Let’s tap into the conventional topic that some of our readers might not like. While men take pride in having muscle mass and size, women see it from a very different perspective.
I have been getting frequent emails about tips to reduce muscle mass and most of the emails came from female readers. Some of the queries are also coming from endurance athletes who are looking to lose some muscle mass for their respective endurance sports.
It’s obvious, anyone who is looking to lose muscle is frustrated with the extra size and weight they have gained over a period of time.
Whatever might be your personal reason to drop muscle mass, we are going to cover everything that will help you drop inches and get lean fast.
Should I purposely lose muscle?
As a bodybuilding coach, I never recomend anyone to lose muscle mass. Muscles help you stay strong and healthy, they aid in burning fat by keeping the metabolic rate high.
Unlike stored fat (which is a dead weight), muscles are actually a powerhouse that improves your body’s ability to generate more force, muscles also help in protecting your joints and bones from injuries.
I hardly encounter guys who are looking to trim down muscle mass, unless they are pro players who want to stay within a particular weight category. Sometimes it’s essential to lose body weight and muscle mass when trying to compete in events that require extreme endurance (Triathlon).
I have met women who have trained for professional sports (rugby, swimming, wrestling, etc) but now looking to lose the extra bulkiness.
No matter, what your reason is to shred some muscle mass and lean up, this article will guide you to do it with a scientific approach.
Caution: You will lose some strength and endurance while in the process to lose muscle.
5 Tips To Lose Muscle Mass
The science behind Muscle loss or muscle gain is not a “One solution fits all”, it’s a complicated science that can be applied differently with every individual.
Every individual might require different blueprints to lose muscle mass depending on their BMR, weight, fat percentage, strength, etc. You have to be careful to get the right balance of calories and macros says the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
As a general rule, switching to a low-calorie diet, reducing the protein intake, increasing low-intensity cardio, and decrease in strength training can help you lose muscle mass.
Let’s discuss some basic thumb rules to lose muscle mass.
1- Switch to a low-calorie diet
Your body reflects what you feed it. Your primary focus needs to shift to the food you are consuming.
Transitioning into a calorie-restricted diet will not only help in reducing muscle mass, but it will also help in trimming down excess fat that will make you look less bulky.
To gain muscle, we train hard and consume calories surplus diet for efficient repair and recovery. To lose the muscle you need to do the exact opposite.
Decreasing your carb intake, while increasing your cardio sessions, will help you lose muscle mass.
2- Go low in protein
Protein is a building block of muscle fibers, right?
Cut down your protein intake and you will get to see the reduction in muscle size.
Include high fiber and low-calorie food items in your daily meals to stay in a calorie deficit and encourage muscle loss.
If you are not aware of your maintenance calorie then you should seek expert advice who can help you understand your daily caloric requirement and how to trim extra mass from your body.
3- Cardio, cardio and cardio
As we mentioned above, a combination of long cardio sessions and a low carbohydrate diet will lead to muscle loss.
You can choose jogging, walking, skipping, hiking, etc to burn maximum calories.
Did you notice long-distance marathon runners? They lose a lot of muscle mass because of continuous calorie burning. A study conducted on middle-aged long-distance runners has proven the effectiveness of losing muscle mass while running. After a 31-mile run, runners lost 2 pounds of muscle mass during the race.
You don’t necessarily need to choose the long-distance ultra marathons for muscle loss, daily 45-60 minutes of any sort of cardiovascular activity will surely help.
4- Eliminate strength training
Challenge your muscles with added resistance and you will see them grow. Take off the resistance and your muscle will lose size and strength.
How do you gain muscle size? Its a result of continuous resistance training and the right nutrition. We have already talked about nutrition.
Muscle size and strength depend on the work they are forced to complete, that is the reason a construction worker is stronger than a software engineer.
A similar problem was encountered while space traveling when astronauts lost strength because of the zero-gravity space environment. Astronauts who completed the Apollo and Gemini space flight experienced great difficulty walking on earth after spending weeks in a weightless environment. However, running on a space treadmill can attenuate these losses.
In short: if you want to lose muscle mass, don’t provide them any kind of resistance to them.
5- Complete bed rest:
This can be an absurd solution to lose muscle mass but it certainly works. One week of bed rest reduces muscle strength by over 30 percent. That’s one of the reasons you lose muscle size after a few days of illness.
Do you want to reduce the size of a particular muscle group? We have got it covered for you as well.
How to lose muscle on arms?
My arms are too big, I want to cut down arm size – said by no men ever!
Women are commonly frustrated with the arm gains and I understand your pain. Arm size is definitly a most problematic area for most women.
Here is how to lose muscle on arms:
- Stay in the caloric deficit to reduce the overall size.
- Rely on the compound movements for upper body strength while keeping tones arms.
- Eliminate any exercise that isolates your bicep or tricep.
- Cardio workouts that target your arms can help, such as: weighted skipping, boxing, etc.
How to lose muscle from shoulders?
Broad shoulders are found to be a big matter of concern for female swimmers who develop strong shoulders and broad backs.
However, due to multiple reasons, many swimmers want to slim down their upper bodies. Switching from weight training to cardio training can help in cutting down some muscle mass from the shoulders and back.
Cutting down calories and relying on a low protein diet is still the important factor to lose muscle from the shoulders.
How to lose muscle on legs?
People who want to lose their leg size should follow the following step.
- Involve more in slow and steady cardio (slow jogging, long distance cycling).
- No-more heavy squatting, instead switch your legs day with body slimming exercises.
- Opt for swimming and jogging to maintain the tone.
- Zumba and aerobics is a great way to get rid of bulkiness.
Three reasons that might be making you look big
You genuinely got good muscle mass because of good genetics and professional training.
You have an extra layer of fat over your muscles that is making you look big. Staying consistent with the diet and staying within a calorie deficit can help you burn down an extra layer of fat without losing muscle tone and strength.
Eddie Hall is an English former professional strongman, notable for winning the World’s Strongest Man 2017 competition and for being the world record deadlift holder, lifting 500 kg under strongman rules, which he achieved in 2016.
As you can see in the picture, Eddie hall looks big because of the combination of fat and huge muscles. Maybe, losing some pounds of fat can make you feel good about your muscle size.
You are bloated which makes you look big and swelled.
If you are still struggling to achieve the desired goal then you should be seeking one-to-one discussion with a certified nutritionist or professional sports trainer who can diagnose the problem and provide you with the right plan to achieve your individual needs.
Thanks for reading. Questions are welcomed in the comments as always.