You want to keep your muscle mass, but sometimes life gets in the way of your training schedule. There may be times when you miss an entire week of training, and you fear that you will lose your hard-earned muscle mass.
But just how much time does it take to lose gains? Don’t worry, PVL has the answer, as well as what causes muscle loss and a quick at-home workout you can do to stay active and keep your muscle mass.
How Long Does It Take to Lose Muscle Gains?
The truth is, it varies. Many factors go into maintaining, gaining, or losing muscle, including age, gender, time off from training, nutrition, sleep, and stress.
While it’s ideal to be young, athletic, eat properly, get 8-10 hours of sleep a night, and have a stress-free job and home life, that’s probably not the case 24/7. Life happens. Thankfully, losing muscle mass takes a decent amount of time when life throws you a curveball.
Strength is the first thing to go, and it takes two to three weeks of zero training to see a depletion in strength. This doesn’t necessarily mean muscle size goes away, only strength. Muscle mass will soon follow, but it takes about a month of no activity to see muscle gains disappear. This 2020 study found that 3-weeks of detraining didn’t lead to any noticeable muscle strength or loss in athletes. (1)
Therefore, a few days of not working out isn’t killing your strength and muscle gains. In fact, it might even help with recovery. But what about when you don’t see the inside of a gym for two months due to travel, family, or work? Well, that’s where we have you covered…
The PVL At-Home Workout to Preserve Muscle Gains
Do you have 20 minutes of free time on any given day? Even the hardest of times can still have a pocket of time where you can hit a quick workout, despite zero motivation. And what’s more, this simple, quick at-home workout can help you maintain your muscle even if you can’t make it to the dumbbells or squat racks.
- Push-ups: 2 sets x 20-30 reps
- Jump Squats: 2 sets x 10-15 reps
- Towel/Table Rows: 2 sets x 20-30 reps
- Glute-Hamstring Bridges (w/ 2-second hold at the top): 2 sets x 15-20 reps
- Planks: 1 set x failure
With short rest periods between these sets, you can improve your muscular strength and muscle endurance with just your body weight in under 20 minutes.
It may not seem much or be quite the intensity you’re used to from weights. But still incorporating training — even using just your body weight as resistance — is needed to maintain muscle when you’re gone from the gym for prolonged periods. So whether you’re on a weeklong vacation, dealing with an injury, or a busy parent, you can always do this workout to maintain muscle size.
Other Tips for Maintaining Muscle
Besides training, here are some other tips to keep your layer of muscle.
By prioritizing self-care and setting aside short bursts for workouts while navigating life's challenges, you can preserve the valuable muscle gains you've worked hard to build. And what a relief that is!
Article by Terry Ramos
Gavanda, S., Geisler, S., Quitmann, O. J., Bauhaus, H., & Schiffer, T. (2020). Three Weeks of Detraining Does Not Decrease Muscle Thickness, Strength or Sport Performance in Adolescent Athletes. International journal of exercise science, 13(6), 633–644.