Atrophy? Who, What, When and Why?

Atrophy? Who, What, When and Why?

If I stop working out for a couple of days will I get fat again?
OMG I am going on holiday, I’m going to come back SO unfit!
Wow! I am struggling this session, I’ve been away for too long
I feel like I have lost all my muscle! I feel so weak!
These are just a few of the things we hear from out clients and at fitcamp.
Atrophy is a very REAL thing AND it happens to EVERYONE! which sucks.
So lets have a look at what atrophy and look a little deeper. Next time you take a training break you can be educated and take the right steps!

What is Atrophy?

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Some of you may of looked at the title and gone…huh?. No worries, I’ll agree it isn’t exactly something you hear everyday!
Atrophy is commonly referred to a wasting away of muscle tissue or a decrease in muscle tissue. Some people refer to it as ‘detraining’ when you find your fitness levels drop, you become weaker and that belly starts to appear again. You probably felt this after not doing any exercise for half a year, then trying to get back in shape for summer OR if you were injured or hurt and couldn’t do any exercise for a number of weeks or months etc.

Who?

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Atrophy or ‘detraining’ happens to everyone. NOBODY CAN ESCAPE!

When?

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Most studies suggest that atrophy begins to occur within 1-2 weeks of not doing any training (I KNOW, SO SHORT!). So long holidays and big breaks are a problem. It’s okay though, while not doing anything will cause atrophy to occur. There are simple programs which can maintain what you have done. It just requires YOU to do a little bit every day.

Why?

Atrophy occurs when the muscles are not being used or someone is inactive from exercise over a period of time (1-2 weeks). Its that simple. If they are not being used, why are they there? You need to continuously activate the muscles and your heart in order to keep them conditioned. Of course sometimes a couple of days off can be a benefit. But generally, large breaks with inactivity are not recommended. You’ll find that because your not exercising as well, there is probably more energy going in then being expended and that belly starts to come back quicker than you expected!

How?

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Okay, this section wasn’t in the title and I wasn’t going to put it in. But Whats the point learning about atrophy/’detraining’ if you don’t know what kind of steps to take to help out?
Simply put, try to keep ACTIVE. Hotel gyms, room workouts, big hikes, bike riding. Anything you do is going to help stem how quickly this process occurs. Getting your heart active and muscles working is going to help. It can be anything from a simple 20 – 50 push ups a day. As long as you are doing SOMETHING its going to decrease how quickly this process occurs. Another step is to make HEALTHY choices. Yes your on holiday and I’m not going to tell you to not binge at all, because well…that’s not going to happen, you’re on holiday. But try to at least make 1 – 2 smart healthy options a day, trust me it will make a huge difference when you come back.
Obviously some ‘detraining’ will occur when you are not progressing yourself consistently, but with some careful management you can help stem the tide.

References

http://www.livestrong.com/article/435701-how-long-can-you-go-without-exercise-before-your-body-starts-to-lose-muscle/
http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/long-can-exercise-before-body-starts-lose-muscle-7497.html

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