What Happens When You Stop Working Out?
If you think missing a gym session here and there isn’t going to hurt you, you’re right. Taking that occasional day to binge-watch Netflix instead of putting on your sneakers won’t really do anything adverse to your body. But what if you stop going completely? This Greatist article looked into this question and found some of the limits we can push our body to when it comes to ignoring exercise. And it’s not such bad news… for some people.
If you work out pretty consistently, then when it comes to losing strength, it’ll take a while. Sickness and stress may be able to knock the time down to about 2-3 weeks, but if you’re just skipping the gym you may be able to retain your strength for up to five weeks. That is overall strength, though, and research shows that specialized strength, especially fast-twitch muscles, will start to fade much quicker. And for those people who started more recently, they can hold onto their eccentric strength (lowering a weight) for up to six months, though they will see a significant decrease in their concentric strength (lifting a weight).
There is also better news for the cardio newbies. Two months of gains take about four weeks to be erased, but if you’re an old pro make sure you’re back on your routine in under 12 days or you’ll start seeing your VO2Max levels begin to dip – up to 20 percent after a month.
Of course, there are some factors that can shorten or lengthen these times, including 1) If you’re still getting some light cardio 2) You’re eating right 3) You’re doing warmups occasionally 4) You’re young. That’s right, if you’re near retiring age, your body is 50% more likely to lose strength and cardio fitness than if you were in your 20s or 30s.
But, as the article ends with, don’t let these numbers stress you. You can miss days as long as you don’t make it a habit. We all need a vacation once in a while, and if you’re feeling burned out this may be the time to recharge. The gym will still be there next week.