Olive's Gym: How to Maintain Muscle Mass
On average, muscles begin to atrophy (decrease in mass) after three days from lack of use. That might seem too short of a time to be accurate, but it’s true! The human body is constantly conserving itself, however it can, and that includes using less energy while resting.
It also depends on your age and how muscular you are. Physically fit and muscular people are more likely to notice muscular atrophy since they’re constantly pushing their bodies to handle much more than the average day requires. That’s why they’re constantly ‘hitting’ the gym, or going for a run, at least three, four times a week!
Having more muscle mass means the body needs to devote more oxygen and nutrients to maintaining that mass. So, when the body has muscles that it doesn’t regularly use, it begins to break those muscles down to lower the body’s basal metabolic rate.
That’s why, according to recent research, it’s better to exercise lightly every day instead of the usual recommendation of three sessions per week. Doing so forces your body to stay at a more metabolically active state and convinces it to keep the muscle mass you have.
So, if you’re feeling flabbier than you used to, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. To get started on building back and maintaining a healthier body, you won’t need to undergo more intensive training regimens, you’ll just have to exercise more often!
Here are some (equipment-free) full-body exercises that help maintain muscle mass:
- Stair Stepping
The Baby Boomers had this one right in the 70’s. Technicolor gym clothes are back in style, so why not stair stepping? It’s as simple as it sounds, but we’re going to add some more movements to this exercise to make sure that it’s, well, an exercise.
Regular sized stairs are a good place to start. Power walk up two steps. Make sure to keep your shoulders and back straight. As you would do while power walking, with each step you take, at the same time swing your opposite arm up and your other arm back, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, in the same way and at the same pace without stopping, power walk backwards down two steps.
Be careful not to lose your balance! Repeat for fifteen minutes without stopping, take a break, and then repeat again for another fifteen minutes. As this task gets easier, try finding bigger steps to work on!
- The V-Up
It’s not a sit-up, it’s not a crunch, it’s a v-up! Regular sit-ups focus on the pelvis, abdomen, and lower back, which is good, but this exercise gives you a better full-body workout. This exercise is better performed on a softer surface than a hard floor, like a yoga mat or a firm rug.
The v-up requires you to form a “V” with your body, balancing on your butt and lower back. First, lie down on your back. Stretch your arms above your head, palms facing up. Press your legs together, and without bending your knees, lift them about 30 degrees off of the ground. Lift your upper body, while keeping your arms straight. The exercise begins from this position.
Without bending your knees, lift your legs and upper body at the same time, until you can touch your toes (or your shins) with your hands. Then, lower your upper body and legs until you return to the beginning position, balanced on your lower back and butt, without letting your arms or legs touch the mat.
Even after one repetition, most people are able to feel how it’s a good strengthening exercise for your whole body, from neck to shoulders, to the abdomen all the way to your feet. Repeat ten times for one set, as steadily as possible. Whew!
If this exercise is too challenging to accomplish at first, try just lifting your legs with your back firmly on the mat, holding them together without bending your knees. Repeat twenty times for one set. This will be good for maintaining and building your lower abdomen, pelvis, and quadriceps.
- The Push Up
The classic pushup! While this exercise might not need an introduction, people often make mistakes in form, which take away from the benefit of the exercise. When performed correctly, the pushup is a great strengthening exercise for the forearms, triceps, chest, core, and ankles.
Try to make sure to hold your body straight, without bending your back, hips, or knees as you lower your body.
Make sure to bring your whole body down to about 4” off the mat. That’s about the size of one fist between your chest/abdomen and the floor!
Make sure to keep your elbows tucked by your side! There are different styles of pushups, but it’s good to begin this way, to help build all of your muscles in your shoulders, arms, and chest.
And that’s it! Do as many as you can within a minute, take five, and then repeat! After three sets, you’ll have a good feel for where your body needs maintenance.
Complete any two of these exercises, thirty minutes a day, five days a week, and you’ll feel yourself getting your strength back! If you want to see how much muscle these exercises can help you build, try FITTO today, to see what it can do for you! With FITTO, you’ll be able to track your muscle gains, as well as changes in muscle quality over time and this data can help you get results faster!
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