How long does it take to lose strength gains? This was the most asked question from my Q&A series #selfcaresunday.
Well, since our daily movement intake dropped drastically lately there is no surprise that we are starting to wonder what is going to happen to our gains during quarantine time. Especially if you have been working hard towards a fitness or body composition goal in the months prior lockdown.
Let me break it for you; it is not yet time to throw a pity party.
How much of your muscle mass and strength/endurance you’ll lose is subjective person to person and depends on the type of training and how regular you were with your sessions up to day one of Quarantine. But you won’t lose everything you have sweated for overnight. It may be that you won’t lose any of it at all, provided – of course that you will get to grips with a good exercise routine during lockdown.
1- Pick only trusted and certified sources
There are plenty of classes and workout ideas you can find online at the moment, but before taking advice from anyone make sure that the source of information is qualified enough to be trustworthy – and don’t cause you injuries. As it’s a really bad timing for those! And don’t let the amount of followers on Instagram fool you…I’d recommend doing a quick background check – look at their Linkedin profile or website, check their qualifications, if their knowledge is relevant and current and for how long they have been training clients for. Experience with clients is a very important one: training somebody else is very different from training yourself.
Then when you picked your trusted sources…
2 – Make a plan for the week.
This will vary of course depending on what your goals are: strength, flexibility, general fitness, training for a race, body composition…but a general piece of advice is to MIX IT UP. So for instance, even if your goal is improving your endurance try not to fall in the temptation to do HIIT every day. Make sure you alternate High Intensity session to strength and recovery ones for better performance and again don’t risk injuries. A good way to know that you are doing the right amount of everything is to follow a plan. A general piece of advice is to MIX IT UP and to not underestimate the importance of rest days. So for instance, even if your goal is improving your fitness try not to fall into the temptation to do HIIT every day. Make sure you alternate High Intensity sessions to strength and recovery ones for better performance and again don’t risk injuries. A good way to know that you are doing the right amount of everything is to follow a plan. Beside my fitness app, I have recently released a 10-week home-workout e-book – check them out HERE.
3 – Don’t underestimate bodyweight exercise
I wrote more about this here but to give you and idea, you CAN still build strength and muscle mass using only body weight exercises. With those, you want to focus on stressing the system with enough volume, particularly if you use limited equipment. How you do that? Focus on mastering technique, adjusting tempo (how fast/slow you perform the movement) and give your 100% when you train. Think of a press up; first of all strip back to its technique and make sure you are performing the full range of motion (ROM) with good form. Then you can make it harder by slowing the tempo, hold it at the bottom, decline it, try lifting one arm, one leg and don’t give in until you master each progression.
4 – Use these tricks to keep your motivation up
Make a killer playlist. Selecting tracks that match the mood or intensity of your workout can help you push harder, speed up your pace or power through fatigue during the challenging parts of the session. I recommend to always workout with music and mixing up your playlists to keep things fresh and exciting. If you need some point where to start, checkout my Spotify profile. You can also challenge a friend, or with lots of studios and trainers broadcasting online take this opportunity to try something new.
5 – Get ahead of the game of your Autumn races
Most marathons and triathlon have been postponed till later in the year. It is not time to throw in the towel and sit on the couch until 16 weeks before the race though. If you are planning to run a marathon and you are still allowed to exercise outdoors or if you have a treadmill, aim to better your 10K time. Also focus on strengthening those muscles which will support you during the race and your recovery. So your core, hamstrings and glutes in particular. I recommend to focus on single sided exercises like Bulgarian Lunges, Pistol Squats, Single-Legged Hip Thrusts and Deadlifts etc… If you were planning a bike race or a triathlon, consider to get a spin bike or a cycling trainers for safe indoor training.
6 – Do good for your body
Why not playing the long game and aim to use exercise as a way to future-proof our bodies? This seems a great opportunity to do that! For how boring it might sound it is paramount that we counterbalance High Intensity and Resistance Sessions with Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) and Mobility exercises. Maybe you can get into a routine to wake your body up with 10 minutes of those after your morning cup of coffee or to help you wind down in the evening. While the risk that you’ll get injured by doing those is very low, the chances that you’ll notice the benefit by reducing tightness and pain in your body is very high.