Week 6 of lockdown, might be week 7, not sure. Let’s talk about gains! As I can see from Social Media, the vast majority of you guys are keeping your activity levels up, joining in ION FB Live workouts, doing the ION Lockdown Open, CrossFit Mini-Open, ION Marathon Challenge, and various other exercises. Great stuff! I’d say the majority of us are doing more conditioning workouts as we don’t have access to any heavy weights.
What will we expect to see as a result of the lack of strength training?
De-training, muscular atrophy, negative gainz, this is the main issue we will see after lockdown. Without access to heavy tin, inevitably we will experience some degree of atrophy as we are not providing our bodies with the heavy stimulus it needs to maintain our strength or muscle mass.
How much of an effect will this have?
In a trained individual, someone who has been lifting weights for years, we will see a smaller degree of atrophy compared to someone who has just started.
Time taken to regain lost strength or muscle mass?
Anecdotally, when I took 3 months off strength training to chase sheep in Australia, it probably took me about 3 months to get back to where I was before I stopped.
What can we do to mitigate these negative gainz?
- Keep your protein levels up.
- Try and do some BW Tempo Training, this will provide some hypertrophy stimulus.
- Keep doing your conditioning, this will help you maintain endurance in order to tolerate strength sessions when you get back to it.
Below are some ‘Fitness Radar Charts’ I’ve made of my perceived fitness levels before, and projected fitness after lockdown. I’m almost definitely going to be weaker and less powerful. But I will definitely be better on the rower at the end of this, as well as improving my overall aerobic capacity/cardiovascular endurance.
What to expect when returning to training?
Whatever you do, don’t just pick up from where you left off! We increase the risk of injury if we just jump back into lifting the same weights as pre-lockdown. Technique may be diminished in weightlifting, tendons and ligaments not as strong as they were, and of course, skeletal muscle weakened too.
How long will it take to get back to where you were?
ION’s post-lockdown programming will take all this into account, we’re not going to dive straight back into maxing out our Back Squat and doing Murph in Week 1. We will gradually build you back up over the course of several weeks/months. All that being said, we’re in a bloody pandemic, so don’t worry too much about it.
During hibernation in squirrels, whilst you would expect to see severe muscle wastage, the squirrel actually up regulates protein synthesis in the latter part of hibernation, and whilst it loses around 40% body mass, it maintains it’s leg mass and strength!