- To reduce muscle mass, do the opposite of what you would do when growing your muscles.
- Losing muscle mass is not recommended, so it’s crucial to do it safely if you really want to do it.
- Before starting with any program that will help you lose muscle mass, it’s essential to consult a doctor to ensure that you stay within the safe limits.
Most exercise programs aim for building muscle, but some people may also be interested in losing muscle mass if they:
- feel that their muscles are making them look bulky
- think their bodies are not aesthetically proportional
- want to lose weight but maintain strength
- want to avoid saggy muscles as they age
Losing muscle mass is not a healthy goal for most people. However, if you wish to do so for the reasons mentioned above, it’s best to consult with a doctor to ensure you stay within the limits appropriate for your condition.
Understanding muscle growth
To successfully lose muscle mass, it’s crucial to understand the process of muscle growth or hypertrophy.
Muscle growth is usually achieved with a consistent weightlifting program and a high-calorie and high-protein diet.
Muscle fibers are damaged during intensive anaerobic weightlifting workouts, but they repair themselves during rest periods. Your muscle grows when the rate of repair is faster than the damage. Your body needs fuel from the food you eat to do all this.
How to lose muscle mass
To get rid of some of your muscle mass, consider these adjustments:
Reduce your caloric intake and limit eating foods high in protein and carbohydrates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following foods to ensure a healthy diet:
- vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and dairy products that are fat-free or low-fat
- lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and beans
- foods low in added sugars, salt, cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats
Use lighter weights, reduce weight training frequency, and do more cardio workouts like running, jogging, swimming, or biking.
If you want to lose your arm and leg muscle mass, stop lifting a few reps before failure, decrease the number of reps, and rest for 2-3 minutes to get full recovery between sets.
Another way to lose muscle mass
You will also lose muscle mass if you stop working out and consume fewer calories than you burn. However, health experts DO NOT RECOMMEND this, as you will also lose your strength and cardio fitness.
According to a 2013 study, it takes about three weeks for athletes to lose muscle strength if they stop working out.
Another study in 2018 found that athletes who majorly cut back on their cardiovascular exercise schedule experienced a significant drop in their cardio fitness after four weeks.