So with gym closures all over the world, we understand a few of you may be worried about losing all of your hard-earned gainz.
Never fear we have put together a quick article with a couple of tips for ensuring you protect your muscle mass.
MAINTAIN ADEQUATE PROTEIN
This is one of the most crucial components of maintaining as much muscle mass as possible in times when you are unable to access a gym. We all know that protein is the essential building block when it comes to trying to increase your muscle mass.
But it is also just as essential if not more so when trying to maintain muscle mass. The best way to do this is to aim to consume 1.8-2.2g protein per kg of bodyweight. An easier way to achieve this without tracking each meal is to try to consume a handful of a protein source with each meal.
Good protein sources can be red meats, chicken, fish or if you are vegetarian or vegan then sources high in protein would be Tofu, Quinoa, lentils, Chickpeas (understand that you will need more of a vegetarian/vegan source to get the equal amount compared to meats)
Protein Powder can be an excellent way to maintain your protein intake. It has the added benefit of being readily accessible anytime you need it. And you only need to add water (milk can also be used if are needing more calories or wanting something more like a milkshake). Now protein powder shouldn’t be used as a replacement for whole foods. Whole foods have the added advantage of getting vitamins and minerals as well as helping to fill you up for longer.
Creatine is without a doubt, the best supplement you can ever have. Creatine is quite possibly the most studied sports supplement out there to date. It has been shown to increase strength, endurance and fat-free mass (https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-33).
While you can get Creatine naturally from red meat, chicken, and fish, if your goal is to maintain/increase muscle mass then supplementation is definitely advised. Recommended intakes are a 2-3 week loading phase of 6gm and then after that a daily dosage of 3g. It should also be noted that while there are many different forms of Creatine, the most effective form is Creatine-Monohydrate.
MAINTAIN RESISTANCE TRAINING
In the absence of weights, resistance bands are going to be your best friend. They will be there to give you the ability to get some sort of resistance as opposed to just bodyweight. Now obviously they are no barbell or dumbbell but don’t dismiss how amazing they can be.
Exercise selection will be somewhat limited but if you are creative you would be very surprised what you can do, and how hard bands can be.
Tempo sets are highly under-rated. A lot of people have in their headspace that bodyweight exercises are easy and can’t do anything for you. This is where they are wrong.
If you control the tempo you will be surprised just how hard bodyweight exercises can be. A really good example of this would be Tempo Squats. You would do a standard bodyweight squat but you would take 3 seconds to go down, hold at the bottom for 2 seconds and then another 3 seconds to go up.
Sticking to a tempo of 3-2-3 isn’t the only thing you can do, there is almost no limitation of what you do, but by adding this tempo and creating more time under tension will make a lot of those home workouts a lot more difficult and effective than before.
Now contrary to popular belief intensity does not refer to how quick you can smash out a session or how sweaty you are from training. Intensity refers to how much effort you put into each and every set.
For example, someone running a strength/powerlifting based program, you will quite often see them sitting down and resting for extended periods of time (think 5mins+) between sets. But when they get up to do their next set, they look like they are putting almost everything into it.
This is what we mean by intensity when in the training environment.
Sleep is good for maintaining and building muscle but it also is great for general health and wellbeing. There are numerous advantages to getting a good night’s sleep
Reduced Stress and lower blood pressure
According to the latest research available, there is data that shows sleep helps regulate stress hormones. Over time a lack of sleep can lead to your body’s inability to regulate stress hormones leading to higher blood pressure. Research is showing that if you can achieve 6 or more hours of quality sleep it can lead to increasing your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones which can lead to decreased blood pressure.
Improved Cognitive function
Partial and total sleep deprivation (SD) has been shown to decrease cognitive function. Total SD has been shown to impair attention and working memory, but it can also affect other functions such as long-term memory and decision making. Partial SD is found to influence your ability to pay attention to.
It should be noted that total SD refers to being awake for 24-72 hours whereas partial SD is referred to reduced sleep over consecutive nights.
Can help to maintain your weight
Now let’s make this very clear. Sleep on its own will not be the biggest influence when it comes to your weight, which is always going to be calories in vs calories out. What increased and better sleep can do is help to regulate some of your hormones (leptin and ghrelin). Leptin plays a role in suppressing your appetite and encourages more energy expenditure. Lack of quality sleep can lead to your body reducing leptin levels leading to increased appetite.
Ghrelin is opposite here, it encourages feelings of hunger and lack of quality sleep can lead to increases of ghrelin in your body.
The rest could almost be included with sleep. However, in this context, we are talking about rest days. Even though you may not be training in a gym environment, you still require rest days.
There is still a chance that you can be “over-training” by doing sessions 5+ days a week with possibly double sessions on some days. Even if we are just trying to maintain our muscle mass rather than growing it, your rest days should still be considered vital.
In times when you are unable to access a gym, it can become very easy to constantly train and train and never have any rest.
We think that because we aren’t moving around big weights we then need to do more. This is not the case, you just need to ensure that your training outside the gym is just as effective as it would have been inside the gym.
Written by Timothy Steward