Will I Lose Strength During Coronavirus?

It is the question I am hearing nonstop – “Am I going to lose my strength while the gym is closed?!”

First off, let’s take a deep breath. If this is your biggest challenge during Coronavirus then you are doing alright.

But the question does deserve a conversation. You have worked years to build strength, adding pounds to your bench, squat, and deadlift. You have spent hours at the gym, dialed in your nutrition, and you are proud of yourself for all the progress you have made. It’s fair to be a little worried you might lose it all!

So are you?

In short, yes and no. And much of the answer to this question depends on what you are doing right now!

How fast do I lose strength?

How fast you lose strength is entirely dependent on what you do during this closure: Have you resorted to no training and couch surfing? Or have you been performing exercises even if minimal. 

If you are doing nothing, then the science is pretty strong. You will lose strength. There is no doubt about it. But you didn’t come here for the obvious question and answer! 

What happens if you perform minimal exercise, say twice a week? You are following along with your gym’s programing, tuning in to Instagram workouts, and even found channels on YouTube you enjoy following along with! Will I lose strength then? 

While not completely straightforward, the evidence points to no. Many studies have been done to show even minimal exercise can help maintain strength numbers during periods of inactivity.

Additionally for the average gym goer, their strength is not limited by the ability of their muscles to produce force, but from something else. Things like overtraining, lifting too often and not allowing the body to recover, or poor mobility, which causes the body to move in inefficient patterns, leads to many more plateaus in athletes than strength limitations.

Maintaining Strength, a Real Life Example

Take a collegiate athlete. A person with years of dedicated training and athletic development. After an intense and grueling season of competing at the highest level and demanding the most out of their body, what do they do?

They take an off season and allow their body to recover. They stop taxing their muscles, lifting heavy, and their nervous system’s get a break. Their workouts consist of more cardio, light weight weights and bodyweight movements, mobility around their joints. And after they return from their two month break, they are mentally and physically prepared to return to training. With retraining, they quickly catch back up to their previous numbers.

Where do I go from here?

So what should I be doing with my strength during this quarantine? In short, don’t worry about it! For most of us, we are incredibly limited in what we can do for fitness. So let’s focus on the things we can:

  • Full body intense workouts 3+ times a week.
  • Improve range of motion and movement efficiency.
  • Get outside and enjoy the sunlight.