That’s the thing about hitting the gym: You get access to some amazing weight-lifting exercises that make for excellent resistance-training workouts and help you build muscle.
The result? Well, with healthier muscle mass comes a toned body and a faster metabolism that helps you burn fat easily and quickly. “Research suggests that loss of muscle mass occurs between two and three weeks after inactivity begins. Of course, the loss of muscle mass might be different for everyone,” points out Dr Kruti Khemani, physiotherapist and founder, Continuum Sports Physiotherapy and Rehab Centre, Mumbai.
She adds that anxiety, overeating, and lethargy further contribute to the problem and suggests the following exercises that can be done at home to prevent any muscle loss during the lockdown:
1. Core and back exercise
Get on all fours (hands and knees), keep your lower back flat. Basically, it should not be too arched or too hunched. Keeping this stance intact, lift your right arm and the left leg off the floor together. Hold this for five seconds while breathing normally. Now finish two sets of 10 repetitions with each side.
Benefits: This exercise helps keep your lower back strong and prevents lower back injury as well.
2. Knee strengthening exercise
Sit on a chair with back support. Roll up a towel, keep it between your knees, and squeeze the same. While squeezing, lift one leg and extend it in front to straighten the knee. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds and relax. Repeat this with the other leg as well till you finish two sets of it.
To progress, tie ankle weights of 1 to 2 kg on each leg and if you don’t have access to ankle weights, fill grains in a sock and tie it around the ankles.
Benefits: This keeps the most important knee muscle, quadriceps muscles strong and prevents knee pain.
3. Neck and shoulders exercise
Lie on your stomach, rest your forehead on a pillow/ towel, keep your arms by your sides resting on the floor. Now, pull your shoulder blades up and back towards your tailbone and hold. Next, lift your arms off the floor and hold this position for 10 seconds while breathing normally.
To progress, you can hold weights of half a kilo in each hand. Repeat this 10 times and finish two sets.
Benefits: It keeps the neck and shoulders strong and pain-free.
To do this multi-muscle exercise, grip a wall with your hands at shoulder level. Keep your feet hip-width apart and lift your heels to stand on your toes. Now, lean forward as if trying to touch your nose to the wall and get back again in the starting position.
Repeat this 10-12 times while breathing in and out at each repetition. To progress, perform this on the floor, first with knees touching the ground and then with just your toes touching the ground as you perform this in the plank position.
Benefits: This helps the shoulders, core, and leg muscles to remain strong and toned.
5. Squats: Start by standing and holding onto a rod or a window grill with your hands near your chest. Keep your lower back flat and core tight and sucked in. Now, squat down till your knees are bent at a 90-degree. Push your bottom backwards and then squat down to ensure your knees do not cross your toes. Repeat this slowly 10 to 12 times and complete two sets.
Benefits: This keeps the core and the knees strong and prevents muscle loss from the lower body.
6. Abdominal exercises
Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands behind your neck. Suck your belly in and lift your upper body towards the ceiling, keeping a fist-width distance between your chin and chest. Breathe out as you come up and breathe in as you lower down your body back to the mat. Repeat this 10 to 15 times continuously and finish two sets.
Benefits: This keeps the abdominals and the core strong and tight.