Wellness Month - Getting Your Fitness Back

Week 2 Of Wellness Month - Exercise

Lockdowns, gyms shut, and winter weather have made for a bleak few months recently. It’s time to check-in and make sure your health isn’t suffering. All throughout June, we are asking our customers to take the time to think about one aspect of their health each week and look to make a positive change.

We’re giving you a breakdown of why these areas are important, tips on how to take some action, and we’re also asking you to take part in our #PRPwellnessmonth challenge - take us and use the hashtag to show and tell us the changes you’re making. This week, it’s all about exercise.

Lockdown Exercise Bug?

Cast your mind back to the summer of 2020 and it probably seemed like everyone had caught the exercise bug. Whether it was people out running or walking, it seemed as though one of the small, small benefits of the restrictions was that people were moving more. Turns out, this might not have been the case. Data collected showed that physical activity actually declines during national lockdowns and sedentary behaviour increased (1). Plus, with gyms shut, competitive sport ground to a halt, it also meant that many people found it hard to get their higher intensity exercise completed.

“I’m gonna be real wit yall - I’m in the worst shape of my life," - Will Smith

Hollywood actor Will Smith even revealed recently that this fate had fallen up him. “I’m gonna be real wit yall - I’m in the worst shape of my life,'' he posted on instragram along with a picture of his current physical condition. He has since been posting some of his workouts and logging his journey back to fitness. For those in the same boat as Will, how long will it take to get back the fitness you had before?

Data collected showed that physical activity actually declined during national lockdowns and sedentary behaviour increased

Detraining

Unfortunately with fitness, the phrase “use it or lose it” is grounded in reality. If we don’t exercise, our physical capacity will go down. What goes up, can come down.

And this appears to be true for pretty much all physiological components:

  • Our muscle capillarisation
  • The enzymes within our muscles
  • The size of our muscle fibres
  • The force we can generate from each muscle fibre

The speed at which this detraining happens can depend on a number of factors:

  • Your training age and experience
  • Your training level
  • Your age
  • Genetics
However, just doing something, rather than completely stopping, can slow down this decline

At the extreme end, complete inactivity can lead to muscle atrophy in just two days (2). In elite cyclists, 4 weeks of downtime during the off-season saw their aerobic fitness fall by over 10% and their cycling power output fell by just under 10% (3). However, just doing something, rather than completely stopping, can slow down this decline.

In elite kayakers, those who continued to do a small amount of training during the offseason (they did less than 20% of their usual training volume), lost less than 5% of their endurance and strength compared to a group that did no training (4). So, a little bit can go a long way in trying to maintain your fitness level.

The good news is that it seems that we can get back to a previous fitness level much quicker than we lose it.

Retraining

So if you do “lose it”, how long might it take you to get it back? The good news is that it seems that we can get back to a previous fitness level much quicker than we lose it. For example, a study in older males showed that after 24 weeks of complete detraining, their strength decreased by an average of 17% when measured by bench press, rows, bicep curls, leg press and leg extension (5). However, they were able to regain all of this lost fitness in just 12 weeks. In another group, when people detrained for 12 weeks and then retrained, they not only recovered their lost strength, they were still able to improve their fitness levels relative to the start of the study (6).

If you have a good training history, this rebound is probably going to be even quicker. Two groups of female athletes were recruited to a study - one group had a large training history, the other had never performed any strength training. They both completed a 20 week strength training block followed by a 32 week detraining period. Their strength increased with the training and then decreased to near baseline levels by the end of the 32 weeks of no training. However, after just 6 weeks, the group that had a larger training history were able to recover the gains they had lost, while the group with no previous training did not. We hopefully won’t be heading into another lockdown anytime soon, this is still relevant for when you take a break from training or when you might be injured.

Nutrition on Point:

  • We have written before about the importance of protein in and around training and described how much you need.
  • If you are returning to training after some time off, you might be more susceptible to exercise induced muscle damage and delayed onset muscle soreness - check out which nutrients can help you recover
  • There is new and emerging data that omega 3 supplements can help us build muscle. Whether you're trying to limit muscle atrophy during a period of detraining or trying to increase muscle growth during training, make sure you’ve added it to your diet or supplement stack.

The Challenge

For this week’s challenge, we want to see you workout. Head over to our facebook or instagram pages and tag us with your photo of your training session. Make sure to use the hashtag #PRPwellnessmonth

References

1) Stockwell, S., Trott, M., Tully, M., Shin, J., Barnett, Y., Butler, L., ... & Smith, L. (2021). Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 7(1), e000960.

2) Kilroe, S. P., Fulford, J., Jackman, S. R., Van Loon, L. J., & Wall, B. T. (2019). Temporal muscle-specific disuse atrophy during one week of leg immobilization.

3) Maldonado-Martín, S., Cámara, J., James, D. V., Fernández-López, J. R., & Artetxe-Gezuraga, X. (2017). Effects of long-term training cessation in young top-level road cyclists. Journal of sports sciences, 35(14), 1396-1401.

4) García-Pallarés, J., García-Fernández, M., Sánchez-Medina, L., & Izquierdo, M. (2010). Performance changes in world-class kayakers following two different training periodization models. European journal of applied physiology, 110(1), 99-107.

5) Henwood, T. R., & Taaffe, D. R. (2008). Detraining and retraining in older adults following long-term muscle power or muscle strength specific training. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological S

6) Blocquiaux, S., Gorski, T., Van Roie, E., Ramaekers, M., Van Thienen, R., Nielens, H., ... & Thomis, M. (2020). The effect of resistance training, detraining and retraining on muscle strength and power, myofibre size, satellite cells and myonuclei in older men. Experimental gerontology, 133, 110860.