You can absolutely maintain muscle mass without the use of weights, but don’t expect the same results that you get in the gym, to magically transform your body. In order for muscles to grow, we have to periodically change our strength training program, from more reps (and medium weights) to lower reps (heavier weight) in order to create a nice balance of hypertrophy and strength. Seeing as most of the world can’t get to a gym anytime soon, maintaining what we have – and doing what we can to enhance our own strength – is a great goal to stick by.
What you can work on during this ‘stay at home phase’ is to create even more mobility. I know for me personally (and a lot of you may resonate with this one) feel that this is a very important part of your training journey, but never seem to have time for adding this important component in. At this time, there is no excuse, therefore, we can implement mobility exercises within our home training routine. What will this do for us when we get back into the gym? It will greatly enhance our lifts, make us stronger and stop us from becoming injured anytime soon. Just think of how much your stability and range of movement will improve. Think of this as a well needed hibernation from heavy ass lifting, and more of a regeneration phase.
Here are some tips to help you though this phase and maintain as much muscle mass as you could possibly achieve.
4 ways to maintain that precious muscle mass
- Use body weight for exercises. These of course, need to be executed with intention. You must feel the mind body connection at all times. If you have some resistant bands, then this will become a lot easier. The bands add a lot of intensity to hundreds of different movements, such as lunges, push ups, squats and shoulder presses. The varieties are endless. If you don’t have anything to add, then focus on making the movements both explosive and dynamic. Think of integrating a couple of movements at the same time (like a lunge and jump etc). You can also alternate this by also performing movements quite slowly. For instance, when you squat, perform the downward movement as slowly as you possibly can, and the upward movement. Keep going until you feel the burn intensely. This means you’re doing a great job – just don’t stop!
TIP: Aim to perform the exercise you do not like, such as chin ups. I know they are challenging, but we all start from zero. Aim to try out negatives and then move onto doing just one chin up. Over the months, you will most definitely achieve your chin or pull up goals.
- Plyometric movements. Still on the talk of explosive movements, plyometric will add a new dimension to those muscles. There are many forms of plyometrics that you can do – things like burpee (yes, I know, I dislike these too – but why not?), jumping lunges or squats, clapping push ups and even skipping. If you can still get outside, why not try the balcony, backyard or a nearby park (as well as practicing your social distancing). If you are outdoors, why not find yourself a hill and some hill sprints in between your plyometric movements? It will surely add a new dimension to your training, and even possibly make some muscle gains (not to mention a bit of fat loss).
- Consider alternating your volume. I order to make a difference to your muscles,
you must focus on higher levels of volume, perhaps even adjusting to super-setting or circuit type training. Whilst doing this, you must completely focus on your form and make sure the movement is being executed with intention. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are moving as much as possible during the day. Go for a long walk, several times, run or dash up and down stairs, put a resistant band around your legs and side squat. Do whatever you can regularly, so you are encouraging movement in your body and triggering muscle activation.
- Don’t forget your diet. I had to mention a diet, as it’s the key building block to your success. Now is the time to really pull back and make sure you are eating as best as you possibly can -that means still consuming protein. Protein is the building block of muscle, and it’s important to keep consuming it. Aim for the 2g or protein per kg of body weight. If you want to lose body fat, then try intermittent fasting. If you have any underlying health issues, always talk to your doctor first. Fasting is great for both fat loss and muscle building. It will help you to maintain your body fat percentage. It will also allow you to integrate your cheat meals regularly, without experiencing negative body composition effects.
I think we must all get a bit more creative in our choices of exercises and focus more on our dietary plan. Let’s spend this time pushing through our imbalances and bringing more movement to our bodies. There has never been a better time to shift the focus somewhat.
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