Whether you’re on vacation or just taking a break from the gym, the last thing you want to do is lose all the amazing muscle mass you worked your ass off for.
Science shows that lifters will start losing muscle mass after about 2-3 weeks of not lifting or training.
So if you find yourself taking a break for more than 2 weeks, it may be a cause for concern…
Injuries are also a big reason why people halt their gym activities. But getting injured doesn’t mean you have to suffer and watch your gains slowly drain down the toilet.
Here are a few things you can do to maintain that beautiful muscle mass.
Consume A High Protein Diet
Surprise, eating a high amount of protein will help keep your muscles intact, even when you’ve stopped lifting for a while!
Protein and amino acids are the base of all muscle growth.
Ever notice that when bodybuilders or athletes go on a ‘cut’ the research shows to eat a higher amount of protein than normal?
Why is this the case?
Training in a caloric deficit will naturally burn off muscle and fat in order to provide your body with energy since it’s not getting enough from food.
But higher protein will help maintain that muscle mass much better than if you were to not eat much protein at all.
The same goes for athletes who are taking a break from the gym. Keep eating high protein the same way you would when you train.
How much protein should you aim for a day?
Shoot for around .6-.75 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 200 pounds, this means consuming between 120 and 150 grams of protein a day.
Stay Lightly Active
Even when taking a break from the gym, staying lightly active and movement is essential for maintaining muscle mass.
I remember watching a video on Bodybuilding.com of a bodybuilder who happened to be sent off to Iraq at the start of the war.
He worried about losing all of his muscle mass that he worked for over the course of the past decade because there was no gym at his base.
To solve the problem, he stayed active by lifting and moving around with sandbags and used his own body as a weight by doing jump squats, pushups, sprints, etc.
I remember him specifically saying that to maintain muscle mass, you only need to do 1/3 of the workout you normally do, meaning you don’t need to train or strain yourself as much.
Just giving your muscles a little pump to get the blood flowing is all you need.
Try BFR Training
If you don’t know by now, one of my favorite methods of training is BFR.
Short for Blood Flow Restriction Training, BFR uses the applications of bands like tourniquets. These bands can be placed on areas such as the top of your arms, legs, calves, and forearms.
The purpose of these bands is to trap as much blood into the area where the bands are applied.
This will give you the craziest pump you have ever felt… Your muscles will be engorged in blood!
BFR training is amazing because you don’t train with heavy weights or strain yourself. It’s perfect for those who are injured or who are taking a break from the gym.
BFR training focuses on training high reps with very light weight (around 20% of your 1RM) and only about 30 seconds of rest between sets. Super quick and super effective!
4-6 sets is all you need to get a crazy pump on any body part!
Now you may be skeptical and wondering how effective BFR training really is…
Multiple studies have been conducted showcasing that BFR training increases both hypertrophy and strength gains.
But the most remarkable study showed that individuals who just went on a daily walk with BFR bands wrapped around their legs increased their muscle mass and strength!
Yes, walking was all it took to increase leg thickness by almost 4% over the course of 3 weeks with BFR bands.
If you find yourself taking a break from the gym, just getting some light daily exercise in with some BFR bands is all it takes to maintain or even make gains in muscle mass!
If you’re looking for some BFR bands I highly recommend you check these adjustable training bands on Amazon that work fantastic!
Consume Enough Calories
Calories in vs. calories out…
That’s the basic equation for building muscle. You can lift all the weights you want, but if you’re not consuming enough calories, you’re not going to make major progress.
If you want to gain muscle mass, you must consume in a caloric surplus.
For fat loss, you must consume in a caloric deficit.
So to maintain muscle mass, you must consume the same amount of calories that your body burns.
A general rule of thumb is to multiply your bodyweight by 14. This number will give you a rough estimate of how many calories you should be eating a day to maintain muscle mass.
If you weigh 200 pounds this means consuming around 2,800 calories (200 x 14 = 2,800).
For a better more accurate calculator, use this Bodybuilding.com calculator and select ‘maintenance’ as your goals option.
The more active you are in your daily life, the more calories you will need to consume to maintain muscle mass.
Eating high caloric foods at every meal is very important.
Here’s a list of vegan foods you should try incorporating into your diet if you’re having trouble consuming enough calories.
- Pumpkins seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Peanut Butter
- Dried Fruit And Berries
- Beans (All Kinds)
Naturally Boost Your Testosterone
Did you know testosterone is the main male hormone responsible for building muscle?
But do you know how effective it actually is?
Studies have been done that show even if you don’t lift weights and inject testosterone you’ll build more muscle than someone who lifts weights and doesn’t inject.
This is why it’s key to keep your testosterone levels as high as possible when trying to maintain muscle mass.
There’s a key list of do’s and don’ts when trying to boost your test levels.
Here’s a list of what you should be doing
- Get 8 hours of high quality sleep
- Lift heavy weights (mainly compound lifts)
- Avoid blue light before bed (better sleep)
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Get 30-45 minutes of sun daily
- Consume foods high in zinc and healthy fats
- Relax and live stress-free as much as possible
- Increase your sexual activity
Low testosterone will not only cut down your muscle mass, but it will also increase your belly fat as well.
Low test is also associated with a whole host of ailments such as stress, heart issues, cardiovascular issues, depression, and much more.
Safe to say, just try and keep your T-levels as high as possible.
Maintaining muscle mass doesn’t have to be a complicated process.
Remember to stay lightly active and still carry on the same principles as you would normally: Eat well, get some sun, sleep well, relax, and let the human body do what it does.
It takes about 3 weeks for muscle mass to start to dissipate, so best bet is to avoid long breaks of not exercising.
Cheers and best of luck!