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My experience coming back from a layoff

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  • My experience coming back from a layoff

    So about 4 weeks ago I started lifting ago after a 7 month layoff. With gyms opening up I thought I would share my experience so far.

    Lifting background:

    I started lifting when I was 18 years old (when I got to college). I lifted regularly for 9 years between 2001 and 2010. During that time, I lifted hard, but not smart and wasn't always consistent. I got a decent bench press (4 reps at 275 was my all time best--about a 295 1 rep max), but didn't squat or deadlift (did leg press, hamstring curls on a machine and calf raises for legs). In general I developed my upper body better than my lower body. From 2010-2018 I focused on long distance running. At points during that time, I did some circuit strength training, but that was on and off again and the goal was never really to add as much strength as possible In 2016 I tore my meniscus but did not get surgery. For two years between 2016-2018 I tried to run but every time my training ramped up my knee (meniscus) bothered me. In late 2018 I stopped running.

    In January 2019 I started lifting and I lifted for 8 months until September 2019. During that time I took off about 3 weeks from upperbody lifting and 6 weeks from lowerbody lifting when I had surgery to remove the torn part of my meniscus. In September I spent 3 weeks in the Philippines (where my fiance is from) and I simply never got back to lifting when I got back to the U.S. In early April I started teleworking and working from home which made me decide to start using the powerrack in my garage again.

    In the 4 weeks since coming back, I have basically used a linear progression. I started off pretty conservative and simply added weight each session. This is also how I handled the time off last year when I had the meniscus surgery. I also gained fat between September 2019 and April 2020. My weight basically stayed the same from September to mid April when I started lifting again, but I probably lost around 8 pounds of muscle and 3 pounds of water weight (I took creatine) when I stopped lifting and replaced it with fat. I was 5'10 210 pounds when I started lifting again in mid April and have lost 5 pounds the past four weeks while doing the linear progression. At first I was adding 10 pounds to the bench, squat, and deadlift each week. But I am going to drop that to 5 pounds as most of my sets were at RPE 9 with an occasional RPE 10 in my last workout so 10 pounds is no longer sustainable. That said, I am amazed at how quickly you regain your strength after a long layoff-even if you are losing weight as I am (my weight loss rate indicates I am in about a 600 per day calorie deficit). I think my linear progression will probably go another 6 or so weeks at which point I'll probably run one of BBM's programs.

    TLDR: My advice from my current experience is to start conservative then work back to your former weights using a linear progression. Once you get back to your old weights then run a periodized program.