People dedicate years of their life to strict training, and the entire bodybuilding lifestyle. Unfortunately, the habit can be broken. Get a workout and tips from our forum members to help you break through and reignite the passion.

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: What Is The Best Comeback Workout?

The Question:

Exercising can be truly addicting. Once you start, it's a hard habit to break. People dedicate years of their life to strict dieting, hardcore training and the entire bodybuilding lifestyle. Unfortunately, sometimes the habit is broken. Health reasons, hectic schedules, a needed change in life, work, family problems, loss of motivation, and stress are all things that can break the habit. Eventually, one may want to get back into the game. They clearly aren't going to be the same as they once were. They need a solid routine to help trigger muscle memory and get back in shape.

What is the best comeback workout? Be specific.

How long could it take to build the muscle back that you once had?

How can one prevent breaking the habit, never needing a "comeback" workout?

Bonus Question: What is the main reason you got off track or completely stopped you training program?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - BurningHeart
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


Introduction

We try to avoid it, but that does not stop it from happening. It's the time when for some reason, we get sidetracked off of our workout routine and never get around to getting back into the groove.

Each passing day of not working out makes it more difficult to start back up. Without even realizing it, we gain body fat and lose muscle mass. It isn't until we see past pictures of ourselves or receive a negative reaction from someone we haven't seen in a while that we realize how we've changed. Instead of getting those great "Wow you've been working out" compliments, we get the "Did you stop working out?" reactions.

It is then that we build up our past fuel for working out, and decide to make a commitment to get back in shape. At this point we are not in as bad of a position as it seems. Factors such as muscle memory and past experience will get you back into shape faster than you think.

So what is the best way to maximize your muscle memory and past experience to get back into shape faster? What workout is best to accomplish this goal? These subjects are what this article will cover.

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Part 1:
What Is The Best Comeback Workout? Be Specific.

When preparing a comeback routine you should realize you aren't in the shape as you once were, however that is not a reason to do as little working out as possible. Your body has been at a lethargic state for a long time, meaning your body's muscles are completely healed and good to go for weightlifting.

Along with healed muscles, your muscle memory is another reason to not workout at a minimum. Simply put, muscle memory is the body's ability to activate the muscle fibers quickly due to having done it so many times in the past.

Let's divide muscle building into five stages:

  1. Sedentary
  2. Light
  3. Moderate
  4. High
  5. Genetic Limit

Furthermore let's say for an average person to achieve these levels it takes; 3 months, 6 months, 2 years and 5 years from completion of the previous stage, respectively.

For instance, a person achieves a certain level of muscle and then stops. Some time later, if that same person gets back into the workout, he/she will gain muscle mass that he/she has already obtained in the past at a much faster rate. This can be seen visually as:

Stages
Click Image To Enlarge.
5 Stages Of Muscle Building.

This is how muscle memory plays a role in weightlifting. While these are not hard numbers, it serves as an illustration on how muscle memory works. So we make a routine based around our experience and the total usage of muscle memory.

This routine, as seen below, consists of 3 stages, each 4 weeks long.

  • The first stage is getting your body back into shape. It includes easier exercises at high reps in order to increase muscle size by taking advantage of muscle memory.

  • The second stage includes little harder exercises at moderate reps. Compound exercises such as pullups and dips, in order to increase muscle strength and prepare your body for more advanced exercises.

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  • Finally the third stage is consists of the more advanced exercises, such as weighted pull-ups and dips. They are done at low reps in order to be able to use high weight, which is optimal for strength gains.


Workout Tips:

  1. While on this routine, one should use the maximum weight possible for the rep ranges called for.

  2. Rest between sets should be about 90 seconds. Rest between exercises should be about 3 minutes. Thus a day's workout should not last longer than an hour.

  3. Each exercise should be done with proper form coming before added weight. For descriptions of these exercises and more visit the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database.


Comeback Workout - 3 Day Split, 12 Total Weeks:


Nutrition:

    Along with the actual weightlifting, you must ingest the proper nutrition. Good training with a bad diet will yield little results or even ruin your comeback.

    Usually when one stops working out, they also stop eating right. Remember to eat right you need a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. A good percentage would be sticking to 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 20% fats.

    Depending on your body type and your goals, you then need to decide if you want to bulk up or cut. If you decide to bulk up, then set your daily calorie goals to 800 calories over your daily usage. If you decide to cut, then set your daily calorie goals to 800 calories under your daily usage. You can find your daily calorie use with this calculator:

MACRONUTRIENT CALCULATOR

Enter Your Bodyweight In The Appropriate Box Below:

Your Bodyweight In Pounds: OR In Kilograms:

Your Body Fat Percentage: %

    Now that you have a template of your diet, it's time to talk about what to eat. As I mentioned before you should concern yourself not only with the amount of protein, carbs and fat but the quality of it also.

    Carbohydrates:

      Carbohydrates supply your body with readily needed energy. However consuming carbohydrates over what your body uses will result in fat gain. Also it is important to eat the right quality of carbohydrates. Generally speaking, if it's brown it's good; if it's white it's bad.

      Bad (simple) carbohydrates include white bread, white rice and sugar. Good (complex) carbohydrates include wheat bread, brown rice, nuts and whole grain cereals. The factor that separates the good from the bad is that the simple carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar, thus resulting in fat gain; whereas complex carbohydrates will gradually raise your blood sugar level, rather than spiking it.

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    Protein:

      While having to watch what carbohydrates you eat, protein is close but different. Protein in general is good for you; there is no bad type of protein. However what you eat that has protein in it determines if it's a good food or not. A McDonald's hamburger may have protein in it, but it's also loaded with saturated fats and simple carbohydrates.

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      On the other hand a chicken breast has a great deal of protein in it, and it's a lean source too which makes it a great bodybuilding food. There are two main types of protein, whey and casein. Whey protein is absorbed fast by the body, which makes it great for post-workout nutrition. Casein protein is absorbed slowly, which makes it great for long periods when you will not have anything to eat, such as when sleeping.

        View Top Selling Whey Protein Products Here.
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    Fats:

      Fats are the final nutrient. Fats, like carbohydrates have their bad forms and good forms. Saturated fat, which is found in cooking oils and butter, is the unhealthiest form of fat. The healthier fat is called monounsaturated fat. This fat is found mainly in olive oil, sesame oil, nuts, avocados and fish oil.

      Another type of healthy fats is the EFA's (Essential fatty acids). These are found mainly in flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, fish, shellfish and nuts. Fats should always be a part of your diet, as they maintain healthy skin and hair, maintain body temperature, promote healthy cell function, and are the only way your body can absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.

        View Top Selling Flax Products Here.


Sleep:

    So we now have our workout set & our diet set - there is one more thing that will complete our comeback. That is proper rest. There is not much science behind sleep; basically 8 hours per day of uninterrupted sleep is recommended to maximize muscle gains and replenish your energy.

    If you have trouble falling asleep, try keeping your bedroom cooler, avoid naps during the day, drink as few liquids as possible before bed, release tight fitting pants on your bladder, try not to sleep on your stomach and try sleep supplements such as ZMA or melatonin.

      View Top Selling ZMA Products Here.
      View Top Selling Melatonin Products Here.

    Combining the right workout, diet and sleep will make your comeback seem so much easier, and go so much smoother.


Part 2:
How Long Could It Take To Build The Muscle Back That You Once Had?

As shown in the pyramid diagram earlier, the time it takes to build back the muscle you once had depends on how much muscle mass was achieved in the past.

If Jimmy only worked out for a month and achieved little added muscle mass, Jimmy would only have muscle memory spanning to that previous point. That position may take a short time to get there (2-3 weeks), however once that point is achieved Jimmy will be in unchartered territory. From that point on, his gains would take the same amount of time as most people's gains would.

However if Eva works out for 2 years before stopping, her muscle memory spans all the way to the High Muscle Mass level (as shown in the diagram). While a normal person takes 2 years to get there, she might achieve that same level in only 1 year because her body's muscle mass has been at that point before.

musle memory musle memory
Click Image To Enlarge.
Muscle Memory Greatly Determines
The Time Needed To Make A Comeback.

Whatever the amount of time you may have worked out in the past, it is a known fact that muscle memory will help you get to that level much faster than the average person. This alone gives you an excellent reason to get back into weightlifting.


Part 3:
How Can One Prevent Breaking The Habit, Never Needing A "Comeback" Workout?

Breaking yourself from any habit, including weightlifting, happens mainly because you take a break and never get back into it. One day of not working out becomes a week, which becomes a month and so on.

Many things can be done to prevent yourself from breaking your routine. These factors include:

  • Preventing overtraining
  • Keeping yourself motivated
  • Prioritizing your daily schedule
  • Having the right mindset


Preventing Overtraining:

    In brief terms, overtraining is working out too hard and too long without a break. Overtraining can lead to many problems such as:

    All of these factors can contribute to breaking a routine. While a rest from the routine is what is needed to cure overtraining syndrome, this break often spans a few months or years.

    To Prevent Overtraining:

      Have a healthy, balanced diet; take breaks after 10-12 weeks of weightlifting and manage your workout routines wisely. For instance this means not to train arms 5 days a week. Extremely detailed information about overtraining can be found here:

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Keeping Yourself Motivated:

    Without motivation, you will not stick to a routine. Motivation is possibly the most important factor in keeping yourself from never straying from weightlifting.

    To Keep Yourself Motivated:

      Some tips to keep yourself motivated are:

      • Getting a training partner
      • Setting goals
      • Take progress pictures every 3 months or so
      • Use mirrors in when working out
      • Keep a workout log to track progress
      • Stick to a balanced diet in order to keep a healthy mindset

      Did You Know?
      With Bodybuilding.com's BodySpace you can track your progress with your own personal BodyBlog and get effective programs and advice from people with similar goals!

      For detailed information on motivation, visit this link:

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Prioritizing Your Daily Schedule:

    A set daily schedule will help tremendously in keeping yourself in a routine. If your days are unplanned then you are unlikely to have something to do when it comes time to workout. For example, you usually workout at night and you put off studying for an exam until the end of day. It now comes down to either working out or studying, in this situation studying should come first; however it could all have been avoided by just studying earlier.

    To Prioritize Your Schedule:

      Devote a certain time of day to working out. During that time of day you must not plan anything else, it would be as if this period did not exist. This time of day should include a free hour before and after the workout as to not have to rush during your training. For example if you workout from 10-11 a.m., then from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. there should not be anything planned.

    Training Split Articles:


Having The Right Mindset:

    As if combining all of the above factors, having the right mindset is working out for the right reasons. You should workout for reasons such as your health, physique, and accomplishing goals. However you shouldn't go into workouts with the mindset of getting them over with as quickly as possible, just to say you worked out. If you do, then one of the above factors could be the reason why your workouts are not at their fullest potential.

    To Have The Right Mindset:

      Whether you workout at a gym or at home, the weightroom should be an escape from the real world. It's a place where you can leave all of your troubles behind and relieve stress. It is important to go into your workouts with this mindset, and the fact you are constantly improving your body.

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      After a workout you should know you have more muscle mass or less body fat than you did the day before. Each day is more and more progress to your goals.


Part 4 - Bonus Question:
What Is The Main Reason You Got Off Track Or Completely Stopped Your Training Program?

I did not only get off track, or just completely stop my routine. I actually got sidetracked and later on completely stopped. Here is my story ...

Rewind back 2 and a half years ago. I was working out, however not with the right mindset. I'd just go through the motions in order to get it done with as quickly as possible. The only thing that was keeping me going was my training partner, since we worked out at his house. Back then I wanted to play games, watch TV or hang out with friends rather than working out.

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The desire to take recreation time over workout time is the reason I got off track from my routine. However I did not stop working out, only because my workout partner would encourage me to keep going. If it wasn't for him, I would have completely stopped my routine long before I did. This is why I highly recommend workout partners for motivation.

So anyway I kept at the half-@ssed workouts for a few months. It was then I would completely stop training, my workout partner could not weightlift at the same time as I could due to a change in his work schedule. Once I didn't have him to push me anymore I stopped working out all together.

During this time I played computer games and hung out with friends, all sedentary activities. I kept telling myself I'd start working out again, but as time went on it got easier to not workout. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. I had gained body fat and lost muscle, however without realizing because I would see my body everyday. It wasn't until two concurrent events that I was able to break this cycle of lethargy.

RELATED POLL
Have You Ever Gotten Off Track Or Completely Stopped Your Training Program?

Yes.
No.

One day at work, one of my friends that I haven't seen in months visited me. One of his first comments to me was, "Whoa you stopped working out?" That was a wakeup call for me. Even though I didn't notice I was getting out of shape, it was obvious others did. After all of the positive compliments I received in the past, I had actually gotten a negative comment. That was the point where I told myself I was going to start working out again.

Not a week after that wakeup call, behold another good occurrence. My workout partner had his work schedule changed, meaning we could workout together once again.

The first day of getting back into my routine was a Monday. I know this because Monday is the day we do a full-body workout. Included in this workout are supersetting push-ups and pull-ups. Supersetting is doing a set of push-ups followed immediately by a set of pull-ups. It's something I could endure in the past, however this workout was different.

supervid.htm
Super Set Video Guide:

I was so out of shape that after the three sets I felt as if I had to puke. It was a horrible feeling to actually see how much I had gotten out of shape.

When I got home after that workout I told myself I'd never stop working out again; I shouldn't have to feel completely exhausted after a few pull-ups and push-ups. It's been about two years since that incident, and I have never stopped working out. The only break I had was a month and a half off, because I had to get surgery on my back. (Nothing too serious, I just slipped a disc when squatting with improper form. Better form beats more weight, but that's another story)

Two years later I still have the motivation to stick to my routine, probably even more than before. You will not see results on a day by day basis; however when you see past pictures of yourself all out of shape, it is proof that working out is paying off.

burningheart
Click Image To Enlarge.
From BurningHeart's BodySpace.
Get Your Own BodySpace Started Now!

I hope this article will help some of you who may be stagnating in their workouts or completely stopped. Getting out of your workout routine may be the easier path to take, but it isn't the smartest. Even though you may have an extra hour in the day free, you'll feel like crap ... which in my opinion does not come close to that wonderful feeling you get after a workout.

References:


What Is The Best Comeback Workout?

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