T Nation

Maintain Muscle Without Weights?

Due to situational/financial/location circumstances i’m not able to lift weights for a extended period of time (3-5+ months).

Would I be able to maintain most of my muscle if i were to keep my calorie intake up and stayed active (running/swimming/bodyweight exercises) basically staying active.

Now i know that minimal muscle loss is imminent but could i still maintain most of it by staying active and following a healthy high calorie diet?

I believe you can. The body will only lose muscle if your not using them. In addition to your activities listed, I would also include body weight exercises.

However, your muscles may become smaller do to the fact that they will probably become more slow twitch. Thats why for cardio, I’d stick with explosive based ones, like sprinting, or even jump rope. Include plyometric bodyweight exercises in addition to your regular bodyweight exercises.

Remember, this is not optimal. Afterall, getting to the gym and lifting serious iron will always prove better, but this is just for maintenance.

Don’t forget to keep your calories in check!

[quote]rbush28 wrote:
Now i know that minimal muscle loss is imminent but could i still maintain most of it by staying active and following a healthy high calorie diet?[/quote]

Yes. In fact, I would “bulk” for the first month or so and then just do body weight exercises while “cutting” for the rest of the time.

You can also fashion your own resistance implements out of heavy awkward shaped objects. Just find some heavy stuff to pick up and carry and lift/squat a bunch of different ways.

Cheap way to make the bodyweight exercises harder: Get some heavy stuff and put it in a backpack. Rocks or whatever u can find.

Actually I’d suggest used standart size weights since those are cheap and easy to get (just resell em when you don’t need em anymore), but since even that might be too expensive… anything heavy will do.

I would think maintaining your size would be much easier than maintaining your strength. I agree with the body weight exercises, get as much blood pumping through your muscles as possible.

At the same time, I would be careful about the swimming and running if you are worried about losing size. Too much cardio without enough weight lifting will surely shed the pounds.

Pistol squats

Single-leg calf raises

Doorway bar chins

Push-up variations

Dips between chairs

Hand-stand push-ups

Get creative with 2 buckets full of sand.
Do you have a wheelbarrow? Fill it with heavy stuff, brace the wheel, stand on a block, grab the handles and do DL variations, squats, etc.

Be creative. As you look around your home/garage, you may be surprised at the things you come up with.

I’m sure you can draw some inspiration from this:

Go to rosstraining.com and get his book “Never Gymless.”

Ross is the man when it comes to “low-tech, high-effect” exercises. Not only can you maintain muscle size and strength, you may be able to increase both. Ross has done it. The people he has trained have done it.

You’ll need his book to figure out how to properly set up your workouts, as he shows you how to perform max-effort strength workouts, explosive strength workouts, Enhanced Interval Training, Integrated Circuit Training and other stuff.

Just be prepared to work hard approximately six days per week. Although the workouts are short, they are very difficult/challenging. But you will be amazed at how well they work.

If you want strength, conditioning and some mass (which is primarily diet), then Ross Training will help you for the next 3-5 months.

depends on your age and size?

Other than the training advice you got, don not neglect nutrition. Once you keep your protein levels up, you shouldnt suffer too much loss.

You will lose strength, but with all the bodyweight exercises, you should be able to keep that to a minimum as well.

Thanks for all the advice guys.

yea it would seem to me that maintaining muscle mass would be alot easier than strength. Most of the muscle mass lost will probably end up being sarcoplasmic (the water and stuff in your muscles) so they just wont look as full.

ill def make sure to keep the calories up though.

How many years have you been training? If you are 20 with 2 years training, and you give it up for that much time, you might lose quite a bit. But if you are a ten year plus veteran and your mass was built slowly but steadily, you will lose it very slowly.

Find bodyweight exercises that are difficult. Pull ups, elevatd push ups, one leg squats and calf raises, etc. Use backpacks put sundry heavy objects in them for resistance. Be creative and try to hit as many muscle groups as possible.

Sprint rather than jog if mass and strength are your goal.

Lots of other good ideas above.

Your motivation will be the defining factor.

Can anyone sugggest any bodyweight exercises for training the traps?

for the neck i’m currently doing neck bridges (wrestlers bridge). but for the traps i find it hard to do.

[quote]rbush28 wrote:
Can anyone sugggest any bodyweight exercises for training the traps?

for the neck i’m currently doing neck bridges (wrestlers bridge). but for the traps i find it hard to do.[/quote]

Behind the neck pullups. They can be either for the lats or traps. I do them for the traps. Get a good squeeze out of them at the top position.