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  • Writer's pictureAngelo Corbelli

Why astronauts need a bodybuilding routine in space

Space exploration truly has been and always will be a marvel of human achievement, but it comes with unique challenges, particularly for the human body. In the microgravity environment of space, astronauts face significant muscle loss, a concern not just for their health but also for mission safety and efficiency.

Astronaut in Space Station doing triceps pulldowns

Recent studies have revealed that astronauts can lose up to 20% of their muscle mass on spaceflights as short as five to 11 days. This muscle atrophy primarily affects antigravity muscles like the calf muscles, quadriceps, and the muscles of the back and neck. The danger is real, especially when considering the need for physical strength during emergency procedures upon re-entering Earth's gravity. Canadian Space Agency Article

To counteract this, astronauts on the ISS currently engage in about two and a half hours of exercise daily. However, this routine is more about maintenance than targeted muscle building.

This is where a bodybuilding approach could be beneficial.

Incorporating a bodybuilding routine into the training regimen of astronauts, is in my opinion, a crucial strategy to counter the effects of prolongated exposure to microgravity in space. Microgravity significantly impacts various muscle groups in the body which as stated above, leads to muscle atrophy and reduced strength. By adopting a targeted bodybuilding approach, astronauts can address these specific concerns and ensure they remain in peak physical condition.

Astronauts often engage in physical activities such as spacewalks, operating spacecraft, and conducting experiments that require physical strength and endurance. Maintaining and even increasing muscle mass and strength becomes a great way of enabling them to perform these tasks effectively while minimizing the risks of injuries in the challenging environment of space.

And, by focusing on specific muscle groups through a bodybuilding routine, astronauts can not only prevent muscle loss but also enhance their overall physical capabilities, which will not only contributes to their physical well-being but also improves their ability to adapt to the demanding demands of space missions, only leading them to successful missions and better overall health.


Protein is an essential component for muscle repair and growth, ensuring astronauts remain in peak physical condition while in orbit. But why is a high-protein diet so crucial for astronauts ?Well to simply counteract microgravity's effects, astronauts require an ample supply of protein to support muscle recovery and growth.

Moreover, the logistics of food storage and consumption in space pose unique challenges. Space restrictions limit the variety of foods that can be taken on missions, making it a practical choice to include protein powder in their diet. Protein powder is compact, lightweight, and doesn't take up much space, making it an ideal option for astronauts. Additionally, the International Space Station (ISS) has a sophisticated water recycling system, allowing astronauts to reuse water efficiently, minimizing waste and ensuring that hydration needs are met.

"We even recycle our urine." – Chris Hadfield

Bodybuilding on Mars

Looking ahead, these practices are not just vital for current missions but are crucial for the future of space exploration, particularly for missions to Mars and beyond. The gravity on Mars is about 38% that of Earth's, meaning that the muscle atrophy issue will still be a significant challenge for astronauts during extended stays on the Red Planet. Therefore, the incorporation of bodybuilding routines and high-protein diets will remain essential strategies to ensure the health and physical capabilities of astronauts during interplanetary missions.

Furthermore, the use of protein powder and efficient resource management exemplified on the International Space Station will become even more critical as we venture deeper into space. As missions become longer and resources scarcer, the ability to pack compact, nutrient-dense foods like protein powder and efficiently recycle vital resources like water will be instrumental in sustaining human presence and performance in the cosmos. These practices represent not only the present but also the future of human space exploration, making the dream of exploring Mars and beyond a tangible reality.

Gym on Mars

An example of what a future gym on Mars could possibly look like

For the future

Educating future engineers and astronauts on the importance of a bodybuilding routine and a high-protein diet is essential. This approach is not just about maintaining physical health; it's about ensuring the success and safety of missions, making the difference between good and great space explorers.

As we continue to push the boundaries of space exploration, it is vital to prioritize the health and physical preparedness of those who venture into the unknown. A bodybuilding routine, tailored to the unique conditions of space, could be a crucial step in ensuring the success and safety of future missions.

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Welcome to the blog, Angelo Corbelli is a Mechanical Engineering student at FIU with a passion for the aerospace industry as well as health and fitness.

Feel free to check out the rest of my website, where you can find an extensive collection of the projects I've had the opportunity to work on. You'll also discover a variety of images that provide visual insights into these projects.


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