T Nation

Return to the Gym


#1

Hey guys,
I lifted for about 7 years consecutively. The first 3 as part of a great football strength and conditioning program, then purely bodybuilding for a little over a year, and finally three years of competing for Olympic lifting as part of a college club team.

During the bodybuilding phase I got down to around 8% body fat and looked (what I consider) the best I ever have. Once I got to college I found the Weightlifting team and got obsessed with just getting strong. Through that time I was able to develop what I saw as great strength and continually hit new PR’s, but after the last year of Oly lifting I just got burned out. It has been about 11 months now and I’m ready to get back in the gym for bodybuilding style training, but I really don’t know what to do. I wouldn’t consider myself a beginner because I had good technical skill in the lifts, but I can’t seem to find any programs addressing a “Return to the Gym”.

I’m now 22, 6’1", and 233 lbs (about 30 lbs up from my competing weight). I appreciate y’alls advice and program recommendations.


#2

There is no return to the gym program for a reason: You don’t need any special training or anything like that.

Train the same way (more or less… maybe dial back the intensity/volume by feel) you built up your strength/muscle the first time around tho you’ll it’ll be easier/faster this time around. Might be awkward at first as your technique comes back to you but muscle and strength will soon follow.

Muscle memory:

If you’ve done cycles before permanent physiological change to muscle persisting after cessation of use:

If you want to try something different in returning to training you’ll still get the boost from the above factors. Maybe a hybrid kinda program midway between bodybuilding and strength/powerlifting could work well for you e.g. Juggernaut 2.0


#3

I’d say the first thing you need to do is decide what your goals are, because that will affect how you set up your training or what program you do. Are you looking to lose some weight? Do you care about strength in specific lifts, such as squat, bench, deadlift, etc? Are you looking to eventually compete in bodybuilding? You mentioned that you want to get back into “bodybuilding style training,” but this also has a ton of different options.

The next thing is to find a program that you want to do, not necessarily what you “should” do. When getting back into the gym, especially after a long lay off due to burning out, enjoying it is important. If you then decide you want to focus on one style of training, whether to compete or not, then you can look at what specific program will get you to your goals.

I’ve been training for 23+ years and have done a ton of different programs in that time, from solely body weight, to a body part split, push pull, several powerlifting templates, running/swimming, etc. Am I as good in any area as I could have been if I focused on one style and one program, no way, but for me, my goals changed throughout the years and so did my training. Because I always trained how I wanted and changed when I wanted, I can now honestly say I have loved training, still do, and have no intention in stopping. That is what is important to me.

Ben