Let's say you've been lifting heavy ass weights, consistently eating well for a while, and you've accomplished the physique you wanted when you started doing exercise. You're pretty big, but you don't want to get any bigger, and of course not smaller.

Let's say you're eating exactly at your maintenance every day. How much strength training is required at that point to simply stimulate your current muscle enough that you don't lose it, but also don't gain anymore?

To put up an example, I'm wondering if someone who's been doing your main compound lifts with heavy weights 4x a week for a couple of years and built mass that way, can get by with working out 2x a week or maybe even simply do bodyweight exercises and not lose muscle (as long as they're eating enough, of course).

  • I don't think it's possible to be as big and strong as you want. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 20:25
  • Wow I came here to ask the same thing but avoiding muscle loss in small trips (about 1-2 weeks) and I see this question...I'm wondering if it's different enough to not be a duplicate now
    – Freedo
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 0:14

3 Answers 3


I would say it is almost impossible to exactly mantain body size. I would recommend to alternate low workout periods with higher ones (say, 1 month of aerobic and low intensity and low volume weight training and 1 month of higher weight training). In this way, you would lose a bit of muscle while reducing body fat and re-taking previous muscular condition at the next month. This is just an example and many routine periodization might be valid.

The target of altering training method is to avoid the body to get used to a routine and reducing the results obtained, what would happen if you just train less than usual but always the same way.

The point of my idea is not to keep the goals obtained but be arround them, slightly bigger and slightly smaller.

  • Interesting approach, thanks. By the way, we're almost neighbors. Next time reply in Spanish! :)
    – erictrigo
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 10:55
  • 1
    Thanks! But I hardly doubt it is allowed to use any other language than english in this forums :s
    – Felix L.
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 12:00
  • 3
    It's not. Other than the sites that are explicitly mentioned as being for foreign languages (such as Stack Overflow in Portuguese), all posts are expected to be in English. Answering in Spanish would result in downvotes and, eventually, the answer being deleted entirely. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 13:26
  • 3
    Hey, I was just kidding guys.
    – erictrigo
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 13:28
  • 2
    Funny, Stack Exchange has more language rules than the United States of America.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 17:50

If you still like working out 4 times a week, try doing same compound lifts 2 times a week, and another 2 days spend doing something completely different. This way you space out your lifts, so that it takes 2 weeks to complete the cycle instead of one, and you have 2 more days to do something completely different, new, unique.
Heavy lifts will let you "maintain" the mass, and "something new" will introduce novelty and variation. It could be anything: boxing, running, crossfit, bodyweight exercises... Who knows, maybe you will love it, and want to do that more :)

This is an estimated and simplified case just for the purpose of showing an example. After a week/two/month you will have to re adjust and tweak the program.

As Krotanix said, it is very difficult to maintain the exact physique, so you can use this as a "low" period. And introducing new stuff will make you more well rounded athlete, and your muscles more adjusted to an exposure to different stimuli.


To achieve maintenance in place of gains, you can train at the same intensity, but reduce the volume to around 30 - 40%.

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