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So, here we are, hopefully closing in on the end of These Perilous Quarantimes.

Restaurants are opening, stonks are rising, and . . . at long last . . . gyms are unlocking their doors.

And that means a few things to us fitness folk: 

  1. If you’ve been slogging through bodyweight workouts, and the idea of doing another set of pushups instead of bench press makes you want to huff paint and chew someone’s face off, your salvation is nigh. 
  2. If you were lucky enough to snag some dumbbells or other exercise equipment before this thing went down (or were #dedicated enough to sell one of your kidneys in return for said exercise equipment), then you’ll be well-prepared to jump back into your old routine.
  3. And either way, you can look forward to a heaping bowl of good ‘ol fashioned muscle soreness, something you may not have experienced since your newbie gains days.

I’m talking stabbed in the thighs with a rusty butter knife . . . pecs bludgeoned by Sauron’s mace . . . spinal erectors so tender you could sell them at Outback Steakhouse . . . kind of sore.

And that’s not so good. 

While muscle soreness can be a fun novelty, in a strange, masochistic sort of way, you actually want to avoid it as much as possible when getting back into a workout routine.


Because muscle soreness makes it difficult to train with heavy weights, or at all, which means it’ll take you even longer to regain any muscle and strength you lost during the lockdown.

So, how should you ease back into weightlifting when your gym reopens?

How should you adjust your workouts to minimize muscle soreness?

How long will it take until you can return to your old routine? 

You’ll learn the answers to all of these questions in this podcast. 

Let’s find out!


6:02 – Should I go to the gym as soon as it opens back up? 

9:03 – What has happened to my physique if I didn’t do many workouts during quarantine? 

19:49 – What are some guidelines for going back to the gym? 

32:38 – How many sets and reps per workout should I do for retraining? 

43:47 – What training program should I follow for retraining? 

Mentioned on the show: 

Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hello. Muscle For Life Nation. No, I hate that analogy too. Cheesy. Fellow fitness person. Hello, fellow fitness person. I’m Mike Matthews, and this is a new episode of The Muscle for Life podcast. And this one is going to answer a question that I am getting a lot lately, and that is how do I get back into my normal training?

And some people asking this have not been doing much of anything in the way of training for the last couple of months. While others have been doing home workouts, I would say most people asking don’t have much in the way of equipment. So they’ve been doing a lot of body weight stuff and maybe some bands and maybe some dumbbells, and if there are dumbbells, it’s usually.

Lighter dumbbells. Most people I’ve been speaking with don’t have full dumbbell sets, whether adjustable or regular. And so then what many of these people want to know is can they just get back to their normal training regardless of what they’ve been doing or not doing in the last couple of months?

Should they just jump right back into whatever they were doing before and. The answer is no, unless you have a proper gym set up, unless you have home gym privilege. And if you do, you’re a terrible person. You don’t want to immediately resume the training that you were doing before the coronavirus. And specifically, it’s gonna be the volume and the intensity, right?

The difficulty. The training because that is going to produce some wild levels of muscle soreness. Trust me, I’ve done this before. I’ve made this mistake before. I’m talking about stabbed in the thighs with a rusty butter knife. Pecks bludgeoned by sorens mace your spinal erectors, so tender that you could sell them to Outback Steakhouse.

You know that kind of sore. And that type of response to training is not good. That means you’re overdoing it, ironically. You actually want as little muscle soreness as possible, generally speaking, and especially when you are getting back into a workout routine. If you wanna learn more about soreness in particular, head over legion and search for soreness.

And you can read, I think we have a couple of long form articles that breaks down what muscle soreness is and why it’s not necessarily a. Thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you had an effective workout or that you’re gonna gain muscle and strength in response to the workout. And anybody who is an experienced weightlifter and who has followed a well designed workout routine and followed a proper meal plan and gotten enough sleep and so forth, has experienced this where they can work plenty hard in the gym and progress nicely without experiencing very much soreness.

And that’s generally what we. When your muscles are particularly sore, when they’re noticeably sore, it makes it hard to train with heavier weights or train at all, which means that you might need even more time in between workouts before you can train a muscle group again. And that can be suboptimal when you consider how much volume you need to get in every week to continue making progress.

And in the case of getting back in the gym after the lockdown, that’s gonna be particularly relevant because if you go in the gym and you just blast the shit outta your. You might find that your muscles, so let’s say you did, regardless of the split, whether it’s a body part split or upper, lower, full body, whatever, if you do too much, you’re gonna be so sore after your workouts that you may not be able to train the muscles that you just trained again for five, five to, it could even be 7, 8, 9 days.

You could be that sore to where you actually can’t get into productive workout for. Week plus. And so what we want to do then is we want to ease back into the training that we were doing previously. We want to adjust our workouts so we minimize muscle soreness. And at the same time though, we want to make sure that we do get back to our old routine as quickly as we can.

We don’t want to spend two months working back to where we left off. And so that’s what this podcast is going to be about. By the end, you’re gonna know what to. To get back into your regular style of training in a way that makes your muscles resistant to soreness again, and that doesn’t leave you debilitated after your workouts.

And it also allows you to regain your technique. You’re gonna find yourself rusty on the more technical exercises, squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, stuff like that, and ultimately pick up where you left off before. Coronavirus World Tour. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possib.

And we can do the same for you. We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger. Paint by numbers simple by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week, and.

After month. What’s more, we’ve found that people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all that’s giving you the most grief.

Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise. Selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles, or maybe it’s something else, and whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure it out, that’s when everything finally clicks.

That’s when you start making serious progress. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to That’s by, and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we get to.

Know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service. And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my VIP coaching [email protected]

All right. Let’s kick this off with a quick discussion of whether you should go to the gym right when it opens back up, because that’s also something I’ve been getting asked about, and my position is if you have tested positive for Covid 19 or think that you have it, then you don’t want to be.

Exercising probably at all for at least 10 days while you see how your body responds to the illness. And most people will have mild or no symptoms, but that’s the safe and the smart choice. And then after that, if you’ve had it, then you wanna make sure that you rest for at least another week or two.

Even if your symptoms are gone, because it’s best to ensure that you are fully recovered and you’re not gonna spread it around the gym. All right. What if you don’t have it and you don’t want to get it? What then should you go? I would say, It’s up to you. You should look at the risks objectively and decide if you’re willing to take those risks to start training again.

And what I’m talking about specifically is, for instance, according to recent CDC data, the death rate among confirmed cases is 0.26%. And according to other data, 46% of the deaths here in the United States have been. In nursing homes, we’re talking about old people and often old people with other health conditions.

And this is also reflected in other CDC data that shows that people under the age of 44 account for just two and a half percent of all COVID related deaths. And even that doesn’t tell the whole story though, because it’s likely many of those people had preexisting illnesses and health complications as well, like obesity.

Diabetes and others. So for those of us who are, let’s say under 44, it’s really under 60, but under 44 and healthy, it is very probable that the risk is very low for us. And that’d be the risk of serious complications and. Death. Now that said, of course we don’t want to get the virus and don’t want to get Covid 19 if we can avoid it.

And so if you are going to get back in the gym, I think it makes sense to take a few precautions like washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after. So before you go in and after you leave. Trying to go to the gym during off peak hours is probably a good idea. Early morning.

Late morning, late evening. Maximizing your physical distance from other people in the gym is also a good idea. The six foot social distancing recommendation. Keep that in the gym and try not to touch your face while you’re in the gym. You’re gonna be touching equipment, obviously, that other people have been touching, and you may get the virus on your hands while you’re working out, but if you don’t touch your face, You may not get infected.

All right, so that’s it for whether you should get back into the gym, even if you can. Let’s now quickly go over what has happened or what has likely happened to your physique in the time off. If you haven’t been doing much in the way of workouts, and I think this is worth. Addressing because many people who are wondering how to get back into working out after this extended break have also been wondering about how much damage they’ve caused.

And I have good news. And the good news is you don’t lose muscle tissue, actual muscle tissue nearly as quickly as many people. Yes, you can look quite a bit smaller after taking an extended break. After taking, shit, you start to notice a reduction in size. If you just take a week off the gym, max two weeks, right?

Your arms look a little bit smaller, especially the smaller muscle groups. Your pants are a little bit looser. You don’t have as much of a residual pump from your workouts, and many people mistake even that for actual muscle loss. Just that point of if you’re training regular, You have a residual pump, right?

So you train, whatever you train. It could be one muscle group, or it could be a number of muscle groups. And then for the next couple of days, they’re a little bit more swollen than usual, a little bit bigger than usual, right? If you don’t train them for, again, most people notice this after seven or 10 days or so of not training a muscle group, you don’t have that residual swelling.

Muscles look and feel a bit smaller than you’re used to. Many people then interpret that as muscle loss. That’s not muscle loss. Actual muscle loss needs to be lean muscle tissue, and that is. Worth highlighting because lean muscle tissue is different. When I’m saying lean muscle tissue, muscle fibers, not necessarily the fluid that is stored in muscles, right?

So you have water and you have glycogen. You’re gonna lose a bit of that. If you’re not training. As time goes on, you’re muscles are gonna shrink then because of the lack of the residual pump, and they’re gonna be carrying around less water and less glycogen, which if you were. A DEXA scan, for example, would register as lean mass lost.

It would register as muscle lost, but that’s not exactly what you were thinking of, right? When you’re thinking of losing muscle, because when you get back into training, your muscles will quickly store more water again, more glycogen again, and that would register as lean mass gained. So really what we wanna look at is actual muscle.

Fibers because those are what are going to drive our workouts and get us back to where we left off. And the good news is, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, your body holds onto muscle remarkably well, even if you’re not training, and therefore holds onto strength Too, because most of your strength comes from your muscle mass.

A bit of it comes from technique and even your mindset, but most of it comes from the muscle that you have. So if you are holding on to most of the muscle you have, you are also holding on to most of the strength potential you have. You could look at it that way, right? Because your skill can degrade. And if you haven’t squatted, barbell squatted.

Couple of months, like me or barbell deadlifted, you can assume that even if you haven’t lost any muscle, so let’s say you’ve been doing home workouts and you have retained all of your muscle, and if you’ve been doing regular home workouts that are even remotely challenging, you have almost certainly.

Retained most, if not all of your muscle, but you’re gonna get back in the gym. You’re gonna get under a barbell or over a barbell, and it’s gonna feel heavy if you’re trying to load it with the training weights that you were using before the lockdown. And that is mostly gonna be from skill degradation.

You’re just not gonna feel comfort. Doing the exercises with those loads, again, you’re gonna have to work back up to that. But the good news is because you have retained most, if not all of your muscle, that strength potential is still there. You just have to recalibrate your muscles to the heavy training and to the exercises that you normally do.

And I don’t want to belabor this point because it’s not really the focus of the podcast, but I just wanna share one study that is a great example of what I. Talked about, So this was conducted by scientists at Brunelle University, and the researchers had 33 untrained young men and women lift weights for 10 weeks and then stopped exercising for three months, and the researchers measured the people’s leg.

Muscle size and strength at various points throughout the study. Before they started, after five weeks of training, after 10 weeks of training, and then after three months of no training no weight lifting, and no formal exercise whatsoever. And the result was, although the participants did lose some strength and some muscle, But not as much as you might think.

So after three months of no training, what the scientists found is the participants’ leg muscles were on average about the same size as they were after five weeks of training. So what that means then is they lost about five weeks of size gains by taking a three month break. And remember, That the reduction in muscle size was not solely due to actual muscle tissue that was lost.

A fair amount of that is gonna be due to no residual pump, no residual swelling, and less water and glycogen stored in the muscles. Similar results were seen in another study that was conducted by scientists at Ohio Univers. And this one had six young untrained women lift weights for 20 weeks and then stop lifting for 30 weeks and then start lifting again for six weeks.

And what they found is after 20 weeks of lifting, the women improved their strength by about 67%. And then after 30 weeks of no lifting, their strength went down by about 13%. That’s 13% relative to where they were after their 20 weeks of weight lifting. And then after their six week return to Weightlift, their strength shot up by about 40% relative to where they were after their break, relative to where they were starting that six week retraining period.

And so what this means then is despite not lifting weights for nearly eight months, these women lost. A small fraction of their squat strength, and they not only regained what they lost after just a few weeks of getting back in the gym, they set new prs and the same thing was true of their muscle fibers, which researchers looked at under a microscope.

They found that their muscles grew significantly in the first 20 weeks of training and then shrunk a little bit after 30 weeks of no lifting, and then grew bigger than ever when they got back. For six weeks. And so the bottom line here is if you have not been working out at all, or if your workouts have been very sporadic or not very challenging, don’t worry.

You probably haven’t lost much in the way of muscle and strength and whatever you might have lost is going to come back quickly if you just follow the rest of the advice I’m gonna give you in this podcast. Alrighty. Let’s just bite right to the center of this totsy pop and talk about how to get back into your.

As I mentioned earlier in this podcast, you might want to just jump back into your old routine, but that’s probably a bad idea because unless you’ve been doing it at home, in which case you’re probably not listening to this podcast, your muscles are going to be much more sensitive to the training, and that comes with some pros and cons.

So on one. You will be able to quickly gain back any muscle and strength that you might have lost. But on the other hand, it means that your muscles are gonna be far more susceptible to muscle damage than they were before the lockdown began. And you’re gonna get a lot more sore from your training, and you’re probably gonna find this to be true even if you have been doing home workouts.

But you don’t have a much of a setup. So if you’ve been doing a lot of body weight stuff, even some band work, and if you’ve been doing dumbbell work with heavy dumbbells, you might be okay. And if you’ve been training more or less the same way as you normally would, but with dumbbells instead of a barbell and machines, you might be okay.

But again, if that’s the case, you’re probably not listening to this podcast. If you do have dumbbells, they’re probably not very heavy. And you’ve mostly just been doing very high rep stuff, which again, is great for maintaining muscle and maintaining a fair amount of your strength. But if you’re gonna go from that style of training back to the heavier barbell centric compound exercise centric training.

You still are gonna find that you get way more sore from your normal workouts than you did before. And then there’s the technique point, which I had mentioned as well. You’re gonna find that your form is a bit rusty on the big lifts in particular, and if you were to just. Throw the normal weights that you use on the bar and go for it.

You might be increasing your risk of injury. And that’s true for someone like me as well. Even though I have a good set of adjustable dumbbells, I have a set of bow flex dumbbells that go up to 90 pounds, and because they’re awkward, the 90 pounds feels heavier. But anyway, I’ve been getting in some good workouts to have the dumbbells.

I have some power lifting bands, you know the ones that go up to 120 or 25 pounds of resistance. I have a dip station. I have a pull-up bar, and I’ve certainly lost no muscle and I haven’t been tracking my workouts because I don’t really care. I don’t expect to make any progress with my setup, but I would say that my strength in terms of weight and reps.

On the more difficult dumbbell exercises hasn’t changed much, if at all. I probably haven’t lost anything really in the way of weight and reps before and after the lockdown on some of the tougher exercises, like maybe a dumbbell bench press, a dumbbell front squat a dumbbell row, and so forth. However, it would be a mistake to think that because I’ve lost no muscle and probably no strength, I can just go right back to my pre coronavirus.

Training weights on the barbell exercises. My skill is not going to be there. My technique is not going to be as good, just like how my golf swing has degraded over the last couple of months. So has my squat, bench deadlift, and overhead press. And so I will be practicing what I preach and doing exactly what I’m gonna share with you in this podcast.

And. It boils down to really is gradually reintroducing our muscles to proper strength training right, to heavy weights, to compound exercises, and then also working on improving our technique and getting proper form grooved back in. And it’ll only take a few weeks of this kind of training to then.

Safely and productively transition fully back into your previous routine. And specifically, I have a few guidelines for you to follow in your training. So let’s start with the first one, and that is to use 50 to 80% of your one rep max for your compound exercises. Now, thanks to a phenomenon known as the repeated bout effect, your muscles become significantly more resistant to damage from strength training after just a.

Workouts. That’s how quickly they adapt. And this is why you got so sore when you started lifting, like when you were brand new but then stopped getting sore, or your soreness levels went way down after just a few weeks of training. Now, here’s something many people don’t know though. You don’t have to train all that heavy or hard to reap the benefits of the repeated doubt effect.

That is you can train. Relatively lightweights and protect your muscles from damage caused by heavier lifting. A good example of this is a study that was conducted by scientists from the national Taiwan Normal University, and what they did is split up 24 untrained young men into two groups. Group one performed a workout using just 10% of their maximum voluntary.

So that’s like a one out of 10 in terms of intensity, on a scale of one to 10. And these guys trained almost every major muscle group. They trained their biceps, triceps, chest muscles, quads, hamstrings, calves, even abs and spinal erectors. And then two days later, everyone returned to the lab. And performed another workout using 80% of their maximum strength training all the same muscles.

And in this way, the first workout acted as a kind of like an introductory workout for the harder session a couple of days later. And then group two performed a workout using 80% of their maximum voluntary strength, but didn’t perform any. Easier training before that workout, and the result was what the scientists found is Group One experienced significantly less muscle soreness and a smaller decrease in strength than group two after their workout with heavier weights.

And what’s also cool is the participants in the first group didn’t experience a significant increase in muscle soreness or a decrease in strength after the lighter introductory workout. And so then by performing that easy workout with the lightweights, they were able to protect their muscles from muscle damage from the.

Heavier weights, which was just a couple of days later. And so in a sense, their muscles, quote unquote overreacted to the easy workout and then became much more resistant to the muscle damage and the soreness that’s caused by a difficult workout with heavy weights. Now, why am I talking about this study?

How does this apply to you? I am recommending that you use lighter weights for your first few weeks when you’re back in the gym because it’ll cause very little muscle damage. It’ll cause very little muscle soreness and will greatly reduce the amount of damage and soreness that you’re going to experience when you get back to your heavier weights that you’re used to using.

How light should the weights be though? The participants in the study that we just discussed were untrained, so their body was much more sensitive to muscle damage than someone who is an experienced weightlifter, probably like you. And even someone who is an experienced weightlifter who has taken a couple of months.

Off. If that’s you are still gonna be more resistant to muscle damage and to soreness than someone who has never lifted weights before and is getting into it for the first time. And especially if you’ve been doing some home workouts again, even if they’re not the most effective home workouts and you haven’t been perfect with compliance, you will be able to start with more difficult workouts than the 10% of maximum strength that was used in that study.

What I recommend is during your first week back in the gym, week one, use about 50% of your one rep max on your compound exercises. And in terms of working out what that is, you have two options. One is if you’ve been pretty effective with your home workouts, you don’t have a proper home gym, so you haven’t been doing the heavy barbell stuff, but maybe you have some dumbbells or some bands that are strong.

And you’ve been getting in some decent workouts, let’s say anything 20 reps per set or less, right? So if most of your hard sets have been ending no higher than 20 reps, so once you get to 20 reps or fewer, you are a couple of reps away from technical failure. If that’s been generally the difficulty of your hard sets and you’ve been keeping in your volume, I think you can.

Go back to your training weights that you were using before the coronavirus and work out what they were in terms of one rep max. Chances are you already tracked that. So let’s say for example, before the virus, you were squatting three 15 for sets of six with 80 to 85% of your one rep max. You can just take that and bring the weight down to.

50% of one rep max and work with that. That’s what I’m gonna be doing. However, if you’ve not been training for the last couple of months, or you’ve been doing sporadic workouts, or you’ve been pretty good on compliance, but your workouts have been just a lot of very high rep stuff because you don’t have any equipment really, so you’ve just been doing a lot of body weight stuff.

You may want to work out what 50% of your one rep max on. Whatever compound exercise you’re gonna do is based on your pre virus training numbers and reduce that slightly more. So maybe instead of 50, eh, let’s go down to 40 of what that was, and so that is gonna be your intensity. For compound exercises, That was a long way to say 40 to 50% really, of one rep max.

But I just wanted to make that distinction for people wondering if they can just go right back to 50 if they haven’t really been doing much of anything. Again, I’d go down a bit lower than that. And then on your isolation exercises, I recommend an intensity of about. Reps in reserve, just r is how I’m gonna refer to that.

And in case you’re not familiar with r, what that is it’s simply an indication of how many more reps you could do in a set before your form starts to fall apart. If you absolutely had to, if you really had to push yourself, how many more reps could you do before your form goes to shit? And if you’re like most weightlifters, this is how you naturally talk about your sets, right?

You might say, Oh, that was a real grinder. I had maybe one rep left before it was gonna go to shit. So an r i r of five then, and this is what I want you to do with your isolation exercises, means that you could, you’re gonna end your set to the point where you feel you could get about five more reps again before it gets really hard and your form is gonna look bad.

And in terms of figuring that out, it may take a little bit of trial and error. But what you can do is you can look back at your training logs before the virus. And if you’re like me, and like most people listening to this podcast who are into weightlifting, you are probably used to ending your sets with one or two reps in reserve.

Meaning that, let’s say you’re doing a set of barbell curls, you’re probably ending it at the point where you could do one more good. Before you really have to start swinging the barbell around or using your elbows to lift it up, right? Maybe two reps left. That’s probably what you’re used to doing. So what I want you to do now is to turn that into five reps.

And a good rule of thumb for doing that is for every 10 pound reduction on an exercise, 10 pounds total. So if we’re talking about a barb exercise, that’d be five on either side. If we’re talking about dumbbells, five pound reduction per dumbbell, you can expect to gain about. Reps. And so if you’re used to ending your isolation exercises with one or two reps left in the tank, we wanna add four to that.

Basically, if we want to gain four reps, then we want to drop the weight by about 20 pounds total. And if you haven’t been training at all, it might need to be a little bit more, You could start there and see how it goes, but you might need to reduce the weight a little bit more. And that’s a key point I want to highlight here is to get to this five r r.

For week one. I want. To reduce the weight you’re using on your isolation exercises. I don’t want you to go back to the same weights you are using and do just one, two, or maybe three reps. Reduce the weight so you can get a fair number of reps. You’re probably gonna get anywhere from six to eight reps.

Who knows, maybe even 10 reps. But the sets are going to be a lot. Easier. And so that’s week one, 40 to 50% of one RM on the compounds. And we’ll talk about reps in a minute and five r on the isolation exercises. And then what I want you to do is to increase the load on the compounds. 15 to maybe 20% going into week two.

So this would be somewhere around, let’s say you started with 50% of one rep max. Now you’re at about 60% of one rep max. Again, working with your pre virus numbers. And then bump up your isolation exercises by five pounds where possible, and 10 pounds where you can’t go up by five. So going up by five pounds will probably reduce your R hour by about one going up by 10 pounds.

Should reduce it by. Two, and then in the following week, on week three, I want you to use about 15% more weight on your compound exercises. So bumping up your compounds, two around 70, maybe 75% of one rep max. Again, using your pre corona numbers and making the same increase on your isolation exercises going up by just five pounds.

Where possible and where not possible go up by 10 pounds. And if you’re going up by five again, you’ll be eh, around probably three r ar. And if you’re going up by 10, you’re gonna be back to probably about one R ar. So this should be more or less what you were doing before the virus on your isolation exercises.

And then on the fourth and final week for your compound exercises, let’s get you up to 80% of your one rep, max, of your current one rep max. We can just go with current numbers now, because you’re gonna be back in the groove. Your technique will have come back and a fair amount of your strength will have already come back.

And so you can use your training numbers just in the week. Prior, you can use your 70% of one rep max numbers to now figure out where are you at actually with your strength, and let’s put 80% of your current strength on the bar and let’s train there. Again, we’ll talk about how many reps to do per set in a minute, and then on your isolation exercises if you’re not already back.

To one r r. Let’s get you back there. So if you’re at three or two is fine, if you’re not back to one or two, let’s get you there. So if you’re still at three or four because you’ve gained back a fair amount of muscle and strength already, then let’s bump that weight up again. For every 10 pounds that you take from an exercise, you gain about two reps, and then as a corollary for every 10 pounds that you add to an exercise.

You can expect to lose two reps, so if you’re around three r, maybe even four, then let’s go up by 10 pounds total on your isolation exercise, or at least the ones where you’re at three or four R r. And you might wanna only go up by five pounds on some exercises and on others, you might not need to go up at all because you’re back to one r r.

If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible. And we can do the same for you.

Okay, let’s talk sets and reps per workout. What I want you to do is one to three sets for compound exercises and two to three sets for isolation exercises per workout, and that’s it. These are not gonna be very difficult workouts because how much. Work you do. How many hard sets you do in a workout is also going to heavily impact how much muscle damage and soreness your workouts produce, and like intensity.

You don’t need to do very much volume to reintroduce your body or your muscles to weightlifting and to help protect them from damage and soreness that will come from the more intense training. Right around the corner. Moreover, doing relatively short, low volume workouts is also a great way to get back into the groove with your technique because when you’re only doing a handful of sets, you really never get too fatigued and you’re able to pay attention to your form, especially with the loads being lower, and you will be able to quickly sharpen your technique and.

Get back to doing quality training, quality reps. We don’t wanna do too little volume for too long though, because that just becomes unproductive. We need to gradually increase our workout volume to get back to making gains again, because that is one of the. Best ways to force your body to keep getting bigger regardless of puritization, regardless of how you’re trying to progress in your program, what kind of progression model you’re using, you need to make your body work harder and harder over time for less and less muscle and strength gain.

And most of that comes down to doing more volume. So what’s our plan? Our plan is week one, just do one. Per compound exercise and just two sets per isolation, exercise per workout. So you’re doing your same workouts that you’re doing before, but just much easier versions. Week two. Now two sets per compound with a bit more weight like we discussed earlier.

And then three sets per isolation exercise again with a bit more weight like we discussed earlier. And then on the third and fourth weeks, I want you. Three sets for all compound and all isolation exercises, again with the weights going up. So what we’re doing here is we’re gradually increasing both the volume and the intensity, and this is a great way to prevent overuse injuries.

This is a great way to, again, prime your body for intense training and reduce the amount of muscle damage and muscle soreness that you’re going to experience from your normal workouts. Okay. How about reps per set? What I want you to do is just two to five reps per set on your compound exercises.

And so again, this is gonna feel very easy. We’re talking about 40, maybe 50% of your own rep max for two to five reps. But it’s important that you just follow my advice, don’t overdo it because just as doing too much volume in a workout can cause excess muscle damage, soreness, and fatigue. And that’s true.

Any situation, regardless of how trained or detrained you might be, you could be super fit, but there is a certain level of volume. If you do too much, you will break your shit. And if you are detrained, then it takes a lot less volume to. Break your shit. So similarly, if you do too many reps in each set, that also can cause problems.

So now I’m talking about really the volume of an individual set, right? Normally when I’m talking about volume, I like to look at it through the lens of hard sets per major muscle group. And that could be per workout, it could be per week. But in this case, I’m talking about volume. Can be viewed in terms of total reps, but I don’t like using that for the purposes of programming.

However, what I’m talking about here is just the volume of the individual sets matters in this case, and we don’t want to do too many reps in each set. And we also don’t wanna do too many sets in each workout, and that’s mostly the case with. The compound exercises, the hard stuff, less of an issue with the isolation exercises, which is why you’re gonna do more reps per set.

And I already mentioned that earlier and on the compounds though, using low amounts of reps per set is also gonna be good for bringing your technique back up to snuff because again, you’re gonna get a lot of good reps in. You’re gonna experience minimal fatigue and you’re gonna be able to focus on what you’re doing, what your limbs are doing, how your body’s moving.

And so two to five reps on your compounds during this first month back in the gym, and as you have probably figured out, what I’m gonna recommend is two reps per set on the compounds in your first week, and then move up to three in your second week, and then four in your third, and then five in your fourth and final.

Retraining week. And as far as the isolation exercises go lower and higher. Numbers of reps could work so long as you are following my r recommendations. But I recommend starting with higher and working toward lower. I think I said earlier in the podcast, somewhere around six to eight reps per set at the five r, and I’m going to revise that actually and say start around 12.

So figure. What weight you can use on your isolation exercises that allows you to get 12 reps with five still in reserve. And again, that might take a little bit of trial and error, but you should be able to figure it out. Just looking back at your previous training, and especially if you’ve been keeping up any sort of home workout routine and seeing what you were using previously.

Assume that you are ending most hard sets with one or two reps still in the tank, and then adjusting accordingly. So dropping again, some around 20, maybe even as much as 30 pounds off the exercise. We’ll put you at about five r i r, but you also have to look at how many reps you are doing with that.

Weight previously. So let’s say you were using a hundred pounds on whatever exercise and you were getting eight reps with an RRR of one or two, all right? You reduced that by 20 pounds, you go down to 80 pounds, and at that time, what that would allow you to do then is to do sets of eight reps with about five reps in reserve.

Okay? So now we are closer to. We need to be, but not there yet. Because week one I want you doing 12 reps, five r r. And even if we’ve more or less maintained all of the strength that we had for the virus, if we were to go with 80 pounds, we’re gonna be doing sets of eight with five r r. So what do we need to do?

Ah, we need to gain four reps. How do we do that? We drop 20 more pounds from the exercise. We go down to 60 pounds, which should allow us now to get about 12 reps with five still in reserve. And I understand that might sound complicated, but it’s not. You actually can do it on the fly. All you need to do is take whatever exercise that you’re gonna do, look at your pre virus training, weights and reps, and then first again, we can assume that if you’re into lifting, you were taking your hard sets, pretty close to technical failure, you are probably around one or two rrr.

So immediately we know that we need to gain four reps, right? Basically so we can drop off 20 pounds to do that. All right? We know we gotta do that. So no matter what, you’re gonna be using at least 20 pounds less than you were using before the lockdown. Now we need to get up to 12 reps. And again, to do that, all we need to do is.

Take 10 pounds off the exercise for every two reps that we need to gain. So if we were looking at, let’s say, dumbbell curls for six reps, we’d go, All right, we need to gain six reps. We have to turn this into dumbbell curls for 12 reps. How are we gonna do that? Oh, We just need to drop 30 pounds. Every 10 pounds gives us about two reps.

And as far as progression goes on your isolation exercises, again, we can just keep it simple. Just increase the weight on those exercises by five to 10 pounds each week. Five pounds if you can, 10 pounds if you can’t go up by five. So then by the end of week four, you’re back to using some heavier weights.

All right, one other tip here in laying out your training, and that is to squat and bench. Twice per week, even if you don’t normally do that. And deadlift and military press just once per week. And the reason for this is just to get back. Technique frequency is very good for that. Frequency doesn’t much impact muscle gain per se.

It’s more just a way to get in enough volume. But when we have allowed our skill to degrade, Something, whether it is swinging a golf club or swimming technique or squatting, frequent practice is better than infrequent practice for getting our skills back to where they were. And so then bench and squat twice per week.

Deadlift and military press just once per week. And the reason for the one deadlift per week is it’s not very technically demanding. It’s the. Technically demanding between the major lifts and it also tends to cause more muscle damage, soreness, and fatigue than the other lifts. And that’s what we’re trying to minimize.

And as for the military press at just once per week, it doesn’t allow to move as much weight as the bench press, and it’s not as important to most people. So that’s why I think it makes sense to squat and bench twice per week. They. More technically demanding than the deadlift and more important in the scheme of things than the military press.

And it’ll help you again, get your technique back to where it needs to be to get back to your normal higher intensity training. And so why don’t we just quickly recap everything that we’ve talked about here. So we have a four week retraining program. And I want you to use 50 to 80% of onem on your compounds.

I want you to do one to three sets per compound exercise and two to three sets per isolation, exercise per workout, two to five reps per set on your compounds, and 12 to six reps per set on your isolations, depending on where you’re at in the retraining phase. And I should probably note that if you follow my.

Guidance and you increase the weight on your isolation exercises by five to 10 pounds per week. That may not be enough because we want both your reps and your r to go down. It really just depends how fit you are as you get back into this and how quickly your body responds. So you might find that you increase the weight by just five pounds and it only drops your r by maybe one, but you can still get 12 reps.

Then fine go. By 10 pounds. And if that’s not enough, if you go up by 10 pounds and you find that, let’s say your r goes down by one or two, but you still can get 12 reps pretty easily. Then great, you get to go up by a bit more. You can go up by maybe 15 if that’s possible on the exercise or even 20 with the goal of slightly reducing your r.

And your reps per set each week on your isolation exercises. And as far as your workouts go, I just wanna share with you a few templates that you can use. Here’s a five day template workout. One could be the barbell bench press and the barbell squats. And the triceps press down. Workout two could be the barbell deadlift, the lap pull down and the barbell curl.

Workout three could be the military. Press the dumb. Sideways and the dumbbell rear lateral ray. Workout four could be the barbell bench press, incline, barbell bench press, and triceps push down and workout five. Could be the barbell squat, the hamstring curl, lying, seated, whatever you want. I prefer lying and the barbell curl.

All right. Now let’s do four days a week. Work out one barbell bench press barbell squat. Triceps, press down. Workout two. Barbell deadlift LA pull down barbell curl workout three. Military press incline barbell bench press Dumbbell sideways workout. Four Barbell Squat Barbell Bench press. Barbell Curl. And lastly, a three day program workout.

One barbell bench Press. Barbell squat, triceps, Press down, workout two, barbell deadlift, military press, barbell curl workout, three barbell squat barbell bench press and LA pull down. And as usual, you want to do your warmups right, Do your little warmup sets. And there are many ways to do that. But an easy way is to do 10 reps with about half of your hard set weight, whatever your training weight is gonna be.

Do a set with about half of that for 10 and rest for a minute, and then do 10 reps with the same amount of. Just a little bit faster. And then for your final warmup set, do four reps with about 70% of your hard set. Wait rest a minute, maybe two minutes. And then you’re ready to go. And make sure you also are resting enough in between sets, even if they feel easy.

Still get in that two to four minutes of rest. You could do two minutes in your first week if everything feels very easy. And then as the workouts get a little bit harder on your compounds, you may wanna rest three minutes and that’s fine. Or maybe even four minutes. Just make sure to take rests as needed.

And then of course, after this four weeks of retraining, you should be ready to resume whatever you were doing before the beer virus upended everything. All right. That’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in.

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And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for, just muscle or and share your thoughts on how I can do this better. I read everything myself and I’m always looking or constructive feedback, even if it is criticism. I’m open to it and of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.

That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at multiple And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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