Fit in my 40s: after lockdown, I’m a weakling. Are my muscles lost for ever | Zoe Williams

All I ask is to be able to open some new jam without my arms acting as if they are climbing a rock face

I did everything in lockdown right, within reason. Bit of Couch to 5k, loads of Zoom workouts – well, you know what I did, you were there. Why, then, do I emerge from this hibernation having lost all my muscle mass? Was I really getting that much toning activity just from the ancient practice of being out and about? Why do I look so opposite-of-buff? Why am I constantly trying to find a new cunning ruse to get my Mr to put the Magimix away for me, because it’s too heavy?

I went to Arj Thiruchelvam (sports lecturer, elite athlete coach, with some regular people on his books) with exactly the questions anyone else in my position will be asking. First, is this just the march of time? No. He’s absolutely trenchant on this: “There are plenty of 40-year-olds who are substantially fitter and stronger than they were in their 20s.” Muscle isn’t like hair. It’s mine to regain.

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