Since all gyms are closed at the moment and only a few are lucky enough to have the key to a gym, or have a home gym, I get a lot of questions about what is the best approach for preventing the decline of all that muscle mass that you have spent months or months on. even years of work and thousands of euros in food and supplements.
Because imagine, soon we will all come out of this apocalyptic phase as normal mortals and no one will look up to us for the greats that we actually are and we will no longer receive the respect that our physics normally command among the common people.
Just kidding, of course, but I understand the pity of all the investments, both in time and effort and money very well; is it really all in vain if this continues for a long time? Regardless of the uncertainty as to whether money will still be worth its worth in toilet paper, but that is a completely different question.
LIKE SNOW IN THE SUN?
First of all, let me start with a reassurance; As you could read in a previous article about the different forms of hypertrophy, there are different forms of hypertrophy, of which you could call sarcoplasmic hypertrophy as false hypertrophy.
The extra kilos that you can gain in this way can go very quickly, but are also the least permanent; so it may very well be that you seem to be shrinking considerably in front of the mirror and the eye in the past week and certainly also in the coming period and perhaps give up kilos on the scales. This will mainly be moisture and glycogen (if you use your common sense, more on this later).
The more permanent pounds of muscle mass take much longer to build, but are also much more persistent when it comes to losing; finally, the fusion of satellite cells with muscle cells takes the most time, but it is also the most permanent form of ‘muscle mass’. This is where muscle memory comes from. So, even if you were to lose a lot of muscle mass during this time, building back to your current levels is much easier and faster than it took you the first time to get to this level.
And to conclude this paragraph: This period can also be one in which you give your tendons and joints time to recover. Kind of a deload. That does not mean that we will just hang on the couch and eat chips just like all other useless Dutch people (as Peter Pannekoek comfortingly spoke to us last week); we can still do enough!
HOW DO WE LIMIT THE DAMAGE?
This story (and certainly the part about the more permanent gains) applies to the situation that we are going to lose muscle mass; but, aren’t there things we can apply to mitigate the damage? Certainly.
As always, the growth of muscle mass (and therefore breakdown) is influenced by a number of factors, which I have written many articles about. You can dream them by now I think, but I will mention them again:
- Stress / sleep
Of course, almost everyone’s rhythm is significantly affected during this time. However, thinking in terms of what is not possible instead of possibilities has never done any good for anyone, and can potentially cause a lot of stress, so let’s try to look at it from the other side.
I will assure you that you must be willing to take action; if you prefer to be fed up with self-pity and cry daily for hours on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and delivery snack bar food, that is of course fine, but then reading further makes little sense and I suggest that you alt-tabbed back.
STEP 1: STRESS, SLEEP AND RHYTHM
I guide a lot of customers in the field of nutrition and training, but since a few months also intensively on lifestyle and behavior (I also have places available, feel free to contact us!) And time and again I see a point where almost everyone can make a lot of progress.
That is why I have written so many boring articles on these topics and a large part of the weekly check-ins with my customers are related to this. Almost everyone sleeps too little, also has poor sleep quality and does too little to manage stress. Too little sleep and too much stress will cost muscle mass, enough good sleep and not too much stress less or can even lead to growth.
You’re not going to tell me that these weeks you don’t have enough time to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep a day. Start with that and see what it does. You may even drive yourself into a good day-night rhythm, which you will also benefit from in ‘the new world’ and these weeks / months will eventually lead to even more progression. That would be crazy!
KEEP YOUR RHYTHM
In addition, because work is lost for many people, they miss a large part of their rhythm and they may not or much less outside. Set your alarm at set times and go to bed at set times. Try to start your day with daylight, whether it is a walk outside or opening the window for a moment (first put your geraniums aside, otherwise you will sweep your windowsill into your living room).
Plan fixed blocks in your agenda / day for fixed customs / habits; because work is lost, a lot of structure is lost. Structure and rhythm are very important. If you want to know more about this or more tips, feel free to send me a message.
STEP 2: NUTRITION
Nutrition is also easy to control and manage, even in these times. Make sure you have the essential foods that should form the backbone of your diet. Many people claim to gain weight from stress, but if all goes well, following the points in step 1 will remove a lot of stress. In addition, no one now has no time to cook properly, so no more reason for ready-made pizzas that you heat up in the microwave because the oven takes too long.
Enough vegetables and fruit (the shelves are empty, but not that empty), enough carbohydrates (rice, pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, bread,… whatever you like) and healthy fats. By that I don’t mean bags of chips and ready-made whipped cream, but stock up on some nuts (preferably not in spreadable form). I give you permission to purchase salted nuts . Fatty fish (even from the freezer) is also a good addition.
Of course we also want to get enough protein. Anyone reading this knows where proteins are and what good sources are, whether you choose animal or vegetarian or vegan .
SAVE DRY WORKOUTS FOR LATER
Sufficient protein is important for maintaining muscle mass, but it is not the only one; there is one more thing: Calories. Calories protect against muscle breakdown. For that reason, I would be careful about losing weight at this point; if your fat percentage is quite high, you can ignore this advice and by applying the rules in this article you can lose fat and still maintain muscle mass.
If you are quite dry or even in prep (for a match that probably won’t take place right now; I sincerely feel sorry for you and sympathize with you, shouldn’t think that happened to me during my prep …) then my advice would be to temporarily stop lowering and aim for maintenance.
Finally: I’m the last person to tell you that detoxing is necessary, but if you still want to give it a try, use these weeks to take a closer look; eat healthy, eat less junk, let the alcohol stand, stop smoking , get enough sleep, etc. etc.
STEP 3: TRAINING
We may have the least influence on this step, or at least … we should probably drop our usual regimen. However, that does not mean that we cannot do anything at all anymore. Just like with steps 1 and 2, we can also provide an environment in which our body retains muscle mass, even during this period.
That requires some adaptability; getting fed up with having to deviate from your standard approach is understandable, but it will not bring you anything. In addition, I don’t want to crush your dreams, but no one is sure that everything will be okay after April 6. That is why my advice would be to invest in training material, so that you can also get started at home. If you have the space in terms of square meters and financially, you can get a lot done for a few hundred euros.
However, that is certainly not your only option; for most of my clients I have written out a training periodization to get through the coming weeks, with nothing more than a few resistance bands; if you still manage to get it somewhere, you can absolutely run training sessions; perhaps not with the resistances you are used to, but with some knowledge or guidance the whole body can be trained. In addition, as mentioned, see this period as a deload .
As a final consolation, it is also good to mention that the training volume required for progression is three times as high as the volume needed to maintain muscle mass.
Apart from advice directly on training, nutrition and the lifestyle that goes with it, I want to give my (un) requested advice and opinion a little further. You probably don’t have anything better to do right now anyway, any more than this is probably going to be my longest article because I don’t have anything better to do. So feel free to read on, it’s nice that we finally have some more time to spend together. (kind of).
STEP 4: PRIORITIES
Furthermore, these weeks would be a good time to think about how you fill your days; Unfortunately, I myself have had to deal with quite a few other taps in recent weeks except for Corona, but in times like this it is also noticeable that you are not alone.
Without violating the government’s advice and as long as you can, spend more time with your family or friends. Are you at home with your children now? Or with your partner? Good! Maybe you can teach them about the need for healthy eating and exercise. Go hiking or cycling together on a regular basis. Cook together. Play games together. (Video) call your grandfather and grandmother more often.
If this time has taught me anything so far it is that this sport can very quickly become very selfish. Choosing for yourself is not bad at all and sometimes even good and necessary, but if you are honest with yourself you really know when you could actually do more with or for your loved ones.
STEP 5: CARDIO
In addition: Cardio. Many people underestimate the positive effect of cardio on health, especially if it can be done outdoors. Go for a long walk through the forest or get a breath of fresh air on the beach. The 1.5 meter rule is easy to handle. Just because you can’t see your heart doesn’t mean that this muscle doesn’t need training and isn’t important. Perhaps these weeks can be a push in the right direction and I would certainly advise you to keep up the cardio when these dark times are over.
When the light is in sight at the end of the tunnel and we finally stumble out of the tunnel with squinted eyes and give each other a bluetooth hug or high-fire you will hear that the birds whistle and see that the sky is blue instead of gray and filled with smog and the ditches and rivers in Venice are clean and filled with fish. Swans swim in the ponds in Rome, dolphins dare to return to the coastline …
Perhaps, apart from the fact that these weeks are a good deload for us and a good time to think about how we fill our time and lives, these weeks are also a good time to think together about what for a huge mess we all make of it.