How to Start Back Up at the Gym after Quarantine

By Elliot Fisher MS, ATC, CSCS, PES

It’s been a long handful of weeks for gyms goers during the coronavirus pandemic.  Gyms are starting to reopen, and you might not know how best to get back into the swing of things. You might be tempted to get back to the gym with a vengeance and go too hard too soon.  Here are a handful of tips to consider when getting back to the gym!


If you used to go to the gym everyday or on most days of the week, you might not want to start back by going everyday.  If you haven’t been working out consistently your body won’t be conditioned to exercise so each session will be more taxing than they were before the quarantine.   Start back slowly, maybe two or three sessions the first week and then increase by a session or two until you are back to your regular schedule!


I’m a huge advocate of high training volumes.  I usually recommend 10-20 sets/muscle per week.  When you go back, start with low volumes.  Two to three sets per exercise at most.  Focus on maybe 5-10 sets/week per muscle.  For some exercise like squats and deadlifts you might only need one working set to be sufficient.  Go up week to week as you feel you’re able to!


When starting back up you won’t be as strong as you were before.  When choosing a working weight to use go lighter than you normally would.  It will likely feel heavier than you would expect! If you grab a weight and it feels fine feel free to go up in weight on the next set.  

I also usually like to train within a couple reps of failure on most sets.  Maybe 3-0 reps away from failure.  When going back don’t be afraid to stop 3, 4, or even 5 reps away from failure.  

Other Considerations

As gyms start to reopen up it’s not clear how that will look.  Some commercial facilities will have you schedule in advance when you are going to workout and may only let you workout for a limited time frame.  Most gyms will likely only let a fraction of the people in.  As you ease back into your workouts understand the reality of our situation and do the best you can.  If you workout at a commercial gym and are only allowed to go for 45 minutes when you used to workout for 60-75 minutes, accept it and do what you can.  If you want to workout five days a week but can’t get in everyday because there’s limited capacity, do what you can.  

We will be reopening on June 5th! We’re hoping gyms around the country will get to open sooner rather than later and we can all transition back to normal.  Keep grinding everyone! 



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