I understand what people go through, I have gone through it, but I wouldn't call it a plateau, that words definition:
- Is too lazy to train lagging body parts hard.
Anyway this article is about coming back after a layoff and getting back into things with some variety and making things fun again.
When coming back to the gym after a layoff it should feel like you are entering the gym for the first time again, remember that feeling all these crazy machines, mirrors on the walls, remember the feeling that you felt the first time you walked into a gym thinking, huh ... what's that, feeling like a little girl. Why is that like that?
A good idea when returning to training is prepare a rough diet for you to follow. Generally when I am dieting, my training lifts cause I don't want to be eating all this boring healthy food for nothing, I might as well look good while I lose my taste buds so my training is balls-to-the-wall.
When not trying to get too cut or try and put on weight I generally structure 5 small meals from morning to night and then allow me to eat other food even junk food around them at my discursion as long as I get my "proper" food eaten.
This doesn't work to well when trying to stay lean though but with cardio it will be an able way to keep you looking better than the "average bear" so to speak. Also it will help put on some size, as calories will be increased.
Give that a try and see how it feels a general rule for me is 2-to-3 protein shakes a day, reduce the carbs at night so for dinner and afternoon tea only eat veggies and salad with your protein source. You will have the chance to burn off any extra carbs, although make sure you get adequate carbs when training in the afternoon or evening after your workout to replenish the muscle.
After a layoff come back heavy. Real heavy. Reps no higher than 8, don't use any more than 2 machines per workout with the exception of legs if you have to, but generally train heavy using free weights, although a spotter will be needed on most sets by increasing your poundages week by week.
By going heavy it will reduce the fatigue due to lack of time in the gym over the past few weeks and make you work hard. It is surprising how much easier it is mentally when doing 5 reps of squats with 250kg+ than 20 reps of squats with 100kg on the bar.
Do this for the first 4 weeks or so after a layoff and then switch back to a more well rounded routine that wont tax your body so much.
Base your workouts around these exercises:
- Bench Press
- Military Press
- Stiff Legged Deadlifts
- Barbell Curls
- Skull Crushers
- Barbell Shrugs
I have found that I do not train as good when I am not listening to a Discman or Walkman or mp3 player etc. I don't like to hear all the bullsh!t that gets talked about in the gym, especially at my gym. If I train in the morning it has all the elderly there talking about God knows what, but I know it's boring. Then in the afternoons/evening there are the "tough guys" who talk more about what they did in the gym yesterday (like the 4,000-pound bench press they did, but no-one saw because they were the only ones in the gym)… how ironic!
I feel listening to your favorite music with no distractions only talking to your training partner works wonders, it also stops people asking you pointless questions!
If you find a good training partner this can be the ultimate tool to keeping your workouts intense and your gym adventure more than just 1-or-2 months but a regular thing. A training partner helps you train when you don't feel like it and you help him train when he doesn't feel like it. You and a training partner complement each other. Also a training partner can eliminate the hassle for finding a good spot from a random in the gym.
Intensity levels will rise as you can just go set for set with your training partner instead of guessing ... "Oh, I went about 5 minutes ago I think I should go again now shouldn't I?" By picking up the intensity it will get you out of the gym quicker and have you doing normal things again. A training partner is VITAL but you can live without one if you choose.
OK, write everything you do down. How much weight, how many reps and how many sets. This will ensure steady progress and if it is written down you know that you are improving even though you cant see it. By writing everything down it always makes the next workout you do for that muscle group better as you know have written down what you did and if you didn't like it change it, if the weight felt light go heavier or you didn't get a good of enough pump add some more sets and reps. Training Logs are a fantastic way to monitor progress.
Until Next Time,