How worried do you get when you miss a workout or two? What if it’s a full week? Recently my client has been progressing further in his career and hasn’t been able to exercise as much as he usually would. He was getting frustrated because he felt like he wasn’t making progress and then he realised he wouldn’t be able to train for a whole week. He was really worried, so he asked me “Am I going to lose all of my gains if I miss this week of training?” I laughed at first because I realised that’s exactly what I used to think about. I would always freak out if I missed a day or two of training let alone a week because I thought I would lose muscle and strength. It turns out we don’t actually lose muscle that fast. Luckily our body will hold onto it for a little bit longer.
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Studies have shown that you can go up to 2 weeks of not exercising before you start to lose muscle and strength gains. I know that’s a pretty short time period, but at least we have that long, rather than missing one or two days of training and all of a sudden losing our gains. The reason we start to lose muscle after two weeks is because muscle is expensive for the body to keep (we burn more energy when we have more muscle). Our body wants to minimise the amount of energy we use everyday, so it thinks “Hey this muscle isn’t being used, let’s save some energy and get rid of it”. But in saying that our gains don’t disappear exactly after two weeks, it’s a gradual catabolic state that happens and the longer you don’t train, the more muscle and strength you will lose. So in order to prevent losing muscle and strength I’ve got a few tips for you.
- Keep the protein high
- Eat as healthy as possible
- Try and keep the body moving
- Workout even if it’s only 15 minute
- Don’t under eat
Keep the protein high
Protein is going to be the biggest thing to help you maintain muscle. Remember it’s the nutrient that helps build muscle, so the body still needs it to keep your muscle mass, reduce your carbs and replace them with a little more protein.
Eat as healthy as possible
Usually once we miss a few days of training all of a sudden we start to fall of the bandwagon with all of our other healthy habits, especially eating. Eating healthy is another key factor when coming to preserving muscle. Make sure you eat as healthy as you can, because the last thing your body needs its crappy food and once you start eating bad food, body fat is sure to follow.
Try and keep the body moving
We might miss some training because of a hectic work schedule or an injury and we just don’t have time to exercise. But the age old saying of “use it or lose it” still holds true. You can’t sit on your bum all day because you’re pretty much just asking your body to get rid of your muscle faster. Make sure you try and keep yourself moving (ride to work, walk around at lunch, do bodyweight exercises etc.) humans are meant to move!
Workout even if it’s 15 minutes
Yes 15 minutes will help you from losing muscle. As long as you can provide your muscles with some sort of stimulus, the body is then going to think “Oh we’re using this muscle now let’s keep it”. Things like push – ups, pull – ups, bodyweight squats and whatever else you can do are great for a quick workout to help preserve muscle.
Don’t Under eat
I suggest eating pretty much the same as you would when you train, however I would lower the carbs a little bit and replace them with protein, but apart from that I wouldn’t suggest you eat less. If you eat less food your body is going to use the food you consume for essential functions in the body and if there’s not enough energy left for keeping muscle then that’s what the body will sacrifice.
If you miss a day or two or a week at the gym I wouldn’t stress about it. Things come up in life and unfortunately we can’t always get there, but you also need to think about what your priorities are. If you just don’t go because you’re lazy well that’s a BS excuse and you need to get off the couch and get back to exercising.
Follow the steps I have given you to help you reduce your muscle loss and try to get back to training as fast as you can.
What to do next
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Remember if it’s important do it everyday.
Stay Strong, Live Long.