A few weeks ago, I received a handful of DM’s from followers that read something like this, “There isn’t any information out there on how to maintain your progress once a goal or program ends, or how to maintain your body in general. Our society is always telling me to change my body. I feel like maintenance of my current state is almost viewed as a negative thing.”
That hit me like a pound of bricks. THEY’RE NOT WRONG. We are INUNDATED from every media platform with reasons to be unhappy with our being, and (often conflicting) solutions to change them.
If you read THIS post, you know I believe there is a RIGHT and WRONG time to diet and if it’s NOT the right time for you to enter a dieting phase that’s completely okay because if you’re not dieting, you’re not necessarily gaining.
Read that again.
Just because you’re not dieting doesn’t mean you’re gaining weight.
Maintenance is such a beautiful thing, and while most of us may look like a deer in headlights when even confronted with the thought, IT’S SIMPLE AS FAHK.
Maintenance requires TWO things:
- A maintenance-level caloric balance
- A minimalist, yet progressive approach to your workouts
Maintenance-Level Caloric Balance
As you may have read in THIS post, you know how to calculate your baseline caloric balance. If you need a refresher peep the formula below.
Current bodyweight * 14-16 (calories per pound)
Typically, this balance is a few hundred calories above your deficit, EASY to reach, and you guessed it, maintain. You should feel comfortable, satisfied, and able to satisfy moderate cravings and indulgences. If you’ve been cutting or dieting for a while, getting back to a baseline level should feel so good.
This balance will be ABOVE your deficit. If you’ve reached your goal weight, you CAN maintain the ceiling of your deficit, but be realistic about that number. You CANNOT live your entire life in said deficit. Sooner or later, your body will adapt, and you will not lose weight. There are ebbs and flows to life, and your diet is no different. You must FLUCTUATE to make continual progress…and memories for that matter. If you’re not fluctuating, you’re not LIVING.
If you are WEARY of leaving your deficit, do it SLOWLY. Increase your calories by 50-100 per week until you reach your baseline. By doing so, you WILL experience minimal gain, but it will come with a lot more freedom as far as your eating is concerned. When I say minimal, I’m talking 5-7 pounds – IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL SO CALM DOWN.
Take comfort knowing that while your body weight may increase a LITTLE, you’ll feel A LOT OF proverbial weight lifted off your shoulders because you won’t be obsessing over your meals and fitness routine. A slight increase in scale weight pales in comparison to feeling HAPPIER.
Adherence will be much more comfortable – trust me.
The Minimalist or Maintenance Approach to the Gym
Once you’ve reached an aesthetic goal, completed a program, or hit another variable your – REJOICE! Celebrate this win, and pat yourself on the back. Take a load off (literally) because your maintenance program will NOT be as demanding as the one you executed to get you wherever you are.
Let me clarify, you won’t have to work as hard, but you’ll still have to fahkin’ work.
Industry standards claim that training a muscle ONCE per week will MAINTAIN its current state. Your volume and frequency may not be as intense, but you still should prioritize your form and progressive overload.
- Train two-three times per week
- Full body or more substantial body part splits
- More recovery between sets
Your workouts don’t have to be complicated or crazy. Focus on fundamental movement patterns (push/pull), and continue to progress in weight across major lifts and compound movements. The below are EXAMPLES and not an exhaustive list.
- Bench Press
- Pull-Ups (Assisted or otherwise)
- Overhead Press
After you execute a maintenance protocol, you can’t just jump right back into where you were before. I mean, you can, but it would be in your best interest not to. You’ve got to de-load, rebuild, and progress, so don’t get antsy and do something wild, okey.
Maintenance is not pardoned from consistent self-evaluation. Caloric formulas are NOT perfect. If you’re gaining weight, you’re NOT maintaining and you either need to evaluate your balance OR confirm (double, triple, quadruple check) your adherence.
Regardless of how others or social media may make you feel it is OKAY to be OKAY with your body! Your goals change, and your life should NOT revolve around fat loss because there is SO much more to life. You can maintain and still progress, you know? You’ll find that when you are MAINTAINING your body, you’ll have some more time on your hands. Watch a movie. Learn something new. Explore new hobbies. Read a book. Call your mom. The list goes on and on. GO FORTH AND ENJOY.