Gyms are closed and gains are lost…or are they?


April 15, 2020

I could be bracketed into the segment of body dismorhia

I was fat and likely very insecure just wouldn’t admit it, I lost weight and established somewhat good shape

Then began a journey over 10 years, only really becoming fully comfortable and confident in who I am in the last 5 of these years. Given the first 5 was spent wasting time on areas that only really surmounted to 1% of the total impact.

Here is me, 10 years and 100lbs ago:


I am likely to have wasted easily over £1,000 on pre-workouts that made me feel as though I had just snorted dried battery acid
OD’d on Fat Burners before my fasted cardio at 5am
I was sinking Maximuscle Cyclone 4 times a day (I didn’t know calories were a thing) in the hope that those 3 sets of 10 barbell curls were going to create biceps like Arnie

I was desperate. Clearly.

You get the message

So when a period of self isoloation kicks in or to that matter, enforced restriction on your usual routine and in my case, often an outlet for both physical and mental release, the first thought is “oh god I am going to slip backwards into what I was”

The fear of ‘losing everything ‘ you have built over whatever time period you have spent building will simply dissolve and we will be back to square one.

I am definitely not the only one who feels this way

There is likely a whole host (a much higher % than people are prepared to admit) who operate in the fitness industry / have a strong interest in wellness and fitness who right about now are thinking that their precious muscle they have fought so hard to build will be gone in the blink of an eye.

This though, is very irrational. Whilst it’s a completely normal thought process, it’s also something we do not need to worry about.

Let me hit you with 4 simple home truths that you should be aware of to restore your faith in….well yourself

1. Progressive overload still applies no matter how you choose to train.

  • Research (1) shows that muscular hypertrophy can still be achieved using lower loads, particularly if you are still relatively new to resistance training.
  • This was seen to be effective when the load was above 30% of the 1RM for the given exercises
  • If you’re able to grab yourself a bin, rucksack full of bricks or your partner and providing they are over 30% of your 1RM then you can achieve hypertrophy. Be sensible here, just because you can squat a wardrobe doesn’t mean you should.

  • 2. Muscle does not just simply disappear overnight

  • Multiple studies (2,3) have shown that the strength we have developed during previous years of resistance training is linked to the motor learning effect within the CNS
  • The study showed that 20 weeks of strength training was regained after 30 weeks of detraining in only just 6 weeks due to the motor learning effect
  • The effect of hypertrophy on newly recruited muscle cells can be kept for up to 3 months post training.
  • So whilst you may be feeling a little less pumped than usual, its likely it’s just down to the short term muscle swelling (caused by inflamed damaged tissue) subsiding and not precious gains being lost (4)

  • 3. We should still be tracking our macros and not going with the F**k it approach!

  • Just because we can’t go to the gym doesn’t mean we have to sack everything in and become a shell of our former selves, flicking through past photos of us back in the good old days
  • If you have to stop doing 50% of what you love then it doesn’t make sense to voluntarily give up the other 50%. Remember, a solid nutritional plan combined with resistance training gives you results. Not just one component.

  • 4. Increase your protein intake. Simple.

  • Now I am not saying only eat protein, its unnecessary and expensive.
  • Protein is one of the most studied macro nutrients and has been shown time and time again to help improve satiety (fullness) and therefore reduce over energy intake (5)
  • So in laymen’s terms, we are less likely to polish off the several remaining Easter egg boxes
  • A high protein diet is also more thermogenic and therefore likely to increase our metabolism accordingly (6)

  • Be realistic and reframe your goal;

  • Yes any period of imposed restriction is not ideal in any case especially when it is what you love BUT
  • It’s not forever. If you’re ever going away on an extended holiday you probably go through the same thought process.
  • The break will be good for your body and mind in the long term

  • So take a step back

    1. What equipment do you have at your fingertips, be inventive and add progression each week to the training you do put in place

    2. Be realistic on what you can achieve in the next 2/3 months

    - Yes you likely won’t add 30kg to your deadlift or put on 3lbs of muscle so don’t be upset when it doesn’t happen


    - You can still improve on your sessions (increase reps)
    - You can still drop fat
    - You can still increase your cardiovascular capacity
    - You can still improve your flexibility

    Here is proof that doing resistance training using progressive overload 4 times a week, eating maintenance calories with a higher protein ratio will help keep your gains. Even if it’s not the normal weight you lift on a frequent basis.

    Maybe I should be training harder…

    Whilst the prospect of training in a gym environment with full facilities is very appealing right now, the DOMS will be punishing. That is simply unavoidable.

    What next?

    Try the Gram Programme. This is our tried and tested method of losing fat or gaining muscle. We've distilled our combined 20 years of experience in and out of the gym to a set of simple, repeatable processes that are guaranteed to get results.

    2. Staron RS, et al. Strength and skeletal muscle adaptations in heavy-resistance-trained women after detraining and retraining. J Appl Physiol. 1991;70:631–640
    3. Bruusgaard, J., Johansen, I., Egner, I., Rana, Z. and Gundersen, K., 2020. Myonuclei Acquired By Overload Exercise Precede Hypertrophy And Are Not Lost On Detraining.
    4. Bruusgaard, J., Johansen, I., Egner, I., Rana, Z. and Gundersen, K., 2020. Myonuclei Acquired By Overload Exercise Precede Hypertrophy And Are Not Lost On Detraining.
    5. Pesta, D. and Samuel, V., 2020. A High-Protein Diet For Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms And Possible Caveats.
    6. Acheson, K., Blondel-Lubrano, A., Oguey-Araymon, S., Beaumont, M., Emady-Azar, S., Ammon-Zufferey, C., Monnard, I., Pinaud, S., Nielsen-Moennoz, C. and Bovetto, L., 2020. Protein Choices Targeting Thermogenesis And Metabolism.

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