Returning To The Gym? Try This Routine!

Good news for some of us: gyms have already reopened (albeit with a capacity limit) or will be opening soon (my neck of the woods doesn’t have a set date yet)! Let’s face it, though: sure, you may have been doing your best to keep in shape from home, and I’ve even provided a few home training ideas of my own. None of that matters though, once you’ve returned to the iron. The ability to perform multiple bodyweight squats or pushups may help you keep your pump, and may even help you get a little stronger. But unless you were fortunate enough to afford some kind of home gym, your body is deconditioned.

When your body is deconditioned you may have developed anything from muscular imbalances to lack of joint flexibility and especially since we’ve all been working from home, a lack of core stability. So don’t think for one second that you’re going to be able to walk through those doors in dramatic, movie-like fashion and start right where you left off. This is even more important if you’re naturally thin, lanky or tall. Some of you might even have to start over again. There’s a reason why I chose to use that old picture of me from a few years ago as this article’s main picture – I’m one of those people!

Compound Movements

Sick of me talking about this yet? Well this bears more importance now than ever. Because regardless of your interests, and strength levels, full body training with strictly compound movements and a laser sharp focus on large muscle groups will be the way to go for a while. Full body training three times a week will:

  1. Increase Testosterone Production
  2. Boost Fat Loss
  3. Increase Training Frequency
  4. Offer Shorter Training Periods

That last one is the more important than even fat loss. I don’t want you fraternizing with your friends who’re bound to act like they haven’t been in a gym in years. If you were smart enough to keep yourself active during this time away and they only waited for their precious gym to reopen you’re already ahead of them – keep it that way! With that in mind here’s a sample two phase, nine week routine I came up with to help you rebuild your strength base.

Phase 1 (Weeks 1 – 3)

Back Extensions – 3×10 (add weight and/or mini resistance bands when comfortable)

Squat – *5×5

Bench Press – 5×5

Deadlift – 1×5

Phase 2 (Weeks 4 – 6)

Back Extensions – 3×10

Squat – 5×5

Bench Press – 5×5

*The first two sets will be warm ups sets at 60 and 90% of your desired weight.

Chinups/Deadlifts – 5×3/1×5

Phase 3 (Weeks 7 – 9)

Back Extensions – 3×10

Squat – 5×5

Bench Press – 5×5

*The first two sets will be warm ups sets at 60 and 90% of your desired weight.

Chinups/Deadlifts – 5×3/1×5 – Deadlift frequency will now be reduced to once a week

I believe in taking inspiration from things I’ve tried and believe work, and making them into my own. Therefore, this routine borrows from elements of Reg Park’s legendary 5×5 routine and the Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Routine. For example, a prior wrist injury makes it diffucult for me to perform Powers Cleans, as Starting Strength prescribes in Phase 2 of their routine. On the other hand, I do not believe in performing three fixed Deadlift sets via Reg Park’s routine, because my back was getting very tired near the end and I was very close to hurting myself. So one main set it is!

Once you get to Phase Two of this routine, you’ll alternated between Chinups and Deadlifts. So if you perform Chinups on Monday, Deadlifts on Wednesday and Chinups again on Friday, you’ll begin the next week with Deadlifts and so on. This provides your lower back a chance to recover as this is a linear program. How you increase the weight per session/per week is up to you.

So if you think you can make 20lb jumps on the Deadlift for a while, then by all means go ahead! But just be mindful that muscle memory will not help you so much after such a long layaway, no need to rush just to get back to where you were before March. You can do so without getting hurt! In fact, by the time we get to Phase 3 of this routine, I want you to reduce your Deadlift frequency even more to even once a week. This will give you time to let your lower back recover by either performing chin ups twice a week so you can build up your upper body, or you can even just finish up after you finish benching.

Use rest days to foam roll, stretching or even do some sort of conditioning, whether it be hill sprints, burpees, or whatever may work for you. Have you been taking walks everyday since the lockdown began? Keep walking. Keep your heartrate up!


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