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I have on several occasions taken an extended break from the gym for various reasons. When I return, I find it hard to continue my workouts (even at a lower weight) for about 2-3 weeks. Muscles take longer to recover for that period (e.g. they will be very sore for more days than usual) and starting to lift weights again for the first couple of days has on occasion even made me vomit afterwards. I also find it hard to complete the full workout that I would have done before and end up skipping a couple workouts because of muscle pain / inability to continue using them effectively.

With limited time (let's say 20-30 minutes 3 times per week) and mostly my own body to use, is there a way I can retain my tolerance to weightlifting so that when I return to the gym, my muscles will recover as they were and I won't feel unwell after the first few sessions?

Note: Obviously I will need to work back up to the weight I was using, I don't go back after 2 months and try to lift the same weight I was on.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I do a lot of traveling, both for leisure and business related, and I heard about a book called You are your own gym. It is a fantastic source of exercises that will help you through a exercise schedule using your body, my tip is to use also whatever you have at hand, laptop bag, trekking backpack, doors, bed sides and so on.

I have followed many exercises of this book when traveling and very much recommend.

With that in mind I really do not think that it is a substitute for a real gym so whenever you are back you will notice the difference, both in power and bulk.

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Just to add some real life experience, I went from Olympic lifting and being decently strong in a weight room to living in a developing nation for two years pretty much restricted to gymnast rings and body weight. Back in the gym again, it took me about two months to get to 80% of where I was. And because of what I did for those two years, I'm much more flexible and have worked on a lot of imbalances because of the single-leg nature of body weight stuff. –  Eric Kaufman Oct 7 at 3:35

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