Everyone has skipped a workout at some point in their routine, and taking a break every now and again is completely fine! Plus rest days are very important for recovery and injury prevention. But it’s important to keep your breaks short because getting back into shape after a long time off can prove to be difficult. Long breaks can lead to strength loss and a lack of motivation to get back into a workout routine.
It’s easier to bounce back after a break if you exercise regularly (4 to 5 times a week) for over a year because of muscle memory. For newer gym goers, consistency is key for building new habits, so try to keep your long workout breaks to a minimum.
There are many other factors that play into how long it takes to get out of shape. First, age. A study done in 2000* showed that older subjects (aged 65-75) lost strength twice as fast as the younger group (aged 20-30) during a 6-month training break. If you want to pump the breaks on your routine just remember not to break for too long, or else picking up where you left off may be too much of a challenge. Why you’re taking the break is also a factor. When you’re sick, your body is overstressed and could account for faster strength loss.
So make the most of your break!
When you’re on vacation or stuck at home with a minor cold, follow these 3 tips to slow down your strength loss:
Do light cardio. This will help you maintain your routine and keep you heart active. Take a nice walk outside or an easy walk on a treadmill.
Incorporate minor resistance training. Do some light swimming in the pool or ocean if you’re on vacation. If you’re in bed, try to do some sit-ups or arm circles.
Eat right. This will be hard (especially if you’re at an all inclusive resort!) but try your best to stick your diet. Drink lots of water and remember, your break is temporary!
*Lemmer J.T., Hurlbut D.E., Martel G.F., et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2000 Aug;32(8):1505-12.
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