What happens when you suddenly go off body building

There is a trend among men of all ages wanting bigger bodies, bulking up, a six pack, huge biceps among other goals. For many this is a short term goal. they want it within a stipulated time frame and are willing to work hard for it with full commitment to exercise, change in diet and if needed the use of supplements and steroids. Commendably, many are able to reach their goals! But I often get asked what happens afterwards.

You met your goal but to keep the body, you need to continue with the commitment to exercise and diet modification and not many are willing to stay the course. And there are some who go to the other extreme where bigger and bigger is not enough so they are striving for more always.

So what happens to the physiology, to the chemical changes inside, and your psychology?

Loss of Fitness. Your body adapts to the stress of exercise to become bigger, stronger and fitter. Simple law applies when it comes to your body ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’. Exercise is a function of the body like breathing, eating, sleeping et cetera. It takes about ten days for your adaptions to reverse and become more tangible as time goes by. So you are looking at decrease in hypertrophy (size) and strength. Your endurance and stamina in both muscular and cardiovascular capacity will suffer too.

Decreased metabolism

As most of you know your metabolic rate has direct connection with exercise and muscle mass. Absence or lack of exercise decreases your metabolism. The negative symptoms are many like energy depletion, sense of sluggishness and fatigue, loss of appetite, indigestion, weight gain etc. When you decrease the intensity of your workout to negligible or none, your metabolism will suffer.

Increased stress

Exercise is a great stress buster. Whether it’s physical or mental stress that you are going through, the increase in circulation when exercising releases blockages and gives you a sense of freshness and vigour. When body building, you are working with a sense of purpose towards a specific goal, when this is taken away you are likely to be more stressed easily. You will also be deprived of hormones serotonin, endorphin, HGH and testosterone which are released when you exercise.

Loss of self-confidence

Your confidence shows when you are fitter and stronger. People who exercise, more specifically those who are working towards a body shape, walk taller, are more assured and carry themselves better generally. You are also more likely to meet physical challenges better. When your body building goes into reverse gear, others are more likely to comment about your body, your clothes will fit differently, your skin could sag, you could look older and often this can be disempowering.

Fat gain

Studies have shown that in most cases when participants give up exercise completely, they gain fat. They lose proportion and symmetry and can look fat and thin all at once. This happens because people tend to eat the same amount of calories minus the exercise, and you lose muscle mass.

Bodybuilding is one form of exercise. People can reap huge benefits from it provided you understand the intricacies of bodybuilding and engage with proper information and guidance. It’s not just related to improving body image but emphasizes on strength aspect of fitness which is extremely important to keep you healthy. There are different phases — beginner, intermediate and advanced — be prepared to work through the levels rather than look for shortcuts which could be detrimental to your well-being.

The author is a certified professional fitness instructor, founder and master trainer at Rage Fitness and a fitness columnist who specialises in mixed martial arts