How Detraining Affects Your Strength and Muscle Mass

March 25, 2020

With the COVID19 pandemic hitting the country and forcing us inside, it’s easy to get frustrated and come up with a number of excuses as to why our training should take a backseat. Although training at home may not be the most ideal solution, something is always better than nothing. If you think your “gains” you’ve been working so hard to develop over the last few months/years has been for nothing, I’ve got some good news for you…

Previous studies have shown that it takes roughly three weeks of no resistance training to significantly lose muscle, while it takes roughly 28 days of no resistance training to see a serious drop in absolute strength levels (>10% decrease). The following graph below shows percentage change in maximal force levels for both males and females after a two-week detraining period. Females and highly trained strength male athletes saw a small percentage dip over the two-week period while physically active males actually got stronger! 

Considering they did literally no training at all for two weeks and saw only small changes to their force output, consistently sticking to your “at home” workouts should theoretically reduce the percentage drop even further. Training at home may not allow you to truly train to your fullest potential, but it definitely is doing more to maintain whatever gains and strength levels you’ve developed so far than you think. 

We are all in this together. The current situation is far from ideal for everyone and the most important thing right now is to come together as humans and tackle this pandemic head on and together. Everyone’s safety, health, and well being are the most important things to consider at the moment, but taking some time out your day for some physical activity/movement is not only a great “mental break” but will also make sure you are still adequately prepared to hit the ground running when normal life resumes.  Here’s a few things we can all do stay healthy in the meantime:

  1. Move! 

It doesn’t have to be the hardest or longest workout in the world, any movement during the day will not only give you a mental break from your work at home routine, but also re-energized and re-focused to attack whatever you’ve got left on your to-do list for the day.

  1. Consistency

This may be difficult to do at times, but any sort of consistency/normalcy you can maintain during this “social distancing” period will go a long ways in keeping you healthy and sane. Set aside 30-45 minutes a day/every other day and move! Remember, anything is better than nothing so use whatever you have at your disposal and don’t let this pandemic be your excuse as to why you haven’t been training!

  1. High Protein Diet

Try and make sure you are getting adequate protein amounts during each meal. This will not only keep you feeling full throughout the day (and keep you from reaching for those snacks out of “boredom”) and help maintain the lean muscle we’ve spent all year building and developing. Improve your grocery list with this post from our Nutritionist, Jamie.

  1. Relax

This may be easier said than done, but try and keep calm and remember that our current situation will not last forever. We are all in this together and we’ll get through this together. Call your family or loved ones, set aside some time for yoga/meditation, open that bottle of whiskey, or put on your favorite tv show and relax. Let’s all hold each other accountable, keep being positive, and we’ll come out stronger in the end.


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