T Nation

Keep Your Strength When Not Training


Hello again, everyone. I'm sure there are some of you tired of seeing my posts and my inexperience, but there's another issue that I need help with.

Every time I have to stop going to the gym for some reason, I seem to lose almost all my strength that I gained in the time I WAS going to the gym. Like this past time, I recently got back in the gym after being out of town for around three months.

While out of town I was unable to lift and suffered greatly for it. I got back into the gym finally and ALL my lifts went down, badly. I went from squatting 405 lbs for sets to struggling with 225 for a 5x5. The only thing that was really unaffected was my deadlift.

I was wondering if there's some secret to keeping all your strength gains, even when unable to get to the gym for extended periods.

Thank you.


There's always going to be some loss in your high-end strength during such a long layoff, but your hope should be that the muscle memory paradigm is true and you'll be able to regain this strength within a matter of a few weeks, provided you are consistent and eat well.

I don't like being out of town for very long for the sole reason that my routine gets screwed up, so when you travel for longer periods of time, try as best as you can to emulate the normal routine that you have at home (i.e., same diet, same activities if possible). If you have no access to weights, at the very least do some bodyweight circuits at a higher intensity and focus on training your conditioning and endurance during the layoff. Bring resistance bands with you, they help out a lot.

I also like to consume several grams of BCAAs spread out throughout the day when I'm on vacation or have time off training. Not sure if this actually helps prevent losing too much muscle, but it can't hurt.


The muscle memory has been returning, but it's slower than I'd like. Also, I don't have enough monies to afford any sort of supplements or vitamins like that; it's taking all I have right now just to be able to afford protein powder.

Returning to the question of muscle memory: it's always worked well for me, but I was wanting to know if there was some way to keep the strength in the first place so I don't have to hope for my muscle memory to return.


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say pics of "squatting 405 for sets" and doesn't know that time off from the gym will lead to strength loss.. also 200lb drop?


Yeah. Also muscle memory =/= strength. Muscle memory is about performing a movement pattern without conscious effort. You could, in theory, maintain muscle memory by squatting with a broom stick every so often, but you would still lose strength.

There is no way to maintain strength with layoffs lasting 3 months. With all due respect, that's a pretty foolish question.

But, in an attempt to be constructive, if you travel a lot and don't have access to weights for extended periods, try doing bodyweight exercises ala "convict conditioning" or "solitary fitness". I haven't done them myself, but I know many have with some success.