Will My Fitness Suffer If I Take Time Off?

You have busted your ass in the gym for months.  You are seeing muscles that you didn’t know existed.  You are able to fit in your “pre-baby” jeans.  You are able to chase down your kids without getting out of breath. Then BAM…..your job has you sitting more in a plane seat, you throw out your back playing 9, break an ankle not listening to your skydiver instructor, or get sick with some virus that has taken over the world for the last 2 years and will never seem to go away.   Whatever the reason, you are not able to get in your daily workout.  And not just for a day to two but for weeks or more.  It sucks…bad but it is not the end of your fitness journey (or at least it should not be).

It’s why many of us hate missing even one workout and why others struggle to get back into the gym after taking time off.   It seems like our months of hard work in the gym can be lost in a manner of days when you are forced to take time off. While it is true you can expect to lose a little bit of fitness but it is not as bad as your brain and eyes are telling you. 

You will lose some of your aerobic gains, meaning those 400 meter runs might be a little slower and those burpees might seem a little more challenging, but you are definitely not starting from scratch again.  And if you’ve been consistent with your workout routine for the past several months you will regain any aerobic fitness you may have lost pretty fast.  Just moving at a brisk pace every now and then will help minimize your losses. Elevating your heart rate for 20-30 minutes every couple days, even if it is not as hard and intense as you are used to, will help make those first workouts back not seem like you are going to die (at least not a slow painful death).

As far as losing muscle mass, you might feel like you are going from looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger to Pee Wee Herman in a matter of days but you retain muscle mass for quite a while, longer than your aerobic fitness. Just like with your aerobic fitness though, the more time you have spent hitting the weights over the months leading up to your hiatus, the slower the decay.  If you are still worried about the guns turning into toothpicks, pick up and put down whatever you have around that house a few times. A little resistance training goes a long way. So basically as long as you don’t just lay in bed for 6 months and never lift a finger, soon you will still be able to sport that muscle tank top.  Suns out guns out.  

So next time you have to take a break, know that not all is lost.  You can get back to where you were at with a little hard work and may even come out stronger and fitter in the long run. 

-Matthew Kirkendall Head Coach/Owner