The 7 steps to get back into the gym

We’ve all heard the reasons why we should work out, as well as trying to navigate the acres of articles on how to work out, many contradicting one another but what if you need to start back at the gym after a long lay-off due to work or injury? Well, that is a predicament I found myself in and the subject of today’s blog article.

The gym is a magical place, somewhere that as the numbers go up, the fat drops off, the muscle grows as well as the confidence in amazing displays of personal record-smashing lifts. That’s how it should go, a wonderful arena of challenges, easily dispatched by your skilled hands as they hit the next level, then like Arnold, you can crush your personal records, hear the praise of the gym folk and be king of your confidence as you eat your well earned high protein feast.

  • Time isn’t perfect: There will never be a perfect time to start again, there will never be a perfect time, an optimum moment. Time will not stand still, no one is waiting for you to attend, people are just getting on with their own life. By waiting, you are only wasting your own time. Start now and with that extra time, who knows what extra challenges you will complete on your way to gym superstardom.


  • Yesterday helps tomorrow: Help yourself attend by prepping your equipment the night before. Make it a ritual, to pack your gym bag with the necessary equipment and place it at your door ready for the next day. If you prep meals, simply have them ready in a carrier bag to grab on your way out of the door or making breakfast. Eliminate thought and effort, make the action as simple as possible. We are trying to build consistency now and get you back in the gym. If you leave packing your gym bag to the morning, any number of excuses may come up, not to go to the gym. You need to make this as simple as pick up the bag and go or go straight after work. Left leg and then right leg, they call it walking. Switch off your brain and go to the gym, eliminate the need for thought in the morning or after work and you’ll find you will go far more than you don’t. After a few weeks, it will become a habit and you will never need to think about it anymore, you will just do it.
  • Praise the good, learn from the bad: Remember that you are just back. You will not be as good as you were before. You will be down a level or two, you will be rusty and need to get back into your groove. The best thing to do will be to drop down the weights or level or intensity you are working out at to avoid over taxing yourself and becoming hurt or injured. By starting at an easier pace, you will recover faster and be able to warm back into things. Expect to be worse than you previously were before the break. This is to normal, to be expected and to be honest it is helpful. Your body will need to be warmed back up to lifting or working out again at high intensity. Be kind on yourself, set mini goals and be glad and proud of yourself when you achieve them. If you fail, instead of looking at the failure as a whole, be productive, look at reasons why it might have happened. Pick a reason, one reason and in addition to working out, focus on fixing that reason too. When it has been fixed, look to fix another reason when or if (think positively!) failure happens. To go straight back into it, you may hurt yourself, so working out at lower levels will allow you to start again after the break, get back into things, practice at safe working levels and then when you feel ready and confident, crush your goals like the little bitches that they are!


  • Eat like a King, sleep like a baby, work out like a beast: Remember though that no matter how hard you work out, you need to recover. The problem that many face is that when they return to the gym after a long lay off, they come back when a vengeance. They push themselves to the limit and try to come in every day and go balls to the wall. Sadly, we aren’t designed to do this and injury or lack of interest in the gym after a short period is right around the corner. Rest and recovery are just as important to working out in the grand scheme of things. You grow muscle while you are resting, not at the gym lifting weights or doing the exercise of your choice. Your diet is also important. Your body uses what you put into it, to rebuild after you tear down the muscle structure whilst working out. If you put in a shit fuel, you will get a shit body. Eat a good selection of protein and good foods and you will get good results. For a great source on eating well, check out Fit Men Cook a great website, that teaches great recipes, how to source and store good quality foods, eat healthier and be a diet machine.
  • Go for one, aim for many: Don’t put unrealistic demands on yourself. A surefire way to fail is to expect to do everything, as that is impossible. Start small. Aim small. By setting your sights on the lowest branch of possibility, you will be boosted with confidence when you easily achieve the branch. This will bouy you onto going for the next branch. So what should you do? Aim to come in for one session and do one activity or exercise. That’s it. One. No more. So if you come in and do one exercise, you have already achieved your goal. No pressure. If you don’t like it on that day, you can go away after your one thing, you don’t need to stay. You will find however that after doing one thing, you will be warmed up and confident and wanting to continue the good vibes of success or eliminate the taste of defeat from a poor showing by doing better at another exercise etc. Aim for one and you’ll most likely stay for the full workout. Try it anytime you don’t feel like working out.
  • You are not a unique snowflake: No one is looking at you. No one cares what you are doing or how much you are lifting. If someone laughs at you, they are the weak one, a true man builds up others not tears down strangers. Everyone is doing thier own thing. You should do your own. Turn up and exercise. During your rest period, look around. You’ll notice that no one pays anyone any attention ussually. You may hear or even get the odd compliment or form tip from people but for the most part, everyone comes in, works out and leaves without bothering each other, with a head nod of recognition or a hi, the standard greeting between the common users of the gym before they work out and focus on their own shit again. Exercise tends to be an individual thing in the gym (unless a class and even then no one cares as they are too worried about what they are doing and possibly looking out of place to worry about what you are doing), so people focus on themselves. Stop worrying and work out. No one is judging you.
  • Learn the way: Avoid the possibility of injuring yourself and increase your chance of improving your technique by learning the skills and techniques of your craft. In the modern world, Google is your friend. You can find millions of technique articles, instructional videos and guides and fixes on the smallest components of any sport, exercise, and activity on Google or Youtube. If you are interested in powerlifting, and would like to improve any of the compound lifts and lifting techniques, you would be hard pushed to find a better collection of form videos from around the internet, which we have collated for your ease at the Next Level Guy Youtube channel. All videos are the propety of their respective owners, I have just scoured the internet for great form guides and instructional videos so you don’t need to source them yourself. Click here to see the various playlists. Remember to subscribe as it is normally updated daily!


To help you, I have special deals with a number of companies that can help you work out, exercise and get back into sport. For the latest affiliate deals that I have on offer, please visit the Affiliate deals page on this website. (Please note: an affiliate site is a company that I support and advertise, where I believe in their products enough to promote. I make a small amount off anything you buy using my links and code. All monies are used to develop this website further and make me happy!). You just need to click on the website that you want to get the discount at, or click on the affiliate deal that you want and either enter the code mentioned or enter ‘Next Level Guy‘ as one word in the discount code for the deal or 10% off suitable purchases.

Start now. Start small. Avoid pressure. Congratulate yourself and learn from the mistakes. With some simple setup and action, you can be back in the gym and crushing your PR’s before you can say ‘what break from the gym?!’.

If you liked or hated this article, I would like to hear from you. Please leave a comment, question or general rant in the comments section below. I appreciate all feedback.

About the Author
I would modestly describe myself as a Website Badass, Blogging Guru and Self Improvement Wizard! I'm a blogger and entrepreneur who writes to help men develop and better their lives using examples from popular media. My personal journey has been marked by awkwardness and awesomeness, OCD and 'OMG'. I'm 33, a Teuchter and currently resides in the United Kingdom. I've set my own foot on fire whilst reading and been a midwife to sheep! I also run for your website needs!

2 comments on The 7 steps to get back into the gym

  1. Eleanor says:

    Great article really enjoyd your piece what struk me was how a lot of this can be applied to other areas of your life as well great image as well

  2. Petal says:

    Good read, thanks. I think I’ve got a way to go before I’m at this level though, first got to get up and start moving.

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