We're always looking at what we can do to exercise our muscles, but there's something very important we should not overlook regarding what we should NOT do to our muscles so that we don't have muscle breakdown and atrophy.
Swedish and American scientists teamed up on this research study to find out just how bad complete bed rest is for our muscles. In the study, they subjected eight men to a 3-day period of lower-limb suspension (for one leg only).
J Appl Physiol 105: 902-906, 2008. Skeletal muscle proteolysis in response to short-term unloading in humans Per A. Tesch,1,5 Ferdinand von Walden,1 Thomas Gustafsson,2 Richard M. Linnehan,4 and Todd A. Trappe3
They tracked how quickly the muscle started to breakdown. Surprisingly, the scientists saw significant increases in muscle loss in only 3 days of complete inactivity. In fact, the researchers identified this time period as being the most rapid time of muscle loss.
That's bad news for anyone who breaks a limb, is laid up for several days, or for those folks who just decide they don't want to be active anymore. For those folks who get injured or sick, consult with your doctor on how you can limit muscle loss.
If you are healthy, don't let days go by without exercising. You'll lose muscle fast, and you'll have to work twice as hard to get it back. The great thing about resistance training is that it is not only the best way to build strength and muscle, but you can also get great results in as little as 10-15 minutes, three times per week.
For example, if you chose one pushing exercise and one pulling exercise, such as pushups and dumbbell rows, and alternate between them for 3 sets, you can get that done in 5-7 minutes. Resistance training is fast, fun and effective for helping you keep valuable muscle tissue.
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS