Too Much Time Off Is A Bad Thing…

I’ll just say it, I hate programming my own workouts. Nothing makes me feel more clueless when trying to get back into the gym and back on track than deciding what to do and how to do it. I can find so many reasons why other programs won’t work, don’t have this piece of equipment, can’t perform that movement, whatever, time will just drag on and the weights just get dustier.

Off due to a new job and a new sleep cycle, it has taken several months to get in the swing again. I was feeling apprehensive about my squat technique and other problem areas so I decided to start slow and get some light reps for practice and ramp the weight back up as good form would allow. Since complicated doesn’t excite me, I started with a few main movements and added in accessory work as the opportunity presented itself. Here is what the first week looked like:

Monday through Saturday:
Easy Curl, bar only, add 5# each day, 50 reps
Ft Squat, 5 reps @, 45#, 65#, 95#, 115#, 135#, 145#.
B Press, 3×10 @, 95#, 115#, 105#, 115#, 120#, 125#.
GHD Situps, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

I chose 6 on and 1 off because I wanted to reestablish the gym habit, the small number of movements and the lighter weights were chosen for the same reason. The easy curl bar I picked up at a flea market, never used one before so I thought I would use a high rep scheme and see what weight felt right, by the end of the week 50 reps was about all I could handle. Front squats are all about elbows up and knees out, my technique was spot on and by Saturday 145 felt really smooth. I was really confident that my bench was not horrible so three sets of ten with a light/heavy rotation felt good. I made a GHD machine a long time ago and I never use it so I added the situps for fun, a warning here, you can really mess yourself up doing too many of these at once and the damage won’t show up for a day or more, hence the very slow start.

I have been thinking a lot about muscle confusion and thought that since I had started programming weekly that maybe I should change up the workout each week, not completely but a tweak here and there to hit different areas different ways. Here is what week two looks like:

The easy curl starts at 30# for 30 reps, then 25# for 30 and finally 20# for 30 reps in drop set fashion, just enough time to change plates between sets. The idea here is to work to failure, adding 2 1/2# to each set when all sets are completed in one workout. Fractional Olympic plates are tremendously hard to find, I use 2” construction washers, they are about a dollar a piece and weigh a shade over 9 ounces each, close enough for government work, eh? The squats are now back squats so that heavier weights can be used and more concentration put on body position and keeping the knees out on the way up. I also switched to three sets increasing the weight each set and breaking the work into light, medium and heavy days in a M, H, L pattern. A 5-3-1 scheme 135/145/150, 145/150/155, 135/140/145 Monday to Wednesday and then adding 5# to each weight for the remaining days will help me get acclimatized to increased work in the coming weeks. I went with four sets of six reps and changed to an incline bench to work a different area of the chest this week with weights of 105/110/115/120/125/130, a sort of rest week for bench. My GHD routine will start at 2×3 adding one rep a day and should get me to 2×8 on Saturday.

My suggestion would be that if you are coming back from a layoff for whatever reason, do something but start real slow, the benefits will be there when you get back. Getting hurt or sore just makes it that much harder to keep going to the gym and that is the goal. Be creative, have fun and enjoy life, words to live by.

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