how to protect your muscle

How to protect your gains during lockdown

For sure this epidemic time will put some things in perspective and make us think what is really important in life. We would all like that this pandemic would never happened, but it has. It is here and now, you have soaps, disinfections and facial masks lying around the house so deal with it. The harsh reality is that it will take some time before our life’s can get back to “normal”. But at the same time this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to recharge, rethink and replan your life. So, it is really just a matter of how you look at it.

Our life’s have turned around for 180 degrees and while cyclist can still cycle, and runners can still run, the ones so called “meatheads” who likes picking up and putting down heavy things are deprived for their slice of satisfaction. But at the same time, it is not all hopeless as looked on the first sight and you don’t need to be in fear of losing all those hard-earned gains.

Let me give you couple of rules here, to help you during this lockdown to come from it not the same, but stronger and fitter.

Your gains are safe

Don’t stress yourself about your hard build muscles, strength and aerobic condition are quite tough and can stay on your max for up to four weeks, after then they start to decline. How fast depends on who you are and how good you are trained. Your body will then slowly revert to a state adapted to the workload that you are giving it to him.  To postpone that just try to keep your resistance workout as much as possible.   

Reinvented basics

It doesn’t smell the same and the energy is different like in the gym, but you can still get that sweat taste of pain, pump and satisfaction when you finish your workout.

Why complicating your life when everything can be so simple. You just need to cover all basic movements like squat, hinge, lunge, pull and push.      

  • Squats

This is not the hardest exercise especially performed without extra weight, but it is one of the best when it comes to your back and knees health. I have explained in dept all around squats and benefits in my post WHY YOU NEED TO SQUAT so here I am adding three variations (stages) which you can do at home.  

Beginner or with bad knees. Take a chair and sit on it, now stand up without help of your hands. This will strengthen muscles around your knees and relieve your joints. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Advanced. perform regular squats without chair, take some kind of weight (for instance washing detergent or six pack of bear) and hold it in front of you. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Pro level. Single legged squat referred also as pistol squat. Perform 3 sets of 6-8 reps on each leg.

  • Lunges

This movement puts your body in less stable position with feet further apart. It demands from you balance, flexibility and stability which then strengthens your core, hamstring, quadriceps and glutes.  The best three types of lunges are step ups, forward and reverse lunges and their heavier brother Bulgarian split squat. Choose one and perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each leg.

  • Hip hinge

Hip hinge or deadlift is one of the best full body exercises that you can do. It is simulating picking some object from the floor by pushing your butt back, leaning your torso forward and maintaining spine in neutral position. It engages your core, lower back, hamstring and glutes. Perform 4 sets of 8-12 reps.

  • Pull

Row is the trickiest exercise to perform at home but the best one for your back. The easiest option is with TRX if you have it, if not then put two chares 3 feet apart and broom on top of them, lay under and pull your self up, this is also so-called inverted row. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

  • Push

Yes, I am referring to an old fashion and exceptionally progressive push-ups. With push-ups you will hit your arms, back, shoulders, chest and core and they can be as easy or hard as you wish. You can place your hands on some elevated object like chair to relieve weigh from your hands or challenge them extra with elevated feet. They can be performed with wide grip for shoulder and chest emphasize, or with narrow grip for triceps.

Eat right  

With limited movement during this lockdown your activity level has probably dropped down, so you should be aware of this and rethink and recalculate your need for daily intake.

For maintaining your muscle mass, you should aim for at least 1g of protein per kg of your body weight that mean if your weight 90 kg, you should intake at least 90g of proteins per day. Proteins are differentiators between loosing and maintaining muscle. But don’t neglect the other micronutrition’s (good carbs and fat).  

Make it challenging

I know that it sucks not being able to go to the gym in seek of that sweet pump but stressing out for something you can’t change is not only pointless but can also harm your muscles. There is a lot of researches that prove negative influence between stress and muscles, not to mention on your general health. I am sure that you have your goals when it comes to your body training and need for progress to reach out that goals but like in any other unpredictable situation, adapt. With new program and exercises mentioned above, which you can do at home, create yourself new goals. This will motivate you, excite you and give you boost for training.  This can also be the time to focus on muscles that you have bin neglecting before (like rotator cuffs, erector spinea, tibialis anterior, obliques,…) when all those iron was around you.

And don’t worry, your old goals will still be there when everything settles down and you will be able to return to your gym, this time even stronger.

Bottom line

Do what you can with what you have. Try to incorporate physical activity as much as possible, this is important against your muscle loss, for your physical and mental health. Above suggested exercises can be done without equipment in studio apartment with two square meters of space. Taking an evening walk around your block or running up and down the stairs in your apartment building are also doable. Again, do what you can with what you have, because any activity is better than no activity.

It is up to you how will you look and feel when all this is over, and it will be over at one point. We are all in this together and we will get through this. Stay safe and healthy.

And remember, we will all come from this stronger and fit!

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