So we're a few days into isolation, I'm not big on social media but I'm trying to keep a business running and I have clients to look after, so naturally I'm on social media a bit more and one big thing I've noticed is that there is A LOT of freaking the f#$k out going on!
It seems a lot of people have forgotten that there are other things to do still. All of a sudden I'm seeing 3/4, even 5 separate workouts posted a day...because they're bodyweight sessions or they've constructed a barbell by nailing together parts of their bed frame and the dog and it's just not heavy enough and you may no longer be able to get away with calling yourself Lady MacBuff on Twitter and AAAAH!!
It's cool, take a sec. Let's actually try to evaluate the importance/implications of keeping your usual lifting routine during this next few weeks.
Here's a few things to consider:
1. Life is still happening around you!
Don't take this the wrong way, your fitness and mental well-being is massively important and if you are in the position to keep your normal routine then by all means, do. But try not to focus on it any more than normal! Your friends and family need you as much now, if not more than they ever have. Make time for them and use this as an opportunity to focus on some other things!
Reach out to people you haven't checked on in a while, learn a new skill, find a quiet place and go for a long walk, maybe RELAX!!
Times like this will not happen often. If you've come out of this with boulder shoulders but you don't know where your Nan is, you've done it wrong.
2. You won't evaporate overnight.
Generally speaking, muscle mass starts to drop with somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks of INACTIVITY. Most of us will not be inactive during this time. One bodyweight session or a few weeks lifting lighter weights with a well put together programme will be more than sufficient in allowing you to maintain your current levels of muscle mass. Don't over do it.
3. Caloric intake.
A lot was made about panic buying and I'm sure I've seen a couple of guys from the gym take to the street with home made snares in the hope a lost chicken walks past.
However most of us won't be in a caloric deficit during this time despite the lack of chicken breast out there. For starters, I don't
actually think most people have found it too difficult to stock the cupboards with the kind of stuff you normally would. Couple this with the fact that most of us are generally doing less in terms of non-exercise calorie burning for the majority of the day and we're probably going to be easily eating a "maintenance" level of calories at the very least.
4. "Muscle Memory".
This is a thing! (kinda). Most reading this will already be gym goers and most will have a regular resistance training routine. This one is for you. If you do end up finding that you've lost an amount of muscular size during this period, keep this theory in mind and don’t panic. You'll get it back, and it potentially won't be as hard as gaining it the first time around.
I won't go into it too much but when we grow our muscles, we increase the number of nuclei in our muscle fibres in order to allow them to keep functioning and growing. Recent research has shown that when we lose muscle mass, we in fact seem to keep the same increased number of nuclei despite a decrease in the size of the muscle fibres, meaning when we resume training we can re-grow these muscle fibres more effectively.
I'm not saying let it go....but if you do, don't lose your mind over it.
5. Embrace trying something new!
For lack of a better phrase, there are a s#*t ton of workouts and training ideas being put out there by the fitness community at the moment. Not all good and not all smart it has to be said, but if you trust who you follow then why not give some of their workouts a try.
This is an amazing and unique opportunity to push yourself into something you wouldn't usually do. Try a HIIT workout, get involved with a session with the kids, do a yoga session, find a big bugger of a hill in the middle of nowhere and sprint up it 'til you need your mummy. Just try different things. You're still active, you're still working and a greater all round fitness could (will, 100%, unequivocally, without a doubt) help you when you return to the gym.
I guess what I'm saying is, although there are certainly challenges to overcome and adaptations to be made when it comes to your training regime over the coming weeks and months, don't let it consume you!
Exercise is great for mental health as well as the obvious physical benefits. Having an unhealthy relationship with exercise and a life out of balance, is not.
Stay safe, stop lifting the dog and for god's sake ring your Nan.