Best Workout Plan Approach After Returning From A Long Layoff

best workout plan approach

The best workout plan approach after taking some serious time off.

So, it’s been a while since you have worked out. Things got busy. We get it. But now it’s time to hop back on that plan and see those gains you want most. But where to start. Taking time off has unfortunately limited how much you can lift, how fast you can run, and how much power you can actually generate, but fear not, for the right workout plan approach can get you back on track in no time.

Knowing what to do and how best to tackle this problem is important for jumping into it the wrong way can lead to injury and keep you out of the gym for much longer than need be. But there is no point in beating yourself up. You have come to the right place and we’ll put out an idea that will help get you back in the gym, working hard, and seeing those gains return in no time.

Let’s jump into a workout plan approach for those returning from a long layoff. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, will be important as you look to get those gains going again.

What To Prepare For

Unfortunately, your strength and cardio will have decreased slightly so be prepared to not lift as much or have the same endurance. But in due time that will return. Soreness and those stiff mornings are bound to happen as well but using a foam roller, stretching techniques, and the right supplements will help get you back on track easily.

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How To Structure Your Workout Plan & What To Expect

At First…

Start light and reacquaint yourself with those movements. Some big lifts like the squat and deadlift will come back easily and with lighter weight you can focus on form and rebuild that lost mind-muscle connection (1). Definitely put an emphasis on stretching and loosening up the joints that need it most like your hips and shoulders. Tools like foam rollers and massage guns can work wonders for you here.

When it comes to cardio, start light and build up that base again. The treadmill, elliptical, and bike are good ways to do this. Throw in some incline walking as well.

As Things Start Getting Going…

Slowly increase the weight as well as increasing your intensity. Your body will start getting back to where you stopped and you will start to tackle those exercises more and more. While you won’t be at PR shape, you are getting closer. Heavier loads with lighter reps will work well, and you can start pushing yourself to failure (2).

Ramping Up…

You can start going even heavier and can add some isolation exercises in there to focus on those spots you want to. Here is where sleep and hydration are key as you are pushing your body even more with intensity. For those cardio based workouts, HIIT workouts can be great to get your heart rate going, start to burn more calories, and increase strength at the same time (3).

Once You Feel Ready…

You should be back to normal training. Hitting those same reps as before and feeling good about your progress will start to return and you may even try some one or two rep maxes. Be sure to put an emphasis on nutrition and make sure you are using those supplements wisely. Your body is now going through the ringer and keeping it fueled for every workout will work wonders for you.

What Not To Do

Don’t start lifting heavy right away. This will only lead to unnecessary soreness and even injury. This applies to both lifting and cardio, for you need to get your body back to where it was before your layoff. Getting your body acclimated to those heavy loads and intense cardio takes times so be patient

Don’t neglect a good pre- and post-workout stretching routine. To start, focusing on flexibility and mobility work will better prepare you as those lifts start getting even heavier. Don’t build up strength again only to be limited by tight hips or other joints (4). To alleviate pain as well, looking into knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, or wrist wraps can help take some load off, allow you to lift a little more weight, and focus on form to rebuild that strength you want most.

Best Supplements When Returning From A Layoff

A solid supplementation routine is in order for those returning from a long layoff, as this will kickstart your gains and keep you grinding for much longer by putting an emphasis on health and wellness. To start, a protein powder is a must have on your shelf as this will work to increase muscle growth, enhance recovery, and allow you to better manage your weight, and even lose some. If you need a great a protein powder, look no further than Transparent Labs Grass Fed Protein for those clean gains.

On top of those supplements to build muscle and aid in all things growth, those products to assist with health and wellness needs should be a must have as well. Fish oil can provide you with powerful omega-3 fatty acids that provide for a host of benefits to bodily functions. There are quality Omega-3 Fish Oil’s that help boost immunity, and aid in your digestive health.

Wrap Up

Getting back in the gym can be hard after a long layoff, but the right approach with your workout plan will make your return seem easy. While at first it may be a bit discouraging, that comes with the territory, and you will slowly start to rebuild that strength you want to see most. Having the best supplements to tag team alongside a great workout will work wonders for you and soon enough, you’ll be back on track and seeing those gains you want most again.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Calatayud, J.; et al. (2016). “Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training”. (source)
  2. Mangine, G.; et al. (2015). “The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men”. (source)
  3. P.; et al. (2002). “The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimizing training programmes and maximizing performance in highly trained endurance athletes”. (source)
  4. Haley, J. “The Importance of Flexibility and Mobility”. (source)
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.