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What Happens After Not Lifting for 2-3 Years? Newbie Again?

What happens if you lift for a few years then end up having to stop for 2-3 years? Apart from the obvious things, are you classed as a newbie once you start again? Do you still get the same benefits as a newbie? How long do they usually last? I know there’s muscle memory which would behave like a newbie given the right environment.

Yeah thanks to muscle memory, say 80% of gains will come back very fast if eat big, train hard etc

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I’m wondering though if you could basically be a newbie but have the advantage of knowing how to eat train etc and seriously balloon, like is it worth trying to take a year out keeping diet perfect to maintain as much muscle as possible without too much fat gain then start lifting again and capitalize on the benefits and end up with more gains than someone training full time. I know gains slow after a year of training, I’m trying to work out a way to naturally boost growth again

I’ll let you know when I’m done.

I dropped off for a good while. So far strength is returning pretty well. I’m not trying to blow up (like that just happens, right?), but return to some respectable levels of strength and agility.

Maybe some decent gunz for showing off at the playground too. There are some other dads there that are pretty jacked.


Gains on strength will simply be the reacquisition of SKILL on the lift. You will be rapidly relearning HOW to lift, so you will build up to larger numbers faster. This isn’t getting stronger faster; it’s getting better faster.

Rapid gains in size will be simply regaining to where you once were before.

As someone that had to take about a year off from blowing out an ACL, I got back to where I was really quick, but that meant about 6 months of training to get back to where I was a year ago, so an 18 month deficit. That is 18 months I could have spent getting bigger and stronger.


Not gonna happen. To hit big goals in strength and development you have to get comfortable with hitting and then pushing through plateaus.

Saying that, taking regular deloads and staying fresh over the long term is very benficial…

how awesome would it be if this was actually how it worked?

Sadly, it is not the case that not training gives better progress than training.


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What if we threw a physically demanding job in the mix just to help maintain

You would get slightly less small and weak, and in turn require slightly less time to build up to where you previously were, but that would STILL be time that could have been spent building ABOVE where you previously were.

Grrrrr right let me think about what my next crazy idea is gonna be

Ummmmmm consistently workout?

Whhhaaaaat!?! Crazy right


Faster to gain back but not that much

From a 3 months layoff in 2010, took like 1 month to get from detrained to 80% from where I was and 8 months to get from 80% to 100%. So 1 full year lost.

Not going to help at all

I stopped working out for 3 years. But now again hitting gym and with proper nutrition and exercise I gained my previously lost muscle mass within 45 days. I gained 12lbs with no belly fat. But now I do not know after this how my body will respond.

Let me just mention that detraining will tend to result in some type 1 fibers converting to type IIx which can then be turned into IIbs if you focus on strength rather than endurance.

Thanks Irish that has to be the most “out there” idea I’ve ever heard, might just work though

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What about the blood vessels that formed throughout the initial years of lifting? They shouldn’t be lost either. Among the things that were already mentioned that’s probably another reason why it’s easier to rebuild muscle mass than to build it for the first time. Although the nutrient delivery system may be limited after 2-3 years without exercise, I believe it’s still there.
I’d also say muscle memory and old habits are definitely noteworthy here. Similar to rebuilding muscle, it’s easier to relearn what was / is still there. It may be a long shot in this context, but think about what a single drink can do to a reformed alcoholic. The brain doesn’t actually “forget” things like hitting the delete button won’t delete a file from your hard drive. But it’s probably more efficient in restoring lost connections than a computer.

I ended up with bilateral tendinosis, medial and lateral, two tears in both lateral epicondyles.

Weight; 99.9kg.
Deadlift; 220kg.
Squat; 120kg (tracking patella)
Bench; 160kg.
Pull up; BW + 60kg.

18 months off. No supplementation, meals went to shit, sleep went out the window. If I can’t train everything falls apart.
Last 6 months of recovery, isometric holds at 1kg and 2kg.

Just started training again after nearly two years.

Weight; 83kg (carrying more bf than I was before)
Deadlift; 120kg.
Squat; 60kg.
Bench; 80kg.
Pullup; BW

In four weeks of training eating and supplementing, I’ve gained 3kg and maybe a 10% strength increase in the major lifts.

Not quite a newbie again, but when you look at the plates on the bar or see yourself in the mirror it’s hard not to think you might be.

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Good to hear you are doing well and are on the mend!

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