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!

100 thoughts on “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!
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  2. I missed 4 days from sickness and it about killed me… I felt like I was deflating lol. I know it was in my head, but shit man if I go 24 hours without at good lift or at least a run I’m fucked yo in my head.

  3. Bro, i get injuries all the time… But this shot talls about months soooo…. Exept the muscle loss. I always fear that.

  4. I was sick for 2 weeks with the flu. For the first week, the fever was close to 105. I’m almost 40, and when I returned to strength training, I was stronger and the movements were easier. Weird right?

  5. Great video! Very recently i had to take a break due to excessive amount of hours at work (12-14h daily) so this video gave me some interesting facts.

  6. When I was 11 I once got sick and panicked and though I would lose everything xDDD, Kids are fucking stupid

  7. I took 2 months off after getting ill and came back getting extreme doms and lose of strength but I didn’t lose any muscle

  8. When you build the muscle shouldnt the muscle stay the same because youve added to the solid and why would it just start to dissapear if youve just built a solid in your body
    A brick wont start getting smallwr after two weeks will it why does muscle youve just built a solid and suddenly its loosing its matter??? How does that happen a tissue shouldnt just deteriorate when youve worked it out and added more protein coating to it the solid should just stay like that because youve built the solid already

  9. Yeah, 4 days off and I feel like I'm starting to decline. After a week it's like I'm a noob. After watching this vid, I'm happy to learn about the glycogen and water loss. That explains A LOT for me. Glad to hear it.

  10. It's my 4 days too, why everyone are in 4 days also I guess we all have same mindset of paranoia of losing gains

  11. I haven't worked out in about 2 months, the only thing I've noticeably lost is my stamina, as I used to do a lot of cardio, but my overall strength has increased a little bit. I've only been using heavy grippers. The 200lbs one every day.

  12. If you've been lifting for years its takes several months to lose a significant amount of strength I stopped lifting for about 4 months and only lost like 10% of my strength now maybe injustvgave great genetics in the strength department but I definitely dont lose strength in 2-3 weeks in facts I've takin 2-3 weeks off before and came back and hit a PR on Bench sometimes breaks can be a good thing so everyone's different is moral of the story…

  13. I swear, This day I have been thinking of taking a small break from working out but idk how long should it be, but then, this video pop off

  14. Took twelve weeks off, lost 10-12 lbs. Feels terrible. I sure hope I can recomp in about as much time, but it's gonna be tough at first.

  15. I trained for 10 years, than stop for 3 years. I almost lost everything. Then I started back 4 months ago and I almost regain everything. 2 more months and it will be hard to see I stopped.

  16. I stopped lifting or working out in general for 1.5 years after going almost everyday for 2 years. Im smaller but you can definitely tell I had worked out. My physique looks the same just overall smaller. Lost roughly 1.5 inches on my arms as they took the biggest hit for sure. Started working out little less than a month ago and can already see improvements. Definitely gained size in my arms again. So for anyone stopping for a few days or even weeks there is nothing to worry about =)

  17. You people have some real body image issues….. If you're ripped and you lose a couple pounds no one is even going to notice. And if its only a couple weeks off you're only loosing water weight, not strength.

  18. I didn't work out for 6 to 8 years and i kept my mass, worked out durring high school quit after that. I believe you are talking about protein shake build. Please verify what your basis is based off of.

  19. Tq for this info. Right now I am sick and not able to exercise. It’s been 5 days and I am starting again in 1-2 days.

  20. Bruh I worked out like twice in the last 2 months still got a big chest only muscle I ever lost was my legs

  21. Don’t be too worried but don’t get too comfortable. I played HS football for 6-7 years including mid school.. and I stopped working out mid senior year and stopped sports. A year later and I still have my abs. A tad less defined but no one notices. As far as my strength.. yes that ofc dropped but I’m not built. But I’m not muscleless either. I had an injury that made me go off and on

  22. For me it’s always illness, the moment I start getting some proper gains I get ill, like I am right now after working out for three weeks.

  23. This helped a lot because in going on vacation for a month and I'm not gonna have any time to workout, I thought if I stopped was gonna lose all my hard work lmao

  24. I have been training for 6 months, and have been making good progress, while training for mass 4 times a week. Unfortunately, coming September I will start attending University, and will barely have enough time to train at all. What is the bare minimum that I can do to minimise my losses in the meantime? Thanks.

  25. I decided to stop working out for a year to proceed with studying and getting taller , i know people tell me that workout dont effect your height , i do believe that , but i used to workout alot and im 17, i workout everyday , and swim after that , im not afraid to lose my gainz to pursue height im just afraid it will took me a long time to get back to my usual weight training

  26. I had surgery on my arm yesterday, on the table I asked about the gym and the surgeon said 2-3 weeks, just gonna have to eat like a king and bulk some I guess

  27. ive been deloading. outside of light bike riding and yoga I havent exercised the past 5 days. when I deload, I determine when to do it and how long to do it for by listening to my body. I wait until I feel fully recovered (muscles, joints, everything) and then I wait one more day. yesterday was the day where I felt better and it drove me nuts because I wanted to go work on my vert, but i held myself back. should get in some jump training today

  28. Going on 2 and a half weeks of not training, just eating and eating. Been lifting hard for about 5 years now, are these almost 3 weeks gonna be bad for me?

  29. I stopped working out for a year. I was very skinny when I started going to gym, I worked out for five months and start gaining muscle and weight but after a year I did not workout because of a very busy schedule my muscle just shrunk but my weight is still the same and when I worked out again after a year just by 1 and half month I regain all muscle that quick and got into my old shape just like a year ago

  30. I stopped working out on summer cuz I was rly sick but I got back and continues to do workout. But the prob is I used to do 30 pull up but I can't even do 10 anymore 🙁

  31. After 2 years of workout my gf broke up and i stop anything about gym now its been 2 more years i started again and u cant even imagine how much i miss the gym i hope i can lift old weights again that i was normally doin

  32. Help! I'm a former bodybuilder who had 2 shoulder surgeries 10 years ago, got addicted to Opioids and stopped training. Now 6 years clean, (thank you God). My question is this, do I still have muscle memory after all this time?

  33. Love this vid. I had surgery on my legs and needed to rest for 2.5 -3 weeks before going back to the gym. In the meanwhile I tried to stay as active as my wound allowed (keep walking, keep training my upper body etc). On the 3rd week, trained my squat for the first time, I admitted there’s some strength loss, weight felt super heavy and loss of couple reps. But then on the 2nd squat day, my strength totally came back to normal. This experience taught me it’s 100% no big deal to take a long break from training and when strength loss happens, just stay calm cos it comes back very quick anyway!

  34. 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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