Here’s the deal: Any time you experience rapid weight loss—whether that’s due to diet change, GLP-1 medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Ryblesus, and Mounjaro, or another condition—fat isn’t the only thing coming off. Usually, we lose all parts of our body composition, including muscle mass, in equal ratio. And sometimes, as has been observed with some patients on GLP-1 medications, we lose more lean muscle than fat.
Why does that deserve our attention? Quickly losing muscle mass can lead to a tsunami of health issues, including a heightened risk of chronic disease, a slowed metabolism, reduced bone density (which can lead to osteoporosis, a bone disease), and more. Sarcopenia, a serious condition where you lose muscle mass, function, and strength, is also on the table.
Tracking these side effects is especially important for those on GLP-1 medications because a suppressed appetite usually means you’re eating less protein—another sure way to lose muscle mass quickly. Plus, though Ozempic and other GLP1-s were approved by the FDA in combination with exercise, not everyone follows doctor’s orders. (We explain exactly what happens to your body on GLP-1s—and how to prevent it—here.)
The good news? A solid strength training program coupled with a high-protein diet can drastically offset muscle mass loss. “Especially if you’re lifting weights, strength training leads to the preservation or creation of more lean muscle tissue,” explains obé’s Senior Manager of Programming and Strength + Power fitness instructor, Melody D. “That ensures the body composition—which is often more important than the number on the scale—stays optimal. It also protects your body for longevity.”
If you’ve never tried strength training before, it can be hard to know where to start—but luckily, obé has several beginner-friendly (and more advanced) workout programs to cut the guesswork. Here, Melody walks us through 4 options designed to safeguard and build lean muscle and strength, making them excellent options for those taking a GLP-1 medication (but always consult with your doctor first).
Why follow a workout program while taking a GLP-1?
“We can either build up strength—or we can do what’s called hypertrophy, which is the developing of muscle mass,” says Melody. “Both are important, but hypertrophy is especially so if you’re losing weight quickly on a GLP-1 medication.” P.S. Don’t be afraid of the word “mass,” it does not equal “bulky.” Lean muscle not only keeps bones healthy and physiological processes running smoothly, but it also makes you look fit and toned.
The best way to increase hypertrophy? Following a progressive overload training plan, which puts resistance on the body in a beneficial way. “Unfortunately, hopping from workout to workout or doing things à la carte won’t create the same hypertrophy effect,” explains Melody. “You need to teach your muscles specific movement patterns and gradually increase the demand and stressors on them over time. That’s what will facilitate change and real results.”
Before we dive in, a note on cardio: Everyone should be doing cardio—but as a means of keeping the cardiovascular system healthy. “Cardio should not be treated as a means of building muscle, fat loss, weight loss, or body composition change,” emphasizes Melody. Get your steps in, take a Dance Cardio class, or go for a bike ride, but don’t expect it to build back your vital muscle mass like the programs below.
1. Training Essentials
obé’s most beginner-friendly strength-training program, Training Essentials will guide you through an introduction to the concept of progressive training (with lots of benefits). This 4-week program is home-equipment friendly (some hand weights are all you need) and sprinkles in some cardio classes to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Each week, Days 1 and 2 will focus on full-body strength, Day 3 will guide you through cardio intervals, Day 5 will focus on strengthening the core, and Day 6 tops it off with cardio endurance sets.
Level: Beginner. Perfect for anyone newer to fitness—or someone who hasn’t followed a workout program before. This program helps you build a consistent routine and get into the habit of daily exercise.
Commitment: 5 days a week for 4 weeks. Each class is 30 minutes.
Benefits: You’ll feel improvements in your strength, mobility, muscular endurance, and aerobic capacity. Translation: You’ll be able to move more freely, and put in more work before you start to feel tired. As a bonus, you’ll walk away with a newfound confidence that will help you tackle any strength- or cardio-based class on obé.
Why it works: You’ll be building on similar movement patterns each week and working on progressive overload with exercises that are simple but super effective. Remember, progressive overload is what encourages lean muscle growth, plus noticeable gains in strength and endurance. If you’re on a GLP-1, this will offset some of the muscle mass loss while benefiting your cardiovascular health.
2. Simply Strong
Designed for any fitness level, Simply Strong is our longest strength training program (a full 6 weeks!). The extra time allows you to dive deeper into progressive overload training without a grueling weekly commitment (just three 30-minute classes per week). You also have the freedom to supplement with any cardio you enjoy.
“If you’re focused on improving muscle mass and strength, this is all you’d need to check the boxes,” explains Melody. In other words, your fitness routine doesn’t have to be much more complicated or elaborate than this.
Level: Open. Ideal for someone newer to fitness, someone who wants to get into strength training, or someone who has a solid fitness foundation but wants to take it to the next level.
Commitment: 3 days a week for six weeks. Each class is 30 minutes long.
Benefits: “Simply Strong will seriously enhance your form and quality of movement,” Melody explains. “You’re going to squat deeper, lunge better, and feel more confident with each exercise as you progress.”
Why it works: For the first three weeks, you’ll work on building your foundation, learning a set of classic functional movement exercises. Once phase two kicks off, you’ll progress to new, more advanced moves, plus focus on revving up power and lifting heavier. It’s classical resistance training, broken down step by step.
3. Gym Strong
Gym Strong is the training program for you if you’re ready to get strong AF. For four weeks, you’ll learn how to navigate the gym floor (don’t worry, it’s also home-gym friendly with modifications) and focus on strength and power conditioning which helps build muscle mass.
This program is hyperfocused on functional hypertrophy training, which allows you to go heavier and hit a higher strength threshold because you’ll never be doing a crazy high amount of reps. On the days in between, feel free to supplement with your favorite obé Cardio, Stretch, or Yoga classes.
The best part? Graduate to Gym Strong 2 once you’re finished!
Level: Open. Because this introduces new pieces of equipment (kettlebells, benches, and weight plates), think of it more as an intermediate option, especially if you’ve only worked with limited equipment in the past.
Commitment: 3 days a week for 4 weeks. Each class is 60 minutes.
Benefits: Gym Strong will make you stronger, improve your work capacity, and help you move better. If you want to run faster, lift heavier, climb a mountain, or be strong for your new baby, this training program will give you a roadmap for success. Expect more muscular definition, improved posture (thanks to lots of upper back strength love), better mobility, a metabolic boost (which can be beneficial if you’re taking a GLP-1 medication), and better cardiovascular health.
Why it works: Week by week, the obé pros will encourage you to go harder—to lift heavier, complete more reps, or push for extended periods, all of which will prepare your body to meet new challenges. This science-backed method will add stress to the musculoskeletal system in a beneficial way (not all stress is bad!) so that your body can become stronger as it adapts.
Designed to build lean muscle, improve fitness, and help you lose weight in a healthy weight, BodyComp is the ultimate strength training choice. Over 4 weeks (and up to 12 if you decide to do all 4 volumes!), you’ll change your body composition but increase strength and hypertrophy development at the same time.
While it features more advanced skill sets and a more demanding time commitment, you can still tackle it if you’re newer to fitness.
Some more details? This program is designed to progressively overload your muscles through accumulated volume. As the weeks go on, you’ll increase reps and sets for each exercise. You’ll also teach your body how to create tension by moving slowly through your full range of motion. That all matters for rebuilding healthy muscles and bones!
Level: Open, but more friendly for the intermediate to advanced. If you have a solid fitness foundation or are ready to commit more time to training, go for it!
Commitment: 5 days a week for 4 weeks. Each class is 45-60 minutes.
Benefits: You’ll see increased muscle definition, more localized strength, better endurance to push through harder workouts, and a sense of accomplishment for sticking with a more robust training plan! You can also expect to build lean muscle mass, boost your metabolism, and experience healthy weight loss.
Why it works: By splitting the strength workouts into the upper and lower body, you’ll train every part of your body in a very targeted, specific manner. The rep schemes encourage both maximal strength and lighter-weight, higher-rep hypertrophy. Coupled with power conditioning, that gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Whatever option you chose, don’t forget to fuel yourself and maintain your protein intake, especially if you’re taking a GLP-1 medication. Sustaining your nutrition with regular, balanced meals will help your body respond best to training—and lead to better, sustainable results. For 3 can’t-miss tips to keep your nutrition on point while strength training, read this. And for a 101 on everything related to protein, this is your guide.
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