How to return to gym after LONG lay-off

How to (re) start your body transformation after a long lay-off.

This article is for those that has been off gym for 6 months or longer due to a severe injury or health issues and who need to resume training. How do you know if your body is fit/healthy enough to return to gym?



Before one can officially resume training one must first establish if the body is in a state to deal with the training resumption. In other words, is it healed enough to have the required stamina to start? If not, believe me you can do serious, serious harm.

So how do you determine if the body is ready or not?

First let’s look at the reason for your off-time from training

First you need to analyse your situation. Was it medical or non-medical?

Non-medical: If it was due to a loss of a loved/divorce or something similar? Then you were right to take off from gym. Some things in life is so important and life altering that one need time to absorb and process everything. Me, I like doing that while I am lifting, but all of us have our own way in dealing with life issues.

If it was due to work pressure/other pressures in life, well then not good! This means it is going to happen again and again until you have made a change. Stress is NOT good for building up your body. The stress hormone cortisol is a powerful catabolic hormone that makes effective muscle growth very difficult. You need to find ways of dealing with stress effectively. Sometimes the change is simply changing your attitude towards stress/busy schedules and learn to love the buzz of the fast-moving pace. We have amazing power in ourselves to decide how we react and respond to our surroundings and situations. What has to change is that fact that gym time needs to be of a higher priority in such a busy schedule. Gym must be nonnegotiable. If this means you have to do it early mornings or late at night so be it. You need to learn to allocate and hour and a half space for yourself during the day and that is your gymtime. This must be of the same priority of eating & sleeping, it must be non-negotiable. It is not optional it is a given. Let this sink in…it is NOT optional! So the fact that you sometimes do not feel like gyming…that carries NO WEIGHT. It is like sleeping & eating, you go there no matter what and you simply JUST DO IT.

If it is medical related (sickness, organ problems, etc…) well then it is a different situation. You have little control over it. But somewhere along the line you need to resume again. Most doctors could not care less in telling you to stop gyming. I found this out the hard way. After my first near death hospital visit last year I had no clear instructions regarding when and with how much I could start training. After just a few very light gym sessions (which I struggled through greatly because of no stamina) I ended up again in hospital. Simply because my body which was not healed enough for me to apply any pressure to it. Luckily I ended up with a specialist that really know what he is doing and he then insisted that I need to be completely sedentary until certain important requirements was met with my health.  The key factor here is to be very mindful of your body. You must never train through pain or apply intensity when the body has extreme weakness. If the body is right for training you will not suffer from extreme weakness and easy exhaustion. This is a sure sign the body need more time to recover.

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Now the next step

For all of the above scenario’s, you will apply the same approach.

That approach is two-fold:

  1. First determine if your body is at all fit/healthy enough to resume training
  2. Secondly when above criteria met, then generally one is cleared to start slowly training again according to a specific system. Critical in all these to get your doctor’s clearance.

So let’s look at how to determine if your body is at all fit/healthy enough to resume training

Week one – brisk walking. This is to test your stamina levels and if you are ready to return to gym.

  • Day 1: 5 min brisk walking.
  • Day 2: 10 min brisk walking.
  • Day 3: 20 min brisk walking,
  • Day 4: 30 min brisk walking.
  • Day 5: 40 min brisk walking.

If you can do the above fairly easily without having serious stamina/exhaustion problems, your body is for all practical purposes healthy and fit enough to return to gym with a specific introduction system. However, if you struggle in any means to manage above, keep your brisk walking time per day at 15-20 min and repeat for week 2.

To test if your body is ready you must pass the test of being able to do brisk walking for 40 min without too much exhaustion/stamina problem. ONLY then should you return to gym with the system explained beneath.

Slowly start training

The program you should follow to introduce gym to the body is a slow and gradual process. Joints, tendons and muscles are weak and need to follow a gradual approach to strengthen otherwise it easily can result in a serious injury.

Here is the “STARTING FROM SCRATCH” gym program for the next 3-months:

And if you want to watch the video, click here “STARTING FROM SCRATCH”

After the above is completed, then you are ready to move onto serious training ground…this is where you can start with the ADVANCED SYSTEM II to start shaping and building the body into your dream body (again):

We have one life and it is much more fragile than you might think. Apply wisdom and the body will respond in kind. Apply ignorance and you could even die. Change inside and out and become a man with integrity like a rock and a body to match!

Wish you all happy training!

Gert Louw

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Author: gertlouw

In the deepest south of South Africa you will find me. Dwelling in the most beautiful city in the world, Cape Town. I live close to God and try to follow in the footsteps of Christ as led the Holy Spirit. Other passions include Karate and Judo and wrestling (and off course surfing for many years). Karate I did for many years, Judo 4 yrs and for a short period kickboxing until I was knocked silly one time with blood all over and teeth protruding through my lip, but if I have to choose over, I would choose wrestling…simply because of the brutal power against power game with your opponent. Love it. Love my home theatre hobby, my youtube channel and spending time with family! And off course me and my son's new adventure ...and love flying my drone - DJI Phantom 4 Pro For those interested, this blog is my database of all my fitness and transformation knowledge. And NO (!) I am not getting any money for it and neither do I promote anything on it or getting sponsored by anybody. My blog is simply where I want to help other guys living a healthier life and become the best they can be, inside and out and ultimately it is my legacy I want to leave my one and only son – now 13 y/o and already eager to get his 6-pack! So donations very welcome! Just click the donation button... I started my healthy living after a very close call with death at age 40. After much hardship one of my main aims now is to assist other guys with healthy living and transforming themselves inside and out. I don’t know how much grace will still be given me, but I live now every moment to be the best I can be. To be the best bodybuilder I can be, the best father, best husband and best friend to those whom my paths crosses. I want to live a life worth living and not just do what excites me or pleases me. Feel free to contact me directly if you wish. Reading this far, the last bit important info on me you need to know, is that my anchor in life is Jesus Christ. Please bear in mind, English is my 2nd language and as a result their might be spelling, grammatical and other language errors in my blog – I do apologise for this! Wish you all many blessings. Gert Louw

8 thoughts on “How to return to gym after LONG lay-off

  1. My biggest question is with your program you are are eating every two hours are so. I can have not been able to eat breakfast in about 8 years, and with my job it is very hard to get a chance to eat. But I really want to invest in your program. Any suggestions on the eating?

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Michael…sheesh man seem to have been missing your emails…sorry man got no idea why I am not receiving them…but via this channel it seems to work. Ok, no simple answer to this. There is a lot of guys that will claim you do not need frequent meals to reach your goals. And many of them get great results not following a frequent meal system. However you will see that nearly all of them is under 40. When one is over 40 it becomes much more challenging to reach your fitness/body goals. The body is not responding as it was when your are 20 and that includes the metabolism. One very effective way of keeping the metabolism fired up is via a frequent small meal system. EVERYTHING must be in place when over 40 for the body to respond optimally for growth and fat-loss. Missing out on just a single thing you are doing wrong and that can potentially keep you from reaching your goals. Believe me…I’ve been there! So it is HIGHLY recommended that when over 40 you stick to a frequent small meal system. At least 3 of the meals can be very easily replaced with protein shakes and a fruit which takes 3 min to make and eat. So that leaves a solid meal for morning afternoon and evening. This will have to be strict according to the diet recommendations in the system. So the system can be fairly easily adapted to suit such a scenario. What is key though is that one MUST (!) always stick to the 14 day body monitoring and adjusting of diet calories. This is absolutely crucial because it is the ONLY way to align the diet perfectly for your body.
      Hope this helps Michael…

  2. I’m sorry to hear that you had to be hospitalized last year and that your medical care providers failed to provide you with adequate information about when and how fast you could return to a training regimen and start exercising again. I also appreciate your honesty and willingness to share what you learned about what you need to do first before you return to the gym or other sorts of fitness activities, such as testing to see if your body is ready – with “test runs” (or “test walks”), starting with a 5 minute brisk walks to see if your body is ready for this or isn’t. If walking exhausts you, it’s not time yet for even light exercise, as you said in your recent post, “”How to (re) start your body transformation after a long lay-off.”

    1. Hi John…thanks man…but these things are part of the cycle of life. Sometimes we make it sometimes we don’t. This time around I just (!) made it! God was good to me. Yeah I’ve learned an important lesson here. Although I never “trust” doctors and always do my own investigation I failed in this regard and thus why I am putting in place a basic system to see if body is cleared for gym. Blessings brother… G.

  3. Sent you an email a couple of days ago, was checking to see if you received it?

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. hmm Michael, although I am particularly snowed under, I had a look back and dont seem to find it. Can be my fault but can you please resend buddy?

    1. Hey Jonathan – please check again? You must not click the DONATE logo but the part on the right where you specify the amount and PAY WITH PAYPAL. If still does not work please (!) let me know! Wish u a blessed day. Gert

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