So you’ve achieved the best physique of your life and you are having the physique of your life. But now you are caught up in an unavoidable circumstance that is limiting you from the gym.
There can be multiple reasons, some of them could be-
- Scenario 1: You are on a long vacation.
- Scenario 2: Harsh weather conditions are stopping you to visit the gym.
- Scenario 3: Caught up in a big project at work, which is making it impossible to spare time for the gym.
Muscles are hard-earned and no one wants to lose them because of any reason.
I personally hate to lose my muscle mass because of any reason, they are not just hard to earn but also degenerates the confidence level.
Maintaining muscle mass without a gym can be a hard task for many but having a close watch over a few muscle-building factors can help you retain your muscle mass.
Now the question is, how to maintain muscle mass without the availability of professional gym equipment? Before we discuss the practical tips to save muscle mass its important to understand the changes your body goes through when you stop going to the gym.
Why does the body lose muscle?
The human body does not understand bodybuilding. Muscle development happens because of the body’s adaptation to higher resistance.
The human body is both smart and lazy. When you don’t provide sufficient resistance training your body, it starts to cut down unnecessary muscle mass. But why the body cut down muscle mass? because muscles require energy to maintain themselves.
The body does not understand your needs to look good, once the body realizes the muscle isn’t being used it starts to shred down that extra muscle fibers.
Whether you are a victim of harsh weather, busy schedule or long holiday your muscles are destined to shrink if you don’t provide adequate resistance to them.
Let’s get straight to the point and get to know practical tips on maintaining muscle mass without a gym.
15 Tips to maintain muscle without a gym.
There are three main components of muscle building:
- Resistance training
- Stress management
Directly or indirectly all our tips are going to support these three main components to maintain muscle mass while discontinuing the gym.
Some of the tips might sound basic but all the tips have proven their effectiveness in maintaining muscle mass.
1# Watch out macronutrients
Yes, you have left the gym, so what? Tracking your macronutrients is still essential if you really want to preserve muscle while maintaining good body composition.
Your body’s energy consumption is higher when you undergo an intense training session on a regular basis but as you stop going to gym your body’s caloric requirements go down as well.
Keeping an eye on your caloric needs and maintaining the right ratio of macros is the first step to maintain body composition.
So if you were consuming 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight then you can bring your protein intake down to 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Same with the carbohydrates and fat consumption, when you discontinue the gym it gets more important to watch your macronutrients to maintain right body composition.
2# Develop a hobby to stay active
As we discussed earlier, your body gets rid of the muscle fibers when they are not in use.
So the best way to preserve the muscle mass is to frequently challenge them with some resistance.
We understand that you are unable to hit the gym because of numerous reason but you can always find a hobby to keep yourself active.
Here, I am not talking about hobbies like play station games or chess, Choose a hobby that requires an extensive amount of energy. I personally love beach volleyball, tennis, kayaking, surfing, etc.
To supplement some extra resistance I usually complete some bodyweight drills after daily sports.
Sleep plays a very important role in muscle recovery and development. According to the CDC, 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep (7 hours per day).
The body produces growth hormones while sleeping and lack of sleep might be badly affecting the production of growth hormones.
Sleep deprivation may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake. Lack of sleep may trigger the stress hormones that lead to the production of cortisol levels and the decline of testosterone levels.
A study (11) conducted on the effects on sleep deprivation on testosterone levels. Researchers found, after a week of 5 hours of daily sleep, volunteers were found to have a drop in testosterone levels by 10-15%.
4# Stress management
Stress and bodybuilding never go side by side. Stress sabotage your muscle development and fat loss goals.
Any type of stress, whether its psychological stress, physical stress or mental stress, all will trigger the production of cortisol hormones.
The daily workout works as a stress reliever too and if you are discontinuing gym then its time to choose at least one activity that can help you lower down stress levels.
Here is how stress mess up your body composition-
- No matter how good your diet pattern is, you will gain fat if you are too stressed. Stress slows down the body’s metabolic rate which results in the accumulation of fat at a faster pace.
- Stress triggers the hunger hormone that leads to craving “junk food items”. Binging on junk food is the fastest route to sabotage your gains.
- Stress slows down the recovery time which ultimately leads to making it hard to gain new muscles. High cortisol levels may trigger the breakdown of protein into amino acids and sugar, to be directly used for energy. So basically, body starts to break down muscles for the energy rather than extracting energy from the stored source.
5# Red light therapy
For those who have never heard about the red light therapy. Red light therapy includes medical-grade LEDs to deliver concentrated wavelengths of natural light to your skin and cells, without dangerous UV rays or excess heat.
All you have to do is sit or stand near a device for 10-15 minutes a day to get the benefits. but how does it work? I personally love red light therapy because of its positive effects on my testosterone levels.
As we know, Testosterone is a critical male hormone that helps in preserving muscle mass and improving metabolic rate. There are numerous studies (11, 12, 13, 14) available that have proven the positive effects of red light therapy on testosterone, fertility and energy levels.
6# Bodyweight workouts
If you are not in powerlifting. Bodyweight workouts are enough to maintain good body composition and healthy levels of strength.
Underestimating bodyweight workouts is the dumbest thing people do.
Some of the best bodyweight workouts that can be followed anywhere:
|Push-ups variations||Chest, shoulders, core, triceps|
|Pull-ups variations||Lats, traps, core, arms|
|Squats||Quadriceps, glutes, and core|
|Planks||Primarily target core|
|Lunges||Quadriceps and glutes|
|Burpees||Fat burster that targets full body.|
Now sure how to implement bodyweight workouts to maintain muscle mass? Here is the list of top bodyweight circuit workouts.
It’s one of the best ways to stay strong while vacationing. This workout won’t take more than 10 minutes. It’s called a Pyramid workout because of the number of repetitions changes with every set. Here is how to do it.
Round 1- 10 pull-up and 1 squat
Round 2- 9 pull-up and 2 squat
Round 3- 8 pull-up and 3 squat
Round 10- 1 pullup and 10 squat
You can choose the exercises according to your needs. You can choose the combine push-ups and burpees or any other combination.
It’s a real full-body strength builder. It’s a combination fo 3 most common compound movements.
- 5 pullups
- 10 pushups
- 15 Squats
Get the minimum rest between sets.
It’s basically a CrossFit WOD and will leave you in sweat. It’s my top choice to compensate for a cheat meal.
- 100 Pull-ups
- 100 Push-ups
- 100 Sit-ups
- 100 Air Squats
7# Resistance band workouts
Not being able to continue gym membership is acceptable but there are other ways that can help you in training.
Resistance bands are dirt cheap and you can grab a good set of resistance bands in just $20-$50. Additionally, these bands are highly portable that can be carried together while traveling or at-home workouts.
What I personally love about resistance is their ability to isolate muscle groups. It works best for me to achieve a nice muscle pump and definition after a good bodyweight training session.
We actually covered a whole article on the comparison of different types of resistance bands. Check out: Resistance Band Vs Tube Vs Mini Loop
8# TRX suspension training
TRX training is a great way to provide resistance through basic functional movements.
I personally love TRX suspension training because of its core-centric workout routine that not just helps in full-body development but also assisted in craving well-defined core.
We did a whole comparison between the TRX and resistance bands workouts, both have their own pros and cons.
Read more: TRX VS resistance band training.
Learn the basics of TRX training from the creator itself.
Some of my personal favorite TRX drills.
9# Animal Flow workout
This bodyweight workout can change the way you look at personal fitness. Probably you have seen the Instagramers and Youtubers, doing a flow of different yoga poses, that’s animal flow.
Animal Flow is a ground-based movement program that’s designed to improve the function and communication of the ‘Human Animal.’ – Mike Fitch
Its a bodyweight workout program that is developed with an aim to improve, mobility, stability, strength, and power. More importantly, Animal flow workout helps in improving the body’s coordination and control.
The best part is, you don’t really need to pay a hefty price, its creators provide an online learning program that is cheap and effective.
Alcohol messes up your muscle health in many different ways.
While you are away from the gym, excess of alcohol consumption will surely have negative effects on your muscle mass. Let’s see the effects of alcohol on body composition.
- Alcohol disrupts the muscle protein synthesis which is directly related to the recovery and growth of the skeletal muscle system. A 2014 study (15) proved excess alcohol consumption impaired an individual’s ability to fast recovery.
- Alcohol leaves your body dehydrates which may cause fatigue and low energy levels. Dehydration also leads to shrinkage of muscle fibers and their vulnerability to injuries.
- Alcohol has been known to decrease testosterone levels and increases cortisol levels which is not very good news for muscle health.
- Alcohol also restricts the production of growth hormones thus results in accelerated loss of muscle mass.
11# Fix your diet
Muscles are made in the kitchen. I don’t really understand why most people lose their motivation as soon as they stop going to the gym.
The problem is, most people follow strict diet routines until they are hitting some serious training sessions at the gym.
Guys, you need to understand this, you just stopped going to the gym and now following the right diet is the only choice left to maintain healthy body composition.
Most of the people get back to that same unhealthy routine which includes unhealthy junk food, beers, etc.
Do you stop taking supplementation as soon as you discontinue the gym? Most of the folks do this mistake.
Its the biggest blunder you do to yourself.
You just left the gym and now just restricted all the essential supplies as well.
I agree there are few supplements that should be taken while workout sessions like pre-workouts, fat burners, creatine, etc, but there are few supplements that your body requires for general maintenance.
Supplementing with some bone broth, whey protein, multivitamins, and fish oil is still required by the body.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that reside in our gut. These tiny bacteria have a big impact on our lives and affect our performance in many different ways.
Probiotics help in improving digestion and athletic performance.
Supplementing with probiotics helps in the body’s ability to absorb nutreients which has a healthy impact on muscle quality.
The Taiwanese scientists conducted research on the effects of probiotics. Researchers found some promising effects on the body composition, 6 weeks of supplementing with probiotics reported significant gains in muscle and equally significant loss in body weight.
Additionally, probiotics are also proven (2) to be effective in strengthening the immune system against viral infections.