It’s Time to Get Back into the Gym: June 30-Day Challenge

Finally! You’re back in the gym! Over the last few weeks (and the next few weeks), post-pandemic life is starting to open, and yes, that means you can finally get back into training with heavy weights! For the last year (and some change), many people haven’t been able to do that – limited to bodyweight or other home workouts. But now, gyms are starting to reopen their doors, and you suddenly have a wealth of training options, everything from dumbbells and barbells to cable crossover machines and med balls.

All of that means you can work through some serious muscle-building sessions. The kicker: Your body might not be ready for all that. One of the challenges of venturing back into the gym is picking just the right lifts. Sure, you haven’t had a chance to back-squat with heavy weights in awhile or max out your bench press but jumping right back into those lifts your first day (or heck, week) in the gym isn’t always the best move.

Your body needs time to re-acclimate to heavy weights, and that calls for doing smart lifts in the gym. That’s where this routine comes in. Do it three to four times a week for the first three weeks you’re back in the gym, and you’ll lay the rock-solid foundation you need to build serious strength and muscle and tackle anything in the weight room.

Directions:

Do this workout three to four times a week, resting for at least one day between each session. Warm up for each workout with 1 minute each of planks, jumping jacks, and reverse lunges, then jump into the workout. Do each exercise in order. Rest 60 seconds between each set.

Barbell Romanian Deadlift

Stand holding a loaded barbell at your hips, core and glutes tight, shoulder blades squeezed. Keeping your abs tight, push your butt back and bend at the waist, lowering the bar along your shins, keeping it close to your shins the entire time. Lower until your torso is parallel with the ground, or you feel your hamstrings tighten, whichever comes first. Pause for 1 second, then stand, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Dumbbell Alternating Step-Up

Stand holding heavy dumbbells at your sides, core and glutes tight. Stand in front of a heavy box or bench. Place your right foot on the bench or box. Then step up so both feet are on the bench, without leaning your torso forward. Lower slowly. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 8.

Seated Cable Row

Set up in a cable row machine and grasp a V-Bar with both hands. Tighten your abs and keep your torso perpendicular to the ground. Bend your knees. Keeping your abs tight, squeeze your shoulder blades, then pull your elbows back toward your torso, pulling the weight. Pause when your upper arms are parallel to your torso, then slowly release the weight. That’s 1 rep; do 4 sets of 8 to 10.

Dumbbell Press

Sure, you want to do that barbell press maxout, but not yet! Start with heavy dumbbell presses. Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor, dumbbells held directly over your shoulders, abs tight. Bend at the shoulders and elbows, lowering the weights to within an inch of your chest, then press back up. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10. Follow each set with 15 bodyweight pushups.

Eccentric-focused Hanging Leg Lift

Hang from a pullup bar, shoulder blades tight, legs straight. Without swinging your torso, bend your knees and pull your knees up to your chest. Pause for 1 second, then lower slowly for 3 seconds. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 6.
Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

Fitness Director for Men’s Health Magazine and CSCS trainer -

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He's logged training time with NFL and track athletes, and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men's Health in 2017, he served as a sports and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.