain without me ever mentioning either one. It was clear that he was harboring a bit of guilt about the whole situation. I told him what I tell everyone who puts on a few pounds.
“Don’t worry about it. You’re here now and you had a nice break. You can take that weight off in no time.”
I believe these words when I say them to someone but I’m always wondering if the other person believes what I’m saying? I’ve had more than a couple long breaks over the last couple decades in the gym and I always put on a few extra pounds when I take an extended absence.
In my case, it was usually due to injury but the result is still the same. I have to get back in and get to work – and it’s never easy to start up again.
It’s an easy thing to let yourself get discouraged when you’ve been away from the gym for a while. The strength and stamina are gone and the physique isn’t what it was. It feels like a long road back, but it’s not!
It’s About Energy
If I’m to name one thing in particular that really kicks my ass after my own personal gym hiatus, it’s the lack of energy. I can almost certainly tell you how my training will go on that first day back long before the day arrives.
On my Monday return, I get out of bed and excitedly grab my gym clothes for later in the day. I eat a protein-packed lunch with a reasonable amount of carbohydrates and then I finally head through the gym doors. Rather it’s the treadmill or the iron, I’m pooped in about ten minutes.
That’s the moment that I start looking at “the long road back” and imagining it to be far worse than it ever turns out to be.
What I tell my clients is to focus on easy workouts for the first couple weeks (many people only need one week) and use that time to simply enjoy being back at the gym. Take it easy and go light with everything but put the work in. It simply takes a few days for the body to reacclimate to working out again.
Don’t hit the gym on day one with a goal of kicking your metabolism into high gear and changing your life in one workout – because you already know that’s not going to happen.
In one to two weeks of working out (at four or five days a week), you’ll find that all your energy has returned and that your workouts are back to normal. You’ll feel amazing when you hit the gym again.
You’re likely already aware that diet is the other major factor here. Don’t feed the body crap all day or you’ll feel like crap when you’re working out.
Remember the Law of Conservation. Energy can’t be created or destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another. The calories you consume are the energy sources you’ll be drawing from while working out so quality counts.
Good diet – check. Normal workout routine again – check. That’s how you get the energy you need in the gym.