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How to preserve muscle mass during a period of inactivity such as a holiday

By Nick Cameron - LA Muscle's in-house personal trainer

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There will probably come a time when most of us, for some reason, won’t be able to train. Whether it be increased work demands, exam’s at University or a chilled out holiday, we live in a world full of training restrictions and pressures that limit the time we can dedicate to maintaining or improving our physiques.

But that’s not what we want to hear is it! We spend so much time, effort, blood and sweat in the gym, we don’t want a break of a few weeks to set us back; even if its losing a few lbs of lean muscle, or the sculpted glutes that you worked so hard for - anyone who has worked their butt off will appreciate that regression isn’t an option.

Sure, our old friend muscle memory will appear soon enough and hey, a break from training will probably do our joints and ligaments good. But at the same time, many gym goers will strive for progression or at least maintaining their hard work in any way possible in the absence of a gym. And that’s the point of this article; for people who have to take that break from training, but want to keep as much lean mass, fuller and
aesthetic muscles as possible without any trips to the gym - and crucially, to maintain the effectiveness and performance of these muscle groups.

Before I mention a few key tips, I think we can all appreciate that without training, we cannot expect to stay at exactly the same physical
state as we would be with training. Depending on the training lay off duration, some muscle atrophy is likely to occur and muscles will
inevitably lose some of their performance effectivness. The good news is that unless you are performing complex, intricate moves (e.g. Olympic lifts) you shouldn’t expect any neuro-muscular regression i.e. you won’t have to spend much time getting back into the ‘groove’ of the movement once you start training again. So really, my tips could be implemented as a damage limitation tool, things to avoid, and also things which will help maintain your physique, without training.

Battle muscle atrophy - as aforementioned, we can’t escape the inevitable. But we can control it for quite some time! So what makes our muscles appear deflated and lose that swole appearance? Predominantly age, diet and sleep. Sarcopenia (muscle loss due to ageing) increases as we get older, and is more influential when we take a break from training. There’s not a lot we can do about that one. Diet - it’s simple, when we don’t eat enough or maintain good nutrition, muscle loss will be the first thing to be affected. Think of muscle gains as a luxury our body can do without. So keep the diet in check, keep fuelling your muscles in the right way (plenty of protein, amino acid rich meals) even when you’re not in training - this will likely require some light adjustments to your macro intake. Keep your water intake high! Especially if you’re in hotter climates, or consuming alcohol - remember our muscles are 75% water, so if you’re just slightly dehydrated it will show in your aesthetics. Sleep is also going to be important; prolonged irregular sleeping patterns can affect the bodies ability to build and repair muscle, even when we’re on an exercise break.

Exercise - no gym doesn’t mean no exercise! Getting a pump, no matter how small, will help preserve muscle as you are maintaining muscle fiber recruitment and stimulation - albeit at a lesser intensity. So how do you exercise without a gym? Get creative! A while back I made a pretty sufficient workout within the parameters of a boat cabin; put two chairs together and you have a dipping station, use your hand luggage for tricep extensions, do weighted press ups, curl your luggage etc. If none of that floats your boat, well, consider working on your cardio; go for a run every morning or if your on a beach holiday do some HIIT sand dune running. Utilize what you have available!

Supplements - there’s no reason to stop taking your supplements; I’d always recommend sticking with creatine, multi vitamins and maybe even a BCAA supplement in a period of no training. LA Muscle Nuclear Creatine will help keep your muscles full, and if it’s only a short break (i.e. less than a month) this will save you re-building creatine saturation within the muscles when you train again. The LA Muscle Multiman multi vitamins and LA Muscle 311 BCAAs will help provide optimal levels of nutrients to your
body during this time.

These tips will certainly help most people keep their gains, but don’t be afraid of taking an extended break from training. Perhaps it’s not an
option if you’re in training for a physique show or a boxing bout etc, but for many of us a break will actually be beneficial in the long run. But
then again, who doesn’t want to train!

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