You definitely deserve a break after an intense workout. In fact, you can take a well-deserved rest for a day or a week and regain your energy, strength and inspiration. A few days off from exercise also gives you a chance to heal from minor body aches and pain.
We often take breaks from working out because of family obligations, schedule conflicts, injury or simply because we want to. Taking time off from working out is good for you but here’s the catch: Too long of a break will bring your body several disadvantages.
You’ll definitely start losing muscle once you go on a longer than usual holiday. But how long is too long when it comes to breaks from a workout? What happens to the body if you go inactive for a while? How long of a break does it take until you start losing muscle?
Here’s a rundown of factors you should know in taking breaks from working out.
Changes Within Your Body and Mind
Taking a break from working out initially affects your mind and motivation. While taking time off is healthy, it cannot be denied that you’ll somehow get lost and feel too lazy to start again.
This holds true especially if you’re a beginner so make sure to utilize your break and get back on track as soon as possible. A two-week break from working out might cause a decline in physical fitness, most especially your cardiovascular endurance.
Note that working out provides a multitude of benefits such as a stronger heart, better blood flow and circulation, regulated blood pressure and optimal health. The absence of physical activity means you will not get the maximum benefits of physical activity.
Meanwhile, loss of muscle during breaks vary depending on factors such as age, sex and fitness level.
There are conflicting claims as to how long muscle and strength is lost during a break but it’s usually three weeks to one month on average. Athletes and highly trained people lose muscle faster than non-athletes so make sure to know which category you are in.
Studies also show that older people experience a faster decline in muscle mass and strength as compared to the younger ones. Overall, muscle stays longer than cardio fitness during a break but it doesn’t mean you have the luxury to spend the whole month away from working out.
Regaining Muscle and Fitness After a Break
You’ll likely feel motivated and stronger than usual as soon as you get back to the gym. Athletes stand a better chance in regaining what they lost during the break due to muscle memory. On the other hand, non athletes who go back to their routine build muscle faster and regain fitness better than when they first started working out.
What’s important is you prepare your body by starting out slowly and gradually increase the difficulty level of your workout as you go by in order to get back on track quickly and properly.
Taking a break from working out means letting your body recover but it also means you’re losing the benefits of physical activity. To avoid losing muscle and motivation, try to keep your number of rest days at a minimum (not over three weeks) and get back on track as soon as possible.