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Best ways to maintain muscle mass?

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 15:54:09 GMT

Hello! So as I prepare my 2017 run season, I need to stop lifting heavy so much, but I want to maintain muscle mass and avoid becoming a "skinny runner" again. In addition to eating enough calories (something I struggle with), how else should I maintain muscle mass while putting in some decent miles each week? Aminos? Creatine? EXTRA short shorts? Etc? I don't plan on cutting out strength training, as I'll still do TRX and bodyweight and functional movement, but I plan on cutting out the super heavy deadlift days for at least a few months while I focus on becoming a sub-3 marathoner.

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:15:54 GMT

This is a good question! I'm interested to the answer as well.

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:09:06 GMT

Extra short shorts are a key to maintaining run fitness according to every scientific study I've seen. One of the biggest recommendations I can make, as a personal trainer, is to include maximum strength training (and eventually some power training closer to race days) a few times per week, if you want to avoid "skinny runner" syndrome AND are in a "functional fitness place" to do max strength training. This would involve low-repetition (1-6 reps at ~90% of one-rep maximums with complete rest between a given exercise's set, roughly 90 seconds, and between sets, up to 3 minutes) total-body exercises, that key in major muscle groups (like the lower trunk/core for runners) and build their strength - with the ultimate goal being consistent force production over time, which we need as runners when we're in it for the long haul, i.e. 26.2, as opposed to their size - size being the goal of hypertrophy, or muscle breakdown/rebuild early in a season. Definitely want to periodize it into the schedule so your not doing 300 lb. deadlifts the day before an A-race, haha, but addding s trength versus size can be key in maintaining the muscle you've put hard work into and achieving peak performance. A normal diet of LPC'ers can do a pretty good job in maintaining these strength gains, revisiting strength after major races. BCAAs can definitely help with amino availability, especially when volume ramps up. An n= 1 personal note, I did max strength training leading all the way up to Oceanside 70.3 last year and the run was a PR in any half marathon I've done yet, even isolated ones. These are just my opinions through experience though, along with some of the research I've may differ from others! Would be great to hear how some others go about it or approach strength maintenance. IMHO - Bottom line, just channel your inner "new and improved" Ryan Hall, its science.

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 19:03:27 GMT

Thanks for this detailed reply. I struggle with a duality: on the one hand, I want to get the minimum effective dose (i.e. SQUAT HEAVY once a week and put it to bed) but on the other hand, I just love moving, and like doing stuff every day. Not to mention, right now my main focus (aside from healing this weird fibula injury) is building a great run base towards a sub-3 marathon. So I think for me the trick will be in finding those strength gains while also having a separate list of "safe" exercises that I can do every few days or daily to just work on my overall movement nutrition diet.

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:27:13 GMT

Very informative. How does one determine if they are at a "functional fitness place"? Also, how far out from an A race would you start to include some of these maximum strength days?

Tawnee Gibson
Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:51:52 GMT

Great reply from Docotty and totally agree with his advice! Thanks for chiming in! Greg, since we know that heavy lifting possibly flared your latest injury, I'd potentially go another direction with you - but that's just you. In general Docotty is correct. Erin - check out my functional fitness assessment (link below) that looks at how you move - tests your mobility, stability and basic coordination. If you "pass" and also understand or have had some coaching in the movements Docotty recommends, then you are safe, so to speak , to be lifting heavy at the loads advised here. The point is, don't lift heavy if you're body isn't ready to move that way - more harm than good might be done.