Getting Back to Training After a Short Break 

  • minute read

So I had to pause my training because of traveling for a week to be with family in the North East for Thanksgiving. Training would be an impossibility because of the schedule leaving no such opportunity. Prior to Thanksgiving my training was going very well, having been extremely consistent with my training and had completed a successful linear progression block. Upon my return home I had to hit the gym and figure our how to get back to training after this short break.

I have learned from experience that getting back to training should be taken more carefully when over 50. The reality is that strength gains are held onto for much longer than cardio gains. This means that the muscles are able to exert the requisite force to move the barbell just fine. What gives is the work capacity, and the feeling of fatigue will set in much more quickly than before the break. If you are like me you'll just feel creaky with things just feeling not so great.

Prior to the break I had completed the following session:

Squat: 3 x 5 x 345 lbs (157 kg)
Bench: 3 x 5 x 196 lbs (89 kg)
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 385 lbs (175 kg)
Press (from previous workout): 3 x 5 x 126 lbs (57.25 kg)

On a previous similar break I came back and did the following workout:

Squat: 3 x 5 x 315 lbs (143 kg)
Bench: 3 x 5 x 190 lbs (86.4 kg)
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 335 lbs (152.25 kg)

These numbers were less than I had done on the workout before the break, but were just too aggressive for the return. In this case I felt not bad when I was doing the exercise and was able to complete it without issue, as I had the strength to do so. The issue was in recovery.

The next day the soreness kicked in and I'm walking around like the tin man! The following day, when my next workout was scheduled, I warmed up as usual but boy was it feeling tough. I could hardly squat without huge discomfort. I was barely able to do a single of 275 lbs. I had to switch the rest of the workout into just light exercises and it was a complete bust. I needed to reset and start again.

This time I have learned better and have just completed the following workout:

Squat: 3 x 5 x 275 lbs (125 kg)
Bench: 3 x 5 x 185 lbs (84 kg)
Deadlift: 1 x 5 x 350 lbs (159 kg)

This is a much more sustainable set of numbers and I expect to be fully recovered for the next session. I will then do a mini-linear progression with bigger jumps than normal so that I can get back to the pre-break numbers pretty quickly. It's important not to go too light, if strength maintenance and growth is the goal, but also to check the ego at the door.

The absolute numbers being lifted only have significance to my personal training at where I am today and I've only included them to provide comparative numbers for a restart after a short break. Everyone is different and so each should have a training schedule that matches them.


I'm Mark and I am an entrepreneur and IT specialist by trade, but have become an avid fan of strength training - especially for people fifty and above.  I love writing about my strength training journey and sharing my experiences so that it may inspire others to do the same.

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