Give It A Rest (Without Getting Out Of Shape About Getting Out Of Shape)

How long before you lose muscle?! What, are you planning on becoming a gym delinquent? Oh, you are?! Okay, here's something to help with that.

Sick? Tired? Just not “feeling it”?

Work out and let the endorphins elevate your mood.

Have a doctor’s appointment or commitment that falls on the time of your training session?

Push your workout to earlier or later on during that same day.

Have some obligation that makes it completely impossible for you to make it to the gym on the day you’re scheduled to — like your friend’s wedding to bimbo or douchebag #3, for instance (third time’s the charm, right)?

Plan to do that workout on some day ahead or immediately after the intervening event.

Yeah, that’s right!

Take your ass to the motherfucking gym NO MATTER WHAT!!!

Why? Because consistency is what separates the nice body haves from the nice body have-nots.

…but there are times that you just can’t find a way to squeeze the gym — and all that goes with it — into your daily routine. You know, like when you’re laid up in bed with a stomach flu that has it coming out of both ends violently. Or it’s family vacation time and you have to take the kiddies on a road trip to Wally World. Under these and similar circumstances, your ability to train regularly and eat properly will be shot to hell for a number of days.

If that’s the case, take a break.

Yes, you heard me!

DON’T take your ass to the motherfucking gym!!!

But wait, what about your precious gains?

How long before you lose muscle?

Well, it depends.

I. Rest In Peace

After working out regularly, nothing’s going to happen to you during the week or two that you’re on break from the gym — nothing except your nervous system recovering and the muscles and connective tissue fully repairing themselves. All of this translates to possible strength gains from the body finally having the chance to rest and recuperate from the demands of training. Another thing to consider is that if you’ve been restricting your calories for months, then coming off your diet is an opportunity for you to jumpstart your metabolism, which slows down and burns less fat as the body adapts to having to draw energy from less and less food.

So enjoy yourself…and don’t beat yourself up about it, either!

That’s right.

You can puke and crap your brains out in peace or spend quality time with your children creating those memories that’ll scar them as adults without going ape shit about the loss of your gains!

II. Conditional Probability

One to two weeks of inactivity and eating freely won’t kill you. The time off may actually be beneficial for you.

H-O-W-E-V-E-R, try not to let 1-2 weeks of slothfulness and gluttony snowball into a month, then a decade.

Get back on the horse!!!

Don’t allow yourself to get out of routine for too long.

For someone new to training or just doing it recreationally, the danger of taking a break from working out isn’t your hard earned muscles turning to mush. Rather, the danger is you getting out of the habit of making fitness and nutrition part of your day-to-day. A prolonged sabbatical from the church of iron can lead to you having difficulty finding the motivation to pick things back up.

For the more disciplined and experienced gym goer, motivation isn’t the issue. The problem with extended breaks lies in the fact that since muscle is physiologically expensive for the body to build and maintain, the body will get rid of it when it’s not needed — like, hmmmmm, when you stop training. And generally, the more muscle mass you have, the more of it the body will lose. This deconditioning — muscle atrophy (i.e. loss of size) and decreased strength — occurs in intermediate or advanced trainees in as little as 2-4 weeks.

The longer before this group of people returns to training, the more that deconditioning will take place. And the more deconditioning that occurs, the longer it will take to return to the previous level of conditioning. This is in stark contrast to those beginning their fitness journey, who lack any real muscle mass. They can go without training for at least 3 months without any visible signs of loss to their newbie gains, watch the training montage in Rocky IV and get inspired to walk into a gym again, and use almost the same amount of weight they left off using.

III. Idle Worship

Wherever you are in your training, you’re more than likely doing yourself a huge favor by relaxing on vacation instead of trying to make the hotel gym serviceable (trust me, it isn’t). Or resting on your deathbed instead of going to the gym and contaminating it out of some desperate attempt to score macho points (trust me, no one is impressed and everyone hates you for exposing them to what you have).

Rest!

It’s an important but criminally overlooked part of the process.

…just don’t let that rest turn into something more and risk undoing the hard work of a few months.

Are you thinking about taking a break? After how long? Is your mind now at ease or are you still terrified of coming back even weaker than you currently are (if that’s even possible)? How much time are you taking off? And you’re doing what, exactly?! Going where? With who? Yeah, give me the details…and they better be good!
On second thought, spare me the details of your boring life. Just lie to me!!
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