We all know the feeling. You have an extremely lazy week and got none of your planned workouts in. When you skip one session, it becomes so much more tempting to just stretch it for the entire week. Like magic: the gym is nothing more than a small place you used to visit once upon a time. But how long does it actually take before you lose your conditioning?
We all have off-weeks. But sometimes these off-weeks can easily turn into an off-month. When that happens, it's often difficult to pick up and get into that rhythm again once you've lost it. Especially when you get the feeling that maybe you've lost some of the progress you made. But is that thought really realistic? I decided to go and find out how long it actually takes before you start losing your progress.
Taking a break
When you work out a lot for a long time, it may happen that your body begins to protest. It's a good idea then to take a few days off each week to rest. Your body needs this rest, even when you're trying to get that dream-body. That's why you need to make sure that you take rest days each week. You can decide to completely relax, but you can also take a more active approach. This is called active recovery. This can include doing a few rounds in the pool or taking a long walk.
The amount of progress you lose depends on the length of your break and the state of your body at exactly that moment.
The regular sporter
When you've been working out multiple times a week for over a year, your body isn't going to respond that intensely to you taking a break. Because your muscles have already built a memory at that point, your muscle memory stays relatively stable and you won't lose your condition so quickly.
You can lose your progress in two different ways. This can occur in the loss of muscle and also your condition.
Loss of strength
Most people use their muscle strength after a break of 2.5 to 3 weeks of being inactive, according to Molly Galbraith, a certified trainer in strength and training and the co-founder of Girls Gone Strong. It also depends on the reasons why you're taking a break as well.
She says that when you're sick, you can lose the strength after 2 to 3 weeks. This is because you're really incapable of doing any sort of activity, and your body is busy trying to recover. If you're not sick, and then able to do light activities, you're maybe only going to significantly lose muscle strength after about 5 weeks. Your body tries as long as possible to hold on to the muscle strength it has. Be warned though: movements or actions that are super specific for certain sports can deteriorate quicker.
Loss in condition
And now what about all the cardio-lovers who need to know all about the loss of their condition? Unfortunately, I can say that it goes a bit quicker when you've been inactive. A researcher that was curious about this reported that after a cycler was inactive for a month, they actually ended up losing 20% of their maximum oxygen consumption. The good news is that it's easier to build your condition back up than it is to rebuild strength. So, don't give up and go ahead for that run!
For the newbies
Haven't been exercising for so long as yet? Try not to make your breaks too long.Your body still needs to get used to the new levels of physical activity, and switching up your regime too regularly isn't the best thing to do. Losing your progress also goes a bit faster for beginners. Consistency is so very important when you're trying to get into a new habit (for your body too, not only the mental ones!).
So if you choose to take a break, then choose to do some light cardio. Go for a swim or walk more regularly; that way you'll keep your condition up. And if you get an injury to your arm, then train your legs more during that period. If you take yourself completely out of the fitness game, it's so difficult to get back on track. Hopefully these tips help you out with keeping motivated!
Don't be disappointed in yourself if you take a break. The gym will still be there when you find your motivation and strength to visit it again. But for now, enjoy your rest and make sure that you return 10x stronger and better!