human body anatomy workout, front and back muscular system of muscle groups parts . flat medical scheme poster of training healthcare gym , vector illustration
Cover Image © Vectorville

3 Exercise Routines to Ease Back to the Gym

During the COVID pandemic (which I’m not 100% sure of the status of right now) I stopped going to the gym. The progress didn’t feel worth the risks. But, I kept up with certain body exercises during all of it and adapted 3 routines to tune back up (currently using the gym at my residence – still not mentally ready for a full gym).

The Fine Print:
I am NOT a personal trainer or anything like that. Just a guy who has lifted heavy things from Point A to Point B, utilizing certain techniques, for a while – sharing some of what I know/do. There is nothing in here about nutrition (which matters) or sleep/rest requirements (which matter), and if you have any medical issues – you’ll always want to consult with a medical professional before taking on any new workout program that’s putting unfamiliar stress on your body.

Anyway, this is intended to be done in 3 – 6 week chunks. Your call. And all of the exercises can be found with a quick search on Google, but I’ll call out certain ones specifically.

Bodyweight & Dumbbells Routine

An image showing an illustrated male body with muscle groups highlighted - calls out different workouts that impact different muscle areas.  Workout Routine.

If you click the image above, you should be able to see a larger version.

This routine was intended to make effective use of my body weight and very little equipment that I had at home in my home gym. The first thing you may notice is that there is no set amount of sets (the number of times you perform your repetitions of an exercise). That is intentional — this was literally just meant to get my body used to performing a chain of related exercises again (in preparation for something more like a traditional routine in the following weeks).

Each color represents a different day that things would have been done. So you’d do all of the red ones in one day; you’d do all of the blue ones in one day; etc. As you can see, there are 4 days total (to allow for 3 days of rest). I tend to do my workouts on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

A few of the things above do require equipment that you may not readily have available.

For instance, the “Bosu Nordic Hamstring Raise” requires a Bosu

The Leg Curls and Extensions I have listed up there would require something you can do those exercises with inside your home. I was using a product called MonkeyFeet to do these. Guessing you may not have that just laying around — swap those specific exercises out for things like lunges (with or without weight), mule-kicks, calf raises, or leg curls with ankle weights (you can find those at a Target or Wal-Mart near you).

If you were going to do Military Presses, you need something to raise above your head (I was using dumbbells), but — if you don’t have those on hand, check out the following push-up variations.

If you’ve NEVER done handstand push-ups, or if they’re physically impossible for you at the moment, try pike push-ups (shown below).

An illustration showing how to do a pike push-up and the muscles worked.

Once you’ve gotten that down pretty well, practice getting into a full handstand push-up (shown below) — preferably with your toes on a wall. If you’ve never done this, please check the internet for a video of getting into this one.

An illustration showing a handstand push-up.

Lastly, the Ab Routine I call out consisted of the following:

  • Sit-ups/Crunches
  • Ab Wheel roll-outs (any ab wheel will do)
  • Leg Raises (some may know these as “leg lifts” or “six inches”)
  • Weighted dumbbell side-bends

Nothing too extreme – again, just intended to get you tuned up to the physical rigors of a steady workout again. Do as much or as little of that as you like depending on what your goals are and how much you need to tune up your body before moving on to the next routine.

I would recommend sticking with the above routine for two-to-four weeks as it’s really just intended to get you loosened up for the next two.

Dumbbells Routine

This next routine was made specifically for use with dumbbells. If you do not have any laying around, you won’t be able to do this one. So, go and grab some if you want — I think they’re easier to find now that COVID has eased up a bit. I personally use these. Before you yell at me – I know, those are expensive – but they’re worth it if you have a home gym that you seriously make use of. I have had mine for a few years now and I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth from them. There are MUCH cheaper alternatives out there, but the weights where you can select your weight take up a much smaller footprint (which can be important in a home gym).

Now, the routine…

CLICK HERE for the routine (it’s a PDF).

This one is intended to be printed out and written on. You can write your weight and number of reps in one little rectangle. So if you did 40 lbs. Standing Military Presses 8 times, you might write that as “40/8” in that little rectangle for that set. Or you could just write your reps there and put your weight in the note section. And then you’d do the next set and so on. Anything that you needed to write down to remember could be scribbled in the note section.

Eventually, you’ll end up with something that looks like this…

A filled out version of my workout sheet.

As you can see, I ended up using the notes section to track my weight in this round of things, and just used the main section to track my reps for each set.

Oh, and some of the things I can’t like legally provide for you here since it’s not my content, but I can kick you links that you’ll have to work with for the time being. For instance, here’s the Ab-Ripper X video that someone posted to Facebook. And here’s the 5-Step Dumbbell Lift (originally done w/ kettlebells, but you can sub those out for dumbbells in this case).

If you have any other questions about this one, just kick them to me in the comment section below. I only did this one for 3 weeks before moving on to the next one in the gym at my residence.

Gym Machine Routine

To do this one, you’ll need access to a gym with some pretty standard machine equipment.

Here’s the link (another PDF) >> CLICK HERE

Not much to say on this one besides do the exercises as the machine instructs. The whole point of this routine is to get your body used to the motions that you’ll be doing with free weights afterward once you’re full-on “back” into the gym. For some, this may be a good stopping point (in terms of machines vs. free weights) because they prefer machine lifting. If you do, more power to you – this is a solid set of exercises that you can do in most machine-equipped gyms.

I would recommend taking this one on for 6 weeks before moving on to doing free weights again. And you’ll want to go up in weight each week if possible on each exercise.

Your final product will come out looking something like this…

A filled out version of my workout routine..

I wanted to post a shot of this one, too just so that people could see what I meant by the “So if you did 40 lbs. Standing Military Presses 8 times, you might write that as ’40/8′ in that little rectangle for that set.” comment from the previous section since I recorded things on that sheet differently.

Again, all of this is intended to get your body back into gym lifting shape if you HAD NOT been doing that work during COVID-time. If you’ve been keeping it up, good job! Ignore this entirely, or check it out and augment the programs as you see fit.

I’m also open to any tips or if anyone has any specific questions. Just share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Have fun working out!

Peace, and thanks for reading.


The soundtrack for this post provided by…

 Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Vectorville (Shutterstock)
– Body Images 1, 4, and 5 © Johnnie Weathersby III
– Body Image 2 & 3 © Unknown

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Created by Alex Volkov