Muscle loss. How does it happen? The reason the topic is on my mind is because I got sick, didn’t feel well. I actually took more than a full week off of training so like eight or nine days without resistance training, and I started thinking, “Did I lose muscle?” I started researching, and I found out I did not lose muscle. What we’re going to talk about today is muscle loss, what we can expect, how fast it happens, but the group I want to talk about is the group that’s reading this blog, is most likely people that are intermediate to advanced trainees.
Meaning, you’ve been training for more than a year consistently, nonstop, training in the gym on a training program, right? Your body has allowed itself to adapt to that training stimulus. If you’ve been training for three weeks and you take a week off, don’t expect what I’m saying to be true. What I’m going to talk about is for those of us, and I’ve been training in the gym for 7 years straight. Yes, I want to talk about muscle loss because it’s been on my mind with not training, and I get the question quite a bit. When we go through flu season, people don’t train. When we go on vacations, people don’t want to train. When we’re experiencing life, I think it’s a good piece of knowledge to have to know just how quickly we lose muscle, so that we’re not emotionally beating ourselves up and being worried about it, right?
When it comes to muscle loss, we don’t lose any muscle for three weeks. Three weeks. 21 days of not training at all, and you lose no muscle, all right? Why, after one week of not training, did I feel like a bag of bones, did I feel like when I picked up the dumbbells, they weighed a ton? Another good question, and here is the answer. Muscle is only part of the equation. The other part of the equation is the neural adaptation, the movement patterns. Those things, that detraining, can happen a little bit quicker, but we haven’t lost muscle mass. Muscle mass is very resilient. It’s going to stick around, okay? Those movement patterns, those things that we ingrained when we trained, those things can dissipate a little bit quicker. Even though you might feel a little bit like Bambi after two weeks of not training, the muscle mass is still there
Stefan, I know what you’re going to say next. I noticed when I didn’t train for a week, my muscle size had decreased. I’ve got an answer for that, too. Yes, in fact, muscle size might be decreased, but muscle mass is still there. How is that possible? When you don’t train a muscle, you’re not storing as much glycogen, and if you’re not storing glycogen, as we all know, which is stored with water in the muscle, it’s going to have less total mass.
Technically, you have less lean body mass, but you do not have less muscle. It’s just not hydrated, basically. You’re just not resistance training. You’re just not beating it up. It’s not sore. It’s not inflamed. It’s actually probably healing and feeling better than it has in a long time. I’ll tell you this. Taking that eight, nine days off of training and going back to the gym, after about the second or third day, I felt rejuvenated. I feel refreshed, like all my joints, no more aching. My back, better, shoulder, better. All the things that I had just been constantly beating up over the last couple months and not really allowing them to recover, with intention because I’m trying to put on muscle, they all felt better. That eight or nine days did me some wonder, so the purpose of this blog is to just inform you that if you need to take a long weekend, three days, four days, five days, and not train, you are not going to lose any muscle, okay?
Understand me. You’re not losing any muscle. There may be some physiological changes that you notice. There may be some strength changes that you notice when you come back, but it’s not due to loss of muscle. What we’re seeing here are neurological adaptations, hydration to the muscle, things like this, but I actually started looking things up, I just found article, after article, after study, after study that said the same exact thing. You don’t really notice a change in loss of muscle until the fourth week, fourth week of not resistance training. I’m not talking about endurance. I’m not talking about sprint capacity. I’m only talking about lean body muscle. There are some other things that occur if you stop training. You do become detrained, as they say, all right?
Power lifters, you don’t want to stop squatting 10 days before your power lifting meet, because while you might not lose muscle, the neurological adaptations that you get, that skill that you get, putting that bar on your back and squatting and standing up, those things can become detrained a little bit quicker than muscle loss happens. Again guys, it’s a long journey, it’s a long time. I’ve been training 7 years, and I know you guys probably feel the same way I do on a day-to-day basis. We can kind of really get worried that we’re losing muscle, or that things are changing too fast, or I missed the gym session this week. It’s all over. I’m losing my gains. Trust that that’s not true. I even had to remind myself of that, and getting back to the gym after being off for those eight or nine days, I was just reminded. I thought I’d share that with you because it’s on my mind, and I get so many questions from clients about, oh, I got sick. What should I do?
Get well, let your body recover. You’re not losing muscle. We’re going to keep right on trucking.
Ready To Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life?
I’m offering free 45minute strategy sessions with me personally via Skype or the phone to discuss your current situation, desired situation and map out a plan to take you there.
You can schedule a breakthrough strategy call with me using the link below:
YES! Schedule My Breakthrough Strategy Session Now.
To your success!