When it comes down to fitness, we’ve all heard of the saying, “Use It or Lose It”. While it’s very true that when you stop exercising you will lose fitness, how fast you lose it depends on several factors. These include how old you are, how fit you happen to be, how long you have been exercising as well as how long you stopped.
Losing fitness when you cease working out also called detraining or deconditioning. This is one of the major tenets of conditioning.
The fundamental principle of use/disuse just means that when we cease exercising, we usually begin to decondition and also lose both strength as well as aerobic fitness. Many of us need to stop exercising, from time to time, for any number of reasons. Illness, injury, holidays, work, travel as well as social commitments often interfere with training routines. When this takes place, we will often see a decline in our level of conditioning.
Let’s Talk Numbers
It doesn’t matter if you’re of normal fitness, or if you’re a marathon runner – levels of fitness drop fast. It goes without saying that the marathon runner’s fitness would still be better as opposed to a person whose chief exercise is walking because the marathon runner was fitter in the first place.
However, after a week of no training, both would be half as fit as they were the last time they worked out. Cardio fitness is the first to go and after about two weeks, you’ll probably start to show between a 7-10% loss in strength levels.
Regarding cardio, you will pretty quickly notice a vast difference in your body’s ability to transport as well as utilise oxygen. This will show up in the form of you getting puffed out easily, sweating more profusely and feeling tired.
On the strength side, when there is no stimulus, your muscle mass will decrease. Some research suggests that in just a week you can lose up to 10% of your muscle mass. Over three months, you will lose the majority of your gains.
Getting Back In Shape
If you’re resuming your strength-training routine after a break, begin with lighter weights or fewer reps (if you’re doing bodyweight exercises) than what you’re used to. Increase the weight gradually in order to give your tendons time in order to regain their elasticity.
You don’t just lose strength in your muscles when you take an extended break from weight-lifting. You will also lose elasticity in your tendons (these are responsible for attaching muscle to bone). When your tendons are elastic, they’re more able to generate – as well as absorb – force during high-impact movements. Examples are sprints, plyometrics in addition to heavy weight-training.
Some people go right back to lifting heavy weights while their tendons are still quite stiff: This is where the tendons run the risk of tearing or breaking. So, whatever you do, don’t attempt to pick up where you left off.
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