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How to keep muscle during a layoff

Posted by: Shawn

Obviously it is going to depend on how long your layoff is for. If you stop training for a week or two no muscle will be lost. You might have lost some size because the lost muscle inflammation in your muscles, a lower intramuscular glycogen content and a reduction in the myogenic tone of muscles generally. When you stop training for a week or two the muscles will feel "looser" or less swollen.

But if you are taking a layoff from pumping iron for more than three weeks because of a vacation, unplanned illness or injury you need a strategy to prevent muscle loss. If you have been training with weights for more than a year then you will know that you need to cycle your workouts.

Training hard and to the max every time you train will only result in overtraining and injury. You need to de-load for cycles if you want to gain muscle consistently. De-loading is common for competitive bodybuilders before entering a competition.

The sports scientists tell us that imposing maximum stress for 2 or 3 weeks should always be followed by 4 to 10 days of de-loading, active rest or reduced training intensity, or taper. It is during this tapering off period that you get the best results because your testosterone production starts to peak as high stress training reducers T production. Plus your CNS (central nervous system) goes back to functioning optimally only after 3 or 4 days and your cortisol levels drop.

If you layoff from weight training for more than three weeks you will lose muscle depending on how long you have been training to get the muscle you have. The longer you have been training with weights on a regular basis the longer you will keep the muscle mass when you stop training.

If you train with heavy weights for only 1 to 3 reps your strength and muscle loss will be significant after a few months break. However if you train with volume using 12 to 15 reps, your muscle memory and strength recovery will be 3 or 4 times faster.

So let's assume that you layoff any weight training for 3 months. If you have been training for more than a year, you will lose about 6 to 10 pounds of muscle. The good news is that muscle memory is usually very good and you should get the lost strength and muscle size back in less than 3 months.

Preventing muscle loss during a layoff is to stay as active as possible. Even training with light weights like doing push-ups and pull-ups when on vacation will severely limit muscle loss during a long extended break of three months. Make sure that you stick to your muscle diet and get enough sleep, even if it is a long vacation you still need to protect your gains.

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