Whether you've been relaxing on the beach, travelling the world without a gym, or coming back from an injury, getting back to the gym can be a bitch. And not easing your body back into the swing of things can hinder more than help. Here are a few pointers for getting back on the wagon--and staying there.
1. Don't Over-Do It
I always recommend a slow approach when re-introducing yourself to weight training--after all, it's true what they say about using it and losing it. If it's been more than a week since your last regular workout, you'll need to "prime" yourself before going hard and heavy like you (theoretically) were before. My method: Light weight and low volume half or full body workouts--depending on your preference and energy level--followed by a day off. Repeat as necessary, then start in on a regular split. If it's been months since your last real training sesh, continue the light full body workouts for a week or two before attempting bodypart specific training. The idea here is not to elicit growth, but simply to get the blood flowing, wake up your connective tissue, and get back into a routine with your workouts. Although going balls-to-the-wall is tempting--what with all that new-found motivation--going heavy right off the bat will only make you too sore to go back to the gym--it won't net you any gains. Slow and steady wins the race this time, my friend.
2. Don't Despair
It's easy to get depressed about your size, conditioning, or both when you first get back to the gym. But if you did it once, you can certainly do it again--and you already know what it takes. Try to find the silver lining in every situation. For example, instead of thinking "Oh my god, I'm so fat," try "Oh my god, this bulking cycle is going really well." See what I did there? ;) And if you have a particular goal in mind, whether it be 50 pull-ups, six-pack abs, or 20-inch arms, just keep your nose to the grindstone, ignore everything else, and you'll be there before you know it.
3. Do Enjoy Yourself
This is the one piece of advice I give everyone--regardless of their goals or current status. If you don't enjoy the gym, you won't stick with it very long, and we all know that success in fitness is the sum of many small daily efforts--not gargantuan workouts once every few weeks. Do I think my way is better? Almost always, but it's about what works for you and what keeps you coming back that matters in the end.
"'This is my way; where is yours?"--thus I answered those who asked me "the way." For the way--that does not exist.'" --Nietzsche