Six Things You Need To Know About Newbie Gains After A Break

August 13th 2019

You took a long break from lifting weights and now you are beak, can you still expect newbie gains after a break? After you experienced newbie gains for the very first time, any time you come back to the gym should be referred to as muscle memory. Why? This is not the first time you been to the gym and you are just returning after an extended leave.

However, many internet keyboard warriors and fitness experts throw around terms so that they can attract different crowds. Unfortunately, this is one of those terms that would be used interchangeably. So, just know than when we are talking about newbie gains after a break, we are referring to the muscle memory found in your muscles after a long time of pumping iron. So, let us go into what you should focus on after a long hiatus from the gym.

Newbie Gains After A Break

Here are six major lessons that you should know about newbie gains after a break:


  • It is more muscle memory
  • DO NOT ego lift
  • Always focus on compound movements
  • Diet is important but lifting heavy weights is ABSOLUTELY crucial
  • Everything works, so just do something
  • Stop worrying about your micro-progress


It is more muscle memory

If you have been lifting seriously for any significant period of time, it is foolish to think that after a hiatus, you will lose all your gains. This is just foolish thinking.

However, be aware that it will not be an absolute walk in the park. You will also need to put in consistent effort so that you can continue to develop your strength. I am observing that many lifters have an easier time getting back to where they previously were and even gaining a bit of strength afterward.

DO NOT ego lift

It is very easy to lift more than you should be doing. After all, you have been training for several years and then you need to take two months due to an injury or serious circumstance. Now, you can dedicate a lot of effort into lifting weights. There is only one issue, how much weight should you start with? And how many reps should you do?

Here is what you should do, something less and do 3-5 sets of 5 reps. This is a relatively standard approach for all general strength training approaches. So, for example, you were squatting 405lbs prior to your break, starting off at around 275lbs would be a solid choice. You could even do 315lbs, but that would be a bit on the high scale. And chances are, you will also be slightly deconditioned as well. 

So, you can never start too light. You can always add more weight so that you can train heavier. But if you start too heavy, you risk injury and form breakdown, all for what? Just 15-20lbs more today? You can probably add 15-20lbs in 2-3 weeks and hit it for more solid reps. There is nothing more embarrassing than missing a weight because you are ego-lifting. Do not be a classic gym bro.

Always focus on compound movements

Specifically on the squats and deadlifts. When you focus on compound movements, you are doing the exercises that save you the most time while helping you gain the most amount of strength in the shortest time possible. There could not be better exercises than compound lower-body movements.

So, if you did not program any lower body compound movements after your break, you are making a grave mistake. Drop whatever you are doing. Literally.

Just add in heavy squats and deadlifts into your routine. And watch your progress skyrocket. You will not be disappointed. Trust me. Oh, you will also need to work hard but that is a given if you ever wany significant results in the strength training world.

Diet is important but lifting heavy weights is ABSOLUTELY crucial

You need to eat big. At least 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight on the lower end and 1g of protein per lbs of bodyweight on the upper end. Everything else, make sure you eat enough carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins.

Heavy weights are the crux of all strength training programs. If diet was 80% of the battle, why isn’t 80% of the population walking giants? I’ll tell you why, but dinosaur training, the lost secrets of strength training does a better job illustrating and motivating any serious strength athlete on what they need to do in order to accomplish all their goals in this lifetime.

Overall, you need to train hard. And I am not talking about just breaking a small amount of sweat. But really, that is how you get a small amount of gains. How badly do you want it? Are you willing to push your body to the absolute limit, recover and do the same thing again and again until you are the best? How many people can really push themselves past discomfort like that? I’ll let you answer that last question on your own.

Everything works, so just do something

Now, you may be wondering how exactly you should train after a long break. Should you do bodybuilding, Strongman, powerlifting, etc.? Should you do free weights, barbells, machines, etc? JUST STOP RIGHT THERE.

Why not try this? Instead of analyzing so intensely, why not just pick the first thought in your head and commit 6 months to it minimum? What if it is the wrong program or style? Guess what? It really does not matter. There are so many ways to develop strength that you will be a fool to believe “fitness experts” today trying to brainwash you into thinking that there is only one official way to improve your strength and power.

Sure, there are efficient ways to build your strength, like doing heavy compound movements. But in general, everything and anything works. Just do it for long enough with consistency and watch your strength levels rise.

Stop worrying about your micro-progress

Worrying never solves anything. Please let me know the last time you worried and felt anxious about something and that leads to a solution. Instead, focus on your long term plan. What is your goal one year from now? Five years from now? 10 years from now?

You need to get out of the habit of putting so much focus on the micro day-to-day interactions and to focus more on the bigger picture. Sure, you may not have been able to get all your reps in today. But in the next three workouts, you will have accumulated this amount of working set volume so you should expect yourself to do a heavier weight in your next training cycle.

Or something feels off today? Has it always been like that or is it only today? Ignore it and just focus on completing your training. Worry about it after your workout if it really is still on your mind. 99% of your concerns will be related back to your form, recovery and how fast are you progressing. And the answers will always be the same, work on your form, recover as much as you can and your progress will depend on how serious you take your training and recovery.

And that is it really. Outside of what you can control, you cannot just wave a magic wand and you suddenly improved 300+lbs on your squat and deadlift. 


Surely, you understand and realize what you need to do once you return to the gym. Taking a break is not a big deal. If you need to quit the gym for whatever reason, just do it. But know that the iron will always be waiting for you once you return.

And if you are looking to try out new programming methodologies, 5/3/1 Forever offers invaluable insight for athletes at all levels. If you are a beginner or novice lifter, your time and learning will be better spent learning about linear progression programs such as Starting Strength.

Similar Articles