How Hard Should I Be Weight Training After I Take A Break?

Question

Hey Blake, I hope this is the correct e-mail to reach you at if you do in fact reply to emails. I'm sure you are very busy with the website. I'm going to start a full body weight training program when I finish my travels in Asia. I will be home in a week and I am thinking more and more about lifting again. My question is:

When starting a new weight lifting program after a long break, is it best to ease in to one or to start training as I would any other session?

Thanks for any input.

Riley

Answer

Hi Riley,

Thanks for the question.

It all depends on how long your break is.

If it's only been a week or so, you should be able to retain most of your strength and attack the weights with the same intensity as before.

It sounds like you've been away from weight training for longer than a week so I'm going to assume your on an extended vacation.

I'm going to give you some very important advice.

Take your time when you start back into a weight training routine, especially after a long break.

Tyring to attack the weight with all out intensity after a long break is hard on the nerves, muscles, joints, and just about every other functioning part of your body. You might not be as strong as you were when you left off but the good news is that you'll get there in a matter of two to three weeks.

There was a time when I'd take three weeks off from weight training and I'd come back and try and hit the weight as hard as I could. Of course, I was in my ‘20's but looking back, I did more damage than good and it only got worse as I got older. At 38 years of age, I don't even think of training at high intensity when I hit the weight after a short break.

Trust me, take your time introducing higher intensity levels to your routine after a break. Your going to lose some strength but you'll get all of that back plus a little more. How much strength do you lose? It all depends. I've actually got an article about this situation here .

Here's what I suggest you do. When you come back to your weight training routine, cut your weight down until you can easily do 12 repetitions. Cut your sets in half. If you were doing 3 or 4 sets per body part, cut it down to 2 sets.

For example, let's say you were doing 4 sets of 8 on the bench press, pyramiding your weight up to your work weight. You would cut your sets down to 2 and increase your repetitions range to 12. Also, lighten the weight to allow you to comfortably perform 12 repetitions.

You shouldn't be struggling to get the weight up. I suggest you do this for all of your weight training sessions for the first week. After your first week, start adding some more weight and more sets.

On your third week, you should be nearing your previous sets, repetitions, and weight prior to your break.

Of course, this all depends on how long you've been off. You might need more or less time, but the point is, that you should work yourself up to your previous workout intensity before your break.

I hope this helps,

Blake

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