Returning after a long layoff Returning after a long layoff

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Thread: Returning after a long layoff

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Question Returning after a long layoff

    • texas starting strength seminar september 2020
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    Hello all!

    Been awhile but I'm back. I need help on how to proceed.

    Starting Strength was a savior of mine in my early 30s. I went from years of doing bullshit split routines in the gym (and not getting anywhere), to really putting on some strength, and some muscle. I started at 185 lbs.

    After progressing past the novice stage, I further my gains by trying all manner of intermediate programming (HLM, TM, 5/3/1). I got up to a bodyweight of 226 lbs. Best 1RM in lbs on 5/3/1: DL 505, SQ 435, BP 305 (torn rotator cuff in my teens). Not the best, but respectable. My ultimate goal at the time was 5/4/3 plate lift for the big three respectively.

    It has been a year since I've been in the gym. Life, a promotion, and extensive international travel have prevented it. Now, I'm working from home (for the foreseeable future due to Covid), and feel this is the perfect time to eat myself silly and get back my gains (or Gainzzzz if Jordan is reading).

    My question is, am I a beginner again? Do I go back to LP, or pick up at a lowered volume/intensity Intermediate program? I am now 38 years old, so my recovery is mediocre to say the least. Mainly due to having real difficulty in staying asleep more than 6 hours even taking melatonin.

    I read a post by Andy Baker, and it recommends testing 1RM, and starting volume at 70% (5x5), and intensity at 90% of my new lower 1RMs.

    For reference, I tested this yesterday all in 1 day (mistake as I'm VERY sore today). I got:

    DL 378, SQ 295, and BP 195

    My thoughts are to eat around 300g protein/4000 cals a day. I have access to high quality food, and this amount can be eaten very "cleanly." My carb intake must be moderate due to a history of Type 2 Diabetes. I am planning on supplementing with creatine monohydrate, BCAA's, Beta-Alanine, and HMB. I have copoius amounts stocked away from my previous efforts.

    For programming, start a HLM routine with the Heavy day volume 5x5 at 75% of 1RM, titrating down to 5x3, and 5x1 respectively, when I can't add weight to the bar in a given rep range. Simultanously, Meduim day starting at 3x5 @90% of Heavy (or roughly 60-70% of 1RM), and moving that up in volume balance respective to Heavy (5x3 Heavy makes Medium 4x5, then 5x1 is 5x5 Medium), with drops in intensity % for Medium as volume increases. Once Heavy has been run out on 5x1, retest 1RMs and recycle. Possibly moving squats to a top set with backoff for a change. Again, this is based off a HLM template suggested by Mr. Baker.

    My plan would spread heavy work through the week. Like this:

    Monday - Heavy Squat, Medium Bench, Medium DL
    Wednesday - Light Squat, Heavy Bench, Bent over rows (or a "light" pull day)
    Friday - Medium Squat, OHP (or light push day), Heavy DL

    Is this a solid plan? Should I move the weight up 5lbs a week, or more? At this rate it would take 4-5 months to reach previous PRs in some lifts, which to me seems excessive.

    Any thoughts would be welcome and greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    Why not just follow the NLP procedure from the beginning, to the letter? From what I understand that's what most people do after long layoffs and they end up skyrocketing deep into new PRs by the time linear progression slows. Thats what I plan to do when I get back in the gym again. You will probably end up starting at higher weights than your first NLP too, and you probably know more about lifting and diet than you did then so you can follow the program even better.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Hmm. Do you have any links to posts about this?

    I hadnít read anywhere that people went back to Novice programming after a lay-off.

    If that is the fast way back, Iíd prefer it, but Iíd be very surprised to hit new PRs on NLP.

    To hit a Squat PR, that would entail LP taking me deep into the 300s 3x5s. 3 times a week.

    I switched from NLP to intermediate last run (2 plus years ago) in the very early 300s to assist with recovery. It then took me about y months to move that up into the upper 300s with intermediate programming.

    I thank you for the suggestion, would love to read more.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Intricate35 View Post
    Hmm. Do you have any links to posts about this?
    Practical Programming for Strength Training, 3rd edition – The Aasgaard Company

    I hadn’t read anywhere that people went back to Novice programming after a lay-off.
    Really? It's been discussed on this board for about 13 years.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2017
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    Coach RIP!

    I own all your books.

    In reading PPFST, Iím missing where it says to return to NLP after a long layoff, and a google search doesnít return any posts that mention it specifically.

    That being said, I trust what you say, and if itís the way itís to be done, itís time for me to reverse YNDTP.

    As I can still handle middling weights, would you recommenced a starting point?

    After testing today, I can handle 80% of the posted 1RMS for 3x5s without much of an issue even in my de-trained condition.

    Thanks again for commenting.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Intricate35 View Post
    To hit a Squat PR, that would entail LP taking me deep into the 300s 3x5s. 3 times a week.
    The novice program does not squat heavy 3 times a week until the end. When recovery becomes an issue, one of the first steps is to chop off some weight on your middle day for squats. Deadlifts also eventually have their frequency lowered in a similar fashion by switching off with power cleans and then chin ups to lower it even further. I can't recall if the blue book has the light squat day step but the grey book does. There are also forum posts about it I've seen. But I have heard and read in many, many places about beginning as a novice again after a long break from training. Maybe it won't last long for you. Maybe it will. But so long as it lasts, it'll be faster than just training as an intermediate with some super relaxed loading protocol.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    This article by Andy Baker may be of some use as well. Coming Back After a Layoff | Andy Baker

    For the record, I had two layoffs, one prior to the gyms closing, with a week back training before the closures hit. 3 weeks the first time, and then about a month as I accumulated equipment to train at home. I had initially taken Andy's suggestion of testing conservative singles and then returning to intermediate programming based on a percentage of those, and I've continued to do that now that I'm training again with a 4-day split. After the first couple of weeks I've been able to take larger weekly jumps.

    My press is back to within 3 lbs of my previous PRs (mostly because I was able start training it earlier prior to building a rack) and my bench and DL are at about 85% of my previous PRs as of this week. I'm taking my time on the squat (only 5lb jumps per week) due to prior injury in February so it is lagging a little behind the other lifts.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommanderFun View Post
    The novice program does not squat heavy 3 times a week until the end. When recovery becomes an issue, one of the first steps is to chop off some weight on your middle day for squats. Deadlifts also eventually have their frequency lowered in a similar fashion by switching off with power cleans and then chin ups to lower it even further. I can't recall if the blue book has the light squat day step but the grey book does. There are also forum posts about it I've seen. But I have heard and read in many, many places about beginning as a novice again after a long break from training. Maybe it won't last long for you. Maybe it will. But so long as it lasts, it'll be faster than just training as an intermediate with some super relaxed loading protocol.
    Yes, I've seen the "advanced" NLP and in my last run I finished running out LP doing what amounts to HMH, and Deadlifting once every 5 workouts. So this is a very good point.

    My records show me getting to 325x5 for squats, and 405x5 deadlift before exhausting LP and moving over to the TM.

    My new plan, from Coach Rips comments is to go back to LP, is to eat 4000-5000 cals a day, and get as far as I can before things return to normal, and am back to a regular work life (traveling) therefore a reduced workload capacity due to travel diet, and reduced sleep (hotels 4 nights a week). The question becomes, where to start?

    As you can see from my testing, My current strength, even after a long layoff is close to where some end LP (albiet that is the very low end, I've heard of some genetically advantaged taking LP into the 500s). My testing was also very conservative. I probably had another 25-40 lbs in my squat/deadlift for a bone on bone 100% effort.

    I know that ultimate strength matters little when it comes to programming classification, but it is a factor. I am operating at closer than a true novice in regards to "ultimate" genetic potential.

    To facilitate the quickest return to previous PR's, AND promote a lengthy run of NLP (since this will give the most time efficient gainzzz), what should be the starting % based off 1RMs? Or should it be an RPE type measurement? As I understand it, the body needs more time to reacclimate to workload than it does to ultimate strength. There also is not much written regarding supercompensation in regards to a load previously handled. To illustrate, at one time 295 (current 1rm after detraining) was a warmup squat. Now, 255 3x5 would be rather taxing for me. Is my body just re-acclimating itself through "muscle memory," or am I stressing/supercompensating all over again? I guess the question really is, what load is appropriate to create an overload to drive supercompensation in a detained lifter.

    I am scheduled to return to travel for work at the end of June. Giving me almost a month and a half to optimize my training.

    Your thoughts are greatly appreciated . Thank you!!!

  9. #9
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    NLP doesn't use percent of 1RM for starting weights. I think the only programming in the grey book that even uses 1RM percentages in the grey book is the advanced stuff, because it actually takes those people long stretches of time to bump the 1RM up. Novice 1RM changes every workout, intermediate changes every week. The blue book has the procedure for determining start weights in the squat chapter. I personally wish it were set aside with its own portion with a bit more detail, probably along with the other programming info, but once you know where it is, you know where it is.

  10. #10
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    Aug 2013
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    starting strength coach development program
    Post your best sets of 5.

    Start with the empty bar and work up sets of 5 until it is difficult yet manageable. If you want a percentage to give you some hard numbers to aim for start at 70% of your most recent 'best set of 5' and if it's still too easy add to that until it's not. Just make sure you don't baby the deadlift.

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