What if you want to take some time off from the gym? How long can you take a break before you lose muscle mass, strength, and endurance? More importantly, how long can you take that break without losing your gains? If you want to know the answers to these questions, this guide on how much muscle mass, strength, and endurance you can lose from taking a break from the gym will tell you everything you need to know about detraining as well as what factors affect your ability to maintain your training performance when you’re not hitting the gym every day.
When you get injured
From time to time, injuries are unavoidable. If you find yourself sidelined by an injury, it’s a good idea to seek out some physical therapy the sooner you begin rehabbing your injured area(s), the better. Just remember that if you have surgery (and sometimes even if you don’t), physical therapy is only part of your recovery process; there’s still hard work to be done.
Research has shown that strength levels can drop significantly when people stop working out for more than five weeks at a time. This holds true whether or not you’re under medical supervision; in fact, those who didn’t go to therapy experienced greater drops in strength levels than those who did receive treatment.
When you’re sick
It’s true you can’t out-train a bad diet. And if you neglect your body during times of sickness, it may be more difficult to get back into exercise mode. However, even when you’re down with illness—or injury you can still maintain some fitness capacity by limiting high-intensity workouts (exercises that cause muscle failure within 8–12 repetitions) and opting for less intense forms of exercise like yoga or light cardio instead.
Just be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any new workout routine while sick. Rest is also important: Not only will it make getting back into shape easier, but by taking care of yourself now you’ll be able to get back to fitness sooner than if you had continued pushing yourself in poor health.
When you travel
When you have an upcoming trip, consider ways to make exercise part of your travels. If you’re taking a flight, bring workout clothes along in your carry-on luggage so that you can squeeze in some time in a hotel gym. If you’re visiting friends or family members, plan ahead and ask if they have space for you to work out while you’re there or clear some space in their garage or basement. Another option is to invite people over for a low-key workout session on your trip (and then actually show up).
When you take time off for a holiday
In general, you can lose up to 2% of your Musclesblaze mass per week without strength training. (Strength training can help minimize these losses.) So if you’re not lifting weights for an extended period of time and also not following a fitness routine on your own you’ll begin to lose strength and endurance right away.
Within three weeks of completely unstructured time off (such as over holidays), most people will have lost around 5%-10% of their aerobic capacity. After four weeks away from weightlifting or cardio exercise, you’ll likely have lost 5%-15% of your muscular strength; after five to six weeks off, it’s more like 10%-20%. For reference: The average person loses 5%-10% muscle in one year with no resistance training.
When you’re in your off-season
If you’re using your off-season to take time off from training, don’t freak out—it’s not all bad. In fact, it can be good. Take a break! Don’t worry about losing muscles blaze if you’re just taking three weeks off. It takes longer than that for muscles to start shedding, says Kyle Kriegel, master instructor at Peak Performance in New York City. And that’s just for starters: If you need more time away, your body will be fine as long as you ease into things again.