shirtless man performing pull-ups

Everyone is interested in knowing how long it takes to build muscle, but what about the opposite? In other words, how quickly can we expect to lose our hard-earned progress if we stop training right now?

Whether you’re injured and can’t train, or you find yourself unable to make it to the gym, this article is for you.

Let’s discuss…

What Makes Us Lose Muscle Mass?
Unlike fat tissue, which we can only lose by being in a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than we burn), muscle loss occurs more easily.

Training hard, being active during the day, eating enough protein, and getting plenty of sleep are essential for muscle growth. But, not doing any of these can prevent your body from keeping the muscle you’ve built and instead break it down for energy.

For example, you might be training hard, but if you stop eating enough protein, your body won’t have the building blocks it needs to support your muscle. As a result, you will struggle to recover from training and begin losing muscle. Similarly, you might eat enough protein, but you will rob your muscles of the stimulus they need to grow if you stop training.

How Quickly Can We Expect to Lose Muscle?
The rate of muscle loss will be unique and dependent on your lifestyle and genetics.

For example, if you start training but keep eating enough protein and maintain an active lifestyle, you will probably start losing muscle after weeks out of the gym. In contrast, not training, not eating enough protein, and not sleeping will lead to muscle loss much more quickly. Couple that with a calorie deficit, and the rate of muscle loss will increase even more.

According to research, our muscles are resistant to breakdown weeks of no training. But, other factors will also play a role in when you can expect to start losing your hard-earned muscle tissue.

How to Maintain Your Muscle Better, Even If You Can’t Train For a While

  1. Maintain a High Protein Intake
    Consuming enough protein will provide your body with plenty of amino acids to support protein turnover rates. In turn, this should help you maintain more muscle mass even if you can’t train for a while. According to research, you should eat around 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.
  1. Avoid Dieting
    Being in a calorie deficit is necessary from time to time, but you should avoid that if you can’t train. Dieting increases the risk of muscle loss, and training is essential for maintaining it while losing fat.
  1. Be Active During The Day
    Aside from exercising, another good way to maintain muscle is to be as active as possible during the day. Play sports, go hiking, practice a hobby, pick up gardening, walk, and be active with your kids.
  1. Get At Least Seven Hours of Sleep Per Night
    Research suggests that sleep deprivation plays a significant role in muscle loss. Avoid any potential effects by getting at least seven hours of sleep per night.
February 25, 2022 — Daniel Felstein

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