How Long Can You Stop Working Out?

How Long Can You Stop Working Out?


It happens to all of us. Injury, sickness, or lack of motivation, there
will come a time where we stop working out. This ‘detraining’ phase can be a rough
patch considering that you might lose all of your hard-earned results. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen immediately
and can be avoided with the right approach. So, how long exactly can you go without exercise? If first depends on the fitness type. Cardiovascular fitness tends to drop off first,
with parameters, such as stroke volume, work capacity, and cardio output, all appreciably
dipping just after 10-12 days of inactivity. VO2max, one of the core measurements of cardiovascular
fitness, can drop by as much as 20% in 2 weeks. Beginners are much more likely to lose everything,
where one study found that after 8 weeks of detraining, their VO2max dropped all the way
back to baseline. Athletes aren’t completely off the hook. Performance can drop by as much as 25% after
3 weeks, an extremely devastating amount for any top competitor. As for strength, it generally takes 3 weeks
of inactivity before any significant drops take place. Athletes generally can get away with 4 weeks
unless their sport requires high levels of speed, power, and coordination, which dissipates
as early as 2 weeks. Muscle mass falls within the same 2 to 3-week
window. Some believe early losses aren’t actually
from muscle, but instead water and glycogen. In fact, glycogen levels do drop by as much
as 50% in two weeks. And since glycogen retains water, water in
the muscle will drop as well. One study that used more extensive measurement
tools found that 3 weeks of detraining resulted in 0.7 kilograms of lost lean mass, all of
which was water. Visually, you might look smaller, but it’s
probably just less water and glycogen in your muscles, which can easily be reversed. As for the amount of time to lose actual muscle,
it’s hard to say. To play it safe, we can still go by the 2
to 3-week estimate. Age is also a factor, where older individuals
can lose muscle mass quicker but not strength or endurance. Immobilizing injuries will also accelerate
atrophy. And worse yet, if you’re completely bedridden
from illness, studies show it only takes 1 week before everything goes bad, even insulin
sensitivity. As far as why this all happens, we don’t
truly know. The best guess it that the body only intends
to keep as much muscle as necessary since maintaining muscle is energy-costly. In short, you either use it or lose it. So that’s 1 to 2 weeks for cardio, and 2
to 3 weeks for strength and muscle. For longer durations, you do have a couple
of options. The first is exercising less. You can retain fitness by doing as little
as a third of what you did before. Instead of an hour workout, do 20 minutes. Instead of 3 to 5 days, do 1 or 2. Intensity should stay the same though, so
keep lifting the same weight or running the same speed. You can also try different workouts, such
as swimming instead of running. For limb injuries, working out only the good
side magically can benefit the injured side thanks to crossover neural adaptations. If none of these options work for you, then
don’t freak out just yet. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to regain
lost muscle and strength thanks to muscle memory. One part of muscle memory is skill retention. Just as you will always know how to ride a
bike, you will still know how to do a certain workout efficiently. The other part is increased myonuclei within
the muscle from your initial training. Once you develop additional myonuclei, which
is important for growth and strength, they remain even after long breaks of inactivity. When you retrain, you skip the need to produce
myonuclei, fast-tracking growth and strength. And there you have it. Breaks happen. And quite honestly, extra rest can be a good
thing, especially if you’ve been training for a long time. Hopefully the recovery will motivate you once
more to jump back on the gain train! And yes! We now have shirts, sweaters, tanktops, and
more! All thanks to you guys, I finally pulled the
trigger. And it’s only fitting that the first custom
shirt made by yours truly is all about research and how… it depends. Since this is the first release ever, we have
a special first edition with a snazzy logo that’s only available for 72 hours. So if you want to snag one to symbolize your
awesomeness, please check out PictureFit’s merch store in the link below. And as always, thank you for watching!

2 Replies to “How Long Can You Stop Working Out?”

  1. Woohoo! T-Shirts! I couldn't have done it without you guys. I really enjoyed designing this one and I hope that you guys can enjoy it as well. Please come check it out if you can!
    Store: http://www.teespring.com/stores/picturefit

  2. Im worried

    Lol i been very sore lately so todsy i had a day off then thinking I might lose fitness lol guess not

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