Many of us are probably thinking the same thing: When our gym reopens and we get under that barbell, the heavy weight we lifted easily just a few months ago will feel like it can break us in half. Sets of squats with 400, 300, and even 200 pounds will be a thing of the past — welcome to the new normal.

For those living in states that haven’t allowed gyms to reopen, the fact of the matter is that we’ll be a little bit weaker when we set foot in an iron paradise than we were when the coronavirus shut them down in March (unless you have a fully-stocked home gym that is).

Thinking about how long it can take to get back to a “new normal” can make us sweat. So how long will that take, and what will our workouts look like when we step back into the gym?

It all depends on where we were when the doors closed.

We start to lose strength and muscle two to five months after we stop lifting. The longer we’ve been regularly training, the longer it takes to weaken. If you’ve only lifted for two months, you’ll quickly lose what you’ve built.

But whether we’ve been training for a lifetime or just started six months ago, we can regain much of our strength and muscle after just a few weeks of consistency thanks to muscle memory.

Jesse Irizarry, CSCS, is a strength coach and writer. He has close to 15 years of professional experience. He began as a college strength and conditioning coach and moved on to found JDI Barbell, NYC’s leading dedicated strength and conditioning gym specializing in foundational principle-based strength training, Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting, and combat sports. Jesse has competed in strength sports like powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting but also enjoys and practices everything from Muay Thai, to different Yoga practices, to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to trail runs and hiking. You can check out more of his writing on his website

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