Too Late To Get Back Into Shape? CHANGE Your Mindset!
March 24th 2020
If you had a recent break from your training and want to get back into it, you might be wondering how long it will take for you to get back into your original shape?
2 months it not a significant amount of time but it is not a short amount of time either.
After taking a 2-month break, you are sure to lose muscle and strength.
But the real question is, how long will it take for you to get back to your previous size and strength?
What happens during a 2-month break?
During a 2-month break from the gym, the stimulus of putting stress on your muscle ceases which causes your muscles to stop growing.
In addition, because your body is not moving heavy weight, the amount of connections between your nervous system and your muscles starts to decrease.
The “muscle memory” of lifting starts to degrade.
Another way you can think of this is that once you stop studying for your exam, you start to forget the information over time.
Eventually, your body will start breaking down the muscle because it has no use for it (due to decreased stimulation) and store it as fat or burn it as fuel.
In addition, your stamina will decrease making it so that you get tired much more quickly after any sort of physical activity.
After 2 months, you will have less muscle, less strength, and a decreased tolerance to exercise.
Your main goal should be to get back to your previous level of fitness and being able to workout consistently rather than building more muscle than you had before.
Obstacles faced when getting back into the gym
The first obstacle you will face when starting to get back into the gym is generalized weakness.
When you stop going to the gym, your body starts losing strength as soon as 2 weeks and the longer you stay away from the gym, the more strength you will lose.
Part of the reason why you lose strength is because of the decrease in neural connections to the muscles.
As mentioned before, this is similar to your body forgetting how to move your body at its maximum capacity.
Your body will need time in order to re-establish these neural connections.
On the bright side, these neural connections can quickly be re-established once you start going back to the gym and lifting heavy weights.
Another reason why you lose strength is because of decreased muscle mass.
If you have been working out consistently before, it will take you around 3 weeks to start losing muscle mass.
This is great because after taking a 2-month break, you only need to focus on regaining the equivalent of 1 months’ work of muscle.
However, according to the article, if you have not been working out consistently before taking the 2-month break, you will lose strength and muscle a lot quicker.
Therefore, if your goal is to get back into working out but you haven’t been consistent before, you should reevaluate your goals and see what is preventing you from going to the gym consistently.
If you have not been going to the gym consistently before and are experiencing a brief period of motivation to get back into it now, you want to be sure that this time you will be consistent and that you won’t give it up as soon as you start it.
Your mindset plays an important role in whether or not you achieve results in the gym.
Lack of neuromuscular coordination
In addition to decreased strength, while performing your exercises, you might also feel a lack of coordination.
You might feel weird when you return to working out and some movements might feel awkward.
This is a natural part of taking time off because, as stated before, by taking a break your body decreases the number of neural connections from the brain to the muscle.
As a result, your body becomes less coordinated in fine or even gross movements.
Because of this, when you start getting back into the gym, you should take a brief period of time to make sure that your form is correct and that you are using the right muscles during your exercise.
If you try to get back into your previous weight too quickly, you are at risk for poor form and for substituting the primary muscle group in order to lift the weight.
Over time, your body will quickly pick up right where it left off and you will be able to perform the exercises with more fluidity and a more natural movement pattern.
Delayed onset muscle soreness
When you take any significant time off from the gym, the moment you return, you will feel a soreness known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
This is the soreness that most people experience when they first start going to the gym.
You may also feel this when you start implementing an exercise for a muscle group that you haven’t been properly activating.
DOMS occurs when your body is not used to the exercise stimulus, and as a result, you feel immense soreness after the workout.
With DOMS, you might feel like you have trouble sleeping, walking, or performing daily activities.
You might feel like you can’t even go to the gym for the next exercise session.
On the bright side, DOMS is nothing to fear and having DOMS does not indicate any significant physical damage to your body
In addition, DOMS will go away on its own in a week.
However, the important thing to keep in mind is that DOMS occurs whenever you take time off from the gym.
If you experience DOMS right after starting the program, and then take a week off in order to recover, you will reexperience DOMS right away.
This is why it is important for you to work through your DOMS no matter how sore you feel.
The soreness won’t compound and overtime your body will get used to exercising again and you won’t feel DOMS during your next training sessions.
Decreased exercise tolerance
Another adaptation that happens to your body after taking time off from the gym is a decrease in exercise tolerance.
Decreased exercise tolerance is simply more than just decreased stamina.
It is also a decrease in the maximum amount you can put into your workouts.
What this means is that when you start getting back into exercising, you need to decrease your volume and intensity so that you are able to complete all your exercises.
If you try and start back up to your previous level of intensity and volume, you are sure to burn out or get injured and the results will not be any more significant.
This is why your main goal when getting back to the gym after a brief break is to build up your exercise tolerance so you can get back to handling your previous weights.
Your main goal when getting back into the gym
Your main goal when getting back into the gym after a prolonged break is to:
- Retrain your nervous system so that it is able to handle heavy weights and so that you can regain your strength
- Rebuild any loss muscle size
- Working out consistently through DOMS
- Reestablishing your previous exercise tolerance
Doing your best to avoid taking long breaks
Although at times it may feel unavoidable, try and do your best to prevent taking long breaks.
Although taking long breaks do not have a drastic effect on your physique as long as you start getting back into it shortly after, taking long breaks for a prolonged period of time will result in decreased strength and muscle mass, and you will lose all the gains that you have made throughout the years.
6+ years of consistent training and I am not quitting
If you have been following my strength progression, I have been around the block and my journey was not smooth by any means.
I had several incidents and accidents that prevented me from training.
But as soon as I was ready physically to get back into the gym, I started to train again.
My mindset also evolved as with my goals and training philosophy and I do not mind sharing this piece of gold with my readers:
Slow, but consistent gains will always be better than fast gains with injuries.
If you do not understand this, give it some time to sink in.
Your current goal will be to be consistent in the gym and to accomplish your goal.
Do not take ANY days off for whatever reason and make sure that your workouts are always completed.