No matter how often you work out and how well you eat your muscles just aren’t becoming pronounced. In fact, they almost seem to be…shrinking. How is that even possible? You quickly go over your head and okay, maybe you shouldn’t have eaten that extra slice of pizza and maybe going out for beers two nights in a row wasn’t ideal, but it could be way worse. However, shrinking muscles is actually more than just a vanity problem. Deteriorating muscles interfere with your daily activities, such as walking, running, or even picking your kids up. This horrifying reality is called sarcopenia and it causes muscle mass to slowly decrease with age. It can be as much as 1% each year after you hit 40.
There are certain things you do (or don’t) that will accelerate the process. But not to worry, there is hope! Here are five activities that are enhancing the wear and tear on your muscles and what you can do to avoid them.
Typically, morning foods are high in sugars and carbs, but these sugary bread stuffed items are really doing nothing for your mind and body. If anything, it’s giving you a quick energy boost that quickly plateaus leaving you sluggish and hungry. The main building block for muscles is protein, yet we usually leave that till the end of our day. Protein helps our muscles rebuild and if we’re eating protein at the end of the day then there’s really not a whole lot of time for it to take effect and work. Instead of pastries and cereal why not grab a cup of yogurt or make some fluffy scrambled eggs? Not only will you have more energy but your physique will start perking up as well.
However, don’t forget your veggies! Just because I said to increase your protein supply doesn’t mean that you need to go on a meat binge. If you do that then your body has a tendency to increase its acid production, which eats away at muscle as well. To even out your protein intake make sure that your fruits and veggies outweigh your meats and grains.
Lastly, and this is usually the hardest, cut back on the booze AFTER a workout. I know, it’s so relaxing and is a must after your marathon run. However, once booze hits our bloodstream it halts the production of new muscle. So, instead of heading for that free brew, try and stave off that urge for at least an hour. Then at least you’ll be able to reap some of the muscle repairing benefits.
When your body finally powers off for the night it’s almost working harder than it does during your wakeful period. The majority of your recovery from a workout, or just regular wear and tear, occurs once you’ve entered your REM cycle. When you’re in various stages different hormones are released that promote muscle regrowth. Scientists just released that the appropriate amount of sleep for adults is a minimum of seven hours a night. So do your body a service and shut off your smart phone, close your book, and let your body do a mini workout of its own.
Lastly, the main way to build muscle is through weight training. If you don’t engage in some type of strength training to build muscle then there’s absolutely no way that you will ever get close to achieving the results you’re wanting. However, just because you’ve started lifting weights day in and day out doesn’t mean that you’re going to achieve the appropriate amount of muscle either…I know, there always seems to be a caveat! If you do the same weight workouts every day your body will plateau or it can take a turn for the worse and begin to regress, and that’s exactly what you’re trying to fight against.
Instead, you should begin doing a light weight for your first few strength training sessions. In doing this, you’re getting your body used to the motions that way you can utilize correct form and not injure yourself in the future. Once you feel comfortable amp up your weight and begin doing repetitions that reach up to 15x per set. Once this begins to feel less challenging that means you either need to bump up your repetitions, or, more than likely, increase the amount of weight. Also, it’s crucial that you’re engaging every part of your body. One day you could try strength training for your hips, while the next day it could specifically be for your calves.
It’s incredibly disturbing when you realize that your muscle is being replaced by skin and fat, but that’s why it’s important to be treating your body the right way. Also, make sure to check in with a physician because sometimes they can prescribe medication that assists in muscle regrowth as well. Whatever the case, don’t lose hope as there’s usually a solution if you just put in a little extra effort (Prevention)!