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Stop weight training

Stop weight training


In life, we never know how things might turn out: a change in job, family, injury or illness, and we're forced to stop bodybuilding.

Sometimes this stop in muscle-building is only for a few days (which will have no consequences), or a few weeks (which already has a little more impact on your body), but sometimes it can be a permanent stop. In this case, the consequences are far more serious, both for your body and psychologically.

It's this permanent cessation of bodybuilding and sport that I'm going to talk about today, because it's something we're all likely to have to deal with at one time or another. What happens when we stop training? Loss of muscle mass? Do all the muscles melt away and turn to fat? Can we compensate by eating better week after week? There are a lot of myths out there. Let's take a look.

Consequences of loss of muscular activity

The consequences of stopping sport, and how quickly they appear, will depend on a number of factors: your age, your years of practice and your state of fitness.

the aesthetic aspect

After a few weeks without training, the first thing you'll notice is that your muscles will appear less hard and voluminous. This is because the inflammation caused by training no longer takes place, and your muscles gradually lose their density.

muscle atrophy begins, and mass is lost. As a result of this loss of muscle mass, your basic metabolism slows down. The result is an increase in body fat if your diet is not adapted(alcohol, cheat meals of all kinds, etc.).

What's more, as your muscles are no longer stimulated by an active workout, and therefore no longer accustomed to training, they will lose their glycogen storage capacity. This is linked to the fact that, as the volume of fibers is smaller, there is less reserve capacity.

impact on muscle strength

Other changes linked to stopping bodybuilding: you'll lose strength. Your muscles will also lose their endurance, as they are under-trained.

Muscles that are no longer stimulated by relentless exercise will inevitably lose their capacity to resist, as they no longer need to adapt to the different workloads to which they were subjected. This loss of endurance is linked to the loss of contraction capacity, which is less pronounced as fibers lose their density and their capacity to store glycogen, creatine and blood.

As less blood reaches the muscles due to reduced vascularization, muscle contraction mechanisms lose their effectiveness.

Neurological effects

Neurotransmitters also lose their effectiveness in transmitting contraction commands, as they are no longer stimulated by training.

As you can see, from a physiological point of view, a lot happens when you stop weight training, but it doesn't stop there. In fact, over and above maladaptation to training, there are reactions that take place in the brain when you train, which no longer occur when you stop.

When you make an effort of varying duration in bodybuilding or any other physical activity, a stream of hormones is released by the brain. These hormones have different effects (growth, recovery...), but one in particular is responsible for well-being: serotonin.

Hormonal reactions

This hormone, often released by intensive training, provides a feeling of well-being and calm which acts as a "reward" in the brain. When weight training is stopped, as in other sports, this serotonin secretion no longer occurs in the same quantities, leading many athletes to experience a state of "lack" which translates into depression.

This state, combined with the image reflected in the mirror after a few months without practising your favourite exercises, is psychologically very hard to cope with.

Advice on how to limit the effects of stopping bodybuilding?

I've been there myself. I had to stop bodybuilding and went through the various stages described above (muscle wasting, loss of strength, depression). And I have to say that the most difficult was the lack of serotonin secretion.

In fact, to compensate for the loss of muscle and to avoid seeing my physique return to zero, I continued to maintain myself with bodyweight exercises. I used my training experience and skills to find the right exercises. I also turned to well-known fitness and muscle-building apps (Freeletics, sworkit...).

However, the training load wasn't stimulating enough to secrete enough serotonin to make me feel good in my head. Having been a cycling enthusiast since I was very young, I took up cycling and was able to rediscover a sense of balance and well-being.

Adapting my diet to prevent weight gain

At the same time as I stopped weight training, I adapted my diet by cutting out two snacks during the day and reducing my rations. As a result, I've managed to keep the weight off and maintain a body fat percentage close to 10%. Of course, cycling has also helped me a great deal in this respect, as after several hours in the saddle, the body burns off a good number of calories and body fat is used alongside food as fuel.

Today, I've rediscovered a sense of balance and well-being thanks to the practice of another activity, and this is what I'd advise anyone who stops bodybuilding for one reason or another. Contrary to popular belief, muscle does not turn into fat, but due to under-training, it loses volume, strength and endurance (resistance).

Fat mass, on the other hand, can increase as a result of a drop in basic metabolism and a diet that remains unchanged even though you're no longer exercising. Simply reduce the size and number of rations to maintain an athletic physique.

What sport can I do after weight training?

Many people choose an endurance sport after they've stopped weight training, such as running or cycling, because their duration helps maintain the heart muscle, keeps body fat levels relatively low and provides a good dose of serotonin, which makes you feel good after you've stopped. Perfect for the body.

So it's up to you to find out which activity will enable you to maintain an athletic physique and muscle, but also a serene and peaceful mind.

Author Alexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his experience of bodybuilding with MegaGear blog readers