Love to do workout and stay fit, this thing is developed in me over the past few years. So it might come as a bit of surprise that even though fitness is a big part of my life, these days, I sometimes only fits in one or two workouts a week.
I used to work out six days a week, but sometimes it’s one or two times a week and that just kind of has to be OK. And it is OK because whatever I’m doing that’s keeping me out of the gym is important. Just like anyone, spending time with my family, working on my professional goals, and just having fun wins out over workouts sometimes, and that’s what balance is about.
Even though, scaling back on my rigorous workout schedule doesn’t necessarily mean losing out on the results I worked hard for. While going from six days of working out a week to just one or two may sound like a big step down, two days of training a week can absolutely be enough to maintain muscle mass, that’s what I believe. And that’s particularly true when you’ve reached a high fitness level.
Here’s why: Spending years training consistently, means you’ve not only developed your muscles themselves, but also your neuromuscular connections or the signals your brain sends to your muscle fibers to contract (which is how they grow). The brain is literally connecting to the muscle in the movements you’re doing and making those movements more effective. Stronger signals mean more muscle engagement, which experts suggest comes from either recruiting more muscle fibers or getting those fibers to fire more quickly and efficiently.
Once you’ve developed these pathways and reached your strength goals by putting them to work (which takes a different amount of time for everyone), you can actually get away with doing less without sacrificing your results.
Muscle mass is something which needs lots of effort to gain and once you have reached that goal then you can significantly start working towards maintaining it.
Aerobic fitness, on contrary, is a different story—even for super-fit people, cardiovascular ability can go down in just a couple of weeks of inactivity. But since it’s quick to lose, it’s also relatively easy to build it back up within a few weeks, especially if you were in great shape before.
It’s also worth noting that nutrition plays a big role in maintaining your muscle mass. You still need to make healthy nutrition choices, particularly when it comes to getting enough protein, which is the nutrient that acts as the “building block” for muscles.
In a nutshell, even if you’re not in a maintenance phase, how often you work out, all depends on your consistency. And if that’s two days a week sometimes, that’s totally fine. If you’re doing two full-body workouts twice a week and you’re doing compound movements for 40, 50, or 60 minutes, you can totally going fine. If you’re working toward a certain goal, like a 200-pound deadlift or a 5K race, you might need to put in more time. But for general health, just do as much as you can. Consistency is more important than struggling to keep up with a five-day plan and then falling off.
Stay fit and keep active.