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Preventing muscle loss when the gym is closed

| November 24, 2020, 04:53 PM

Photo by Karl Solano from Pexels

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we are all faced with a number of restrictions that may be keeping us from our best health. Some gyms have closed and others have restricted capacities. And often, people are not comfortable returning just yet. It can be difficult to imagine keeping up or improving our levels of fitness in our homes.

Obstacles to overcome

With our gym memberships in furlough, many of us facing colder weather conditions, and demands on our time and perhaps resources, we have plenty of obstacles to overcome in order to maintain fitness levels and prevent muscle loss. Some of us may not have equipment at home; others may turn to stress eating and drinking to try to manage difficult emotions. Some of us may just not have the space to turn an extra bedroom into a makeshift fitness center for the time being. Rest assured, if there is a will, there is a way. Dig deep, find the strength that is within to uncover your best self, and use this information as a guide to help navigate these tricky times. Let’s get you started on the road to your best health, despite external circumstances that threaten our fitness.

Liquified Creative Annapolis

Watch the diet

Quarantine is not an excuse to eat whatever you wish; at some point, we’ll need the strength and stamina necessary to perform real world work. Watching your diet and providing the proper fuel for bones, tissues, and muscles will be an essential part of your muscle building process. Focus on these foods for best health:

  • Fresh produce–fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, legumes
  • Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs
  • Whole grains and whole grain products
  • Healthy fats, nuts, and seeds

Consider some basic equipment

It’s just as important to envision a varied routine at home as it is in the gym; for that, you’ll need some basic equipment. Weight-bearing exercises are also good for keeping muscle tone, but if you want to build, sculpt and tone, consider picking up some of these items as needed:

1. Weighted armbands–these 1.5-2 pound wonders will add an extra level of resistance to yoga, pilates, and cardio workouts. You might not get big and bulky if that is what you wish, but you’ll experience some extra calorie burn and you’ll be able to keep and tone what muscle you do have.

2. Resistance bands–buying a set of dumbbells or a weight machine may not be in the budget, but resistance bands are a great way to build and tone muscle as well, and they cost less. Resistance bands are also sold in packages; you can pick up varying degrees of density and strength to fuel and vary your workouts.

3. Weighted jump rope–did you know that just ten minutes of using a weighted jump rope is more effective than 30-45 minutes of cardio/aerobic exercise? With statistics like these, purchasing a weighted jump rope for your workout routine is a no-brainer.

4. Medicine ball–a medicine ball is good for toning both upper and lower body, as well as targeting those abs for a more effective mid-section session.

5. Foam block–Part of muscle toning is stretching and lengthening as well. A balanced approach to building and toning muscle includes stretching, and a foam block will help assist with harder positions and postures.

What exercises should I focus on?

Now that you’ve build yourself a little home gym with moderately priced (yet very effective) equipment, you’ll want to focus on exercises that keep your cardiovascular system in shape while toning and shaping your body. Incorporate these exercises into your weekly routine:

Exercises that incorporate pushing

A pushing exercise contracts your muscles while you are pushing either your own body weight or something heavy away from you. Primary muscles targeted during pushing exercises include the chest, triceps, biceps, quads, calves, and shoulders. Consider adding these to your weight bearing exercises for more tone and definition overall:

  • push ups
  • squats
  • lunges
  • shoulder press

Pulling exercises

The counterbalancing act for a pushing exercise is a pulling exercise. A pulling exercise involves pulling weight toward the body and contracting the muscle group that you are working on. Some examples of pulling exercises include:

  • Upright dumbell row (can also use with resistance bands)
  • Bent over row
  • Pull ups
  • Inverted row
  • Lat pull down

If you are new to weight bearing exercises, start slow, and work consistently toward heavier weights. In time, you’ll be stronger and more toned than you’ve ever been.

Squats and lunges

There is no more effective way to maintain and work the muscles of your lower body than through squats and lunges. Lunges and squats increase muscle mass, as well as help to work your core muscles and those muscles required for stability. Squats can also help with balance and posture. Simple forward/backward lunges, side to side lunges, and squats performed with feet shoulder width apart will put you on the road to greater strength and greater muscle tone in no time.

What else can I do to prevent muscle loss?

The way you train has a lot to do with muscle development, but so do other factors. Consider making some of these changes as you work to create your best body, despite COVID factors that may be limiting us:

Check your hormone levels

An imbalance in hormone levels can contribute to muscle loss, if not properly addressed. As we age, we experience a natural decline in HGH, or Human Growth Hormone. This growth hormone is responsible for cellular repair and renewal, metabolic function, and a host of other processes that keep us looking young and vibrant – as long as levels are within normal range. While it may be tempting to begin taking over the counter supplements that claim to boost HGH levels, the real results lie in HGH therapy and the advice of a medical professional, who can administer a blood test to determine what your current levels are. If it is determined that you have a hormone deficiency, a plan will be implemented to balance levels once more and give you every advantage when it comes to preserving and protecting the health of your body.

You get to design your health and your future

No excuses–you can begin to design a fitness and nutrition plan today that will move you toward your fitness goals immediately. Remember that it is a process, that steady progress will yield you big results, and that you deserve to have optimal health and fitness. Now get off the couch and start creating your best body and your best life!

Severn Bank

Category: LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, NEWS, Sports

About the Author - Stephanie Maris

Stefanie is a local blogger and social media content marketer from Maryland and most recently a wife and a mother. She has an unhealthy obsession with puns, sarcasm and caffeinated beverages.

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