5 bad fitness habits that make you lose muscle mass
The foundation of any successful fitness regimen is built on healthy habits. Whether your goal is to run your first marathon, set a personal record for the deadlift, or commit to a daily walking routine, sticking to regular habits that push you on your way to a healthier and better state is key. However, when it comes to achieving your health and fitness goals, knowing what not to do is often just as important. Building and maintaining muscle mass is no exception to this universal rule. To help you develop and maintain your lean muscles, we’re sharing five bad fitness habits that cause muscle loss that you can avoid at all costs.
You can spend countless hours in the gym and train with the intensity of a Tasmanian devil, but if you have bad fitness habits, you’re shooting yourself in the mouth and are unlikely to achieve your fitness goals. Fortunately, by making minor changes in your diet, exercise routine, and daily behavior, you can drastically avoid the pitfalls of bad habits improve your ability to grow muscle. Certified personal trainer Kate Meier, CPT from Gym Garage Reviews shares a summary of what bad fitness habits you should avoid like the plague. Keep reading to find out what they are, then check it out Top 5 Diet and Exercise Tips for Rebuilding Muscle.
A safe way to lose muscle mass does not consume enough energy (calories). Food is the fuel for your muscles, and if you’re not consuming enough calories, it means your body will be running on an empty tank.
“A significant reduction in calories combined with intense cardio will lead to muscle loss over time,” says Meier. “Speak with a nutritionist or use an online calorie calculator to determine how many calories your body needs to maintain daily functions and your exercise regimen.”
“Constant training is a key aspect of building muscle, but overtraining can have the exact opposite effect,” warns Meier. Unless you’re an endurance athlete running a marathon or competing in a triathlon, too much exercise can lead to overtraining syndrome (OTS), a condition that occurs when you don’t allow for proper recovery after consistent, vigorous workouts, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Additionally, reduced glycogen in the muscles levels i muscle weakness are related to overtraining, research shows. Common symptoms of OTS include prolonged fatigue, poor sleep quality, low energy, persistent muscle pain and mood swings, according to HSS.
Sleep is probably the most powerful (but also the most underrated) aspect of any health or fitness goal. Practicing good sleep hygiene and making high-quality, restorative sleep a top priority will help you maintain and grow your muscles. Research shows that lack of quality sleep or insufficient sleep can increase the risk of losing muscle mass.
“Your muscles repair and grow while you sleep, and sleep regulates almost all of your bodily functions,” says Meier. “Aim to get eight solid hours of shuteye each night. This will help prevent long-term fatigue and help muscle growth if you exercise consistently.”
Your body is made up of about 20% protein; it’s in all your cells. Therefore, the intake of sufficient protein is crucial not only for good health, but also for building and maintaining muscle mass.
“Regardless of your nutritional strategy, make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet,” says Meier. “Muscles are powered by protein, so proper recovery and muscle growth depend on it.”
While the International Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is for the amount of protein you should consume 0.8 grams per kilogram of your body weightyou will need to consume more if your goal is to optimize muscle growth and recover faster from exercise. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a daily intake of between 1.2 and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for best results. Just make sure you do strength training and get your protein from whole food sources and high quality protein powders.
While regular cardio is fantastic for overall health, overdoing it can cause muscle wasting. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans we recommend that healthy adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week. However, consistently exceeding this threshold—combined with insufficient caloric intake or strength training—is a bad habit for anyone looking to maintain or regain muscle mass.
“It’s key to make sure your body gets adequate energy before cardio, because as much as it helps you burn more calories and fat, it will also burn muscle after other energy sources are used up,” says Meier. “The bottom line is that you should find a good balance between cardio and strength training if your goal is to grow muscle.”
Adam is a 100% plant-based health writer, certified holistic nutritionist and athlete. Read more about Adam