Whether due to injury or illness, a lazy vacation or a particularly inactive job sabotaging our workout efforts, the loss of muscle strength and composition is a real worry for many. In fact, it’s estimated that it takes just two weeks’ inactivity for muscles to weaken significantly. It doesn’t matter how much you exercised to begin with, these changes are likely noticeable to you and, for this reason, will cause great concern. The good news is that muscle loss and weakness are reversible. The even better news is that safely regaining muscle after such a period of inactivity could set you on a better path towards a healthier future.
Let’s get started
The first thing we need to be clear on is the fact that any replenishment of muscle needs to be done safely, and in a controlled manner. This is far better for the body, as well as being most sustainable. Owing to muscle memory, the muscle that is regained will occur far more quickly than any muscle gained in the first place – phew! It stands to reason, then, that you should approach the task of rebuilding, and maintaining those muscles far more carefully. You can find out more about specific workouts, nutrition, wellness and exercises for pursuing your new regime via BodyPass, here.
You should also focus on…
Resistance and Weight Training
Resistance, strength and weight training are usually heralded as the best ways to rebuild muscle. Focus on exercises with stretch bands, light cardio and smaller weights to begin with, gradually increasing your workload until you’re ready to face a new challenge. Think about the muscles you want to build, and focus your workout on those areas. Do you want to repair arm and chest muscles with lifting, or strengthen your legs with bands and squats? Resistance and weight training can also support bone mass.
Eating well and staying hydrated
Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts, to ensure you’re properly hydrated. You might also want to look at your diet, and ramp up your intake of protein. Foods like fish, turkey, chicken and vegetables will help your body to build and maintain muscle, while foods rich in calcium will support bone strength and growth. Foods rich in protein also help to restore energy, boost the metabolism and further the effects of a workout, contributing towards tissue repair and helping you to feel fuller for longer.
Movements that move your whole body
By all means target the areas of muscle that matter most to you. However, after periods of inactivity it’s important to get your whole body moving again. Multi-joint exercises, such as lifts, squats and lunge variations will provide the cardio workout you need to stay fit and healthy, supporting your muscles as their strength and mass improves.
Listening to your body
If your muscles have declined due to illness or injury it’s absolutely essential to listen to your body. What is it telling you? Make exercise a part of your daily routine, but learn when to ramp up or scale down your efforts. For example, you should allow 48 hours between workouts that target similar muscle groups. Rest ensures you have plenty of energy for each workout, as well making your training even more effective.
Remember: regained muscle grows back relatively rapidly, and you run the risk of even greater setbacks if you attempt to run before you can walk. Taking that first step towards regaining muscle after reduced, or halted physical activity is a bold one. However, you must make sure you approach the task at hand safely and in a way that bests complements your lifestyle.