How Long Can You Stop Working Out For

How Long Can You Stop Working Out For?

How Long Can You Stop Working Out For Until You Begin To Lose Muscle?

If you have to stop training for due to something that has come up such as being sick or even have a lack of motivation this is known as a retraining phase.

This phase could potential set you back all of the progress you have made but fortunately it does not happen over night.

How Long Can You Go Without Exercise?

It all depends on your type of level of fitness and how you train. Three different training styles each have there own time frame as to when you begin to lose progress as an effect of not training.

See the time frames and training styles below:

Cardiovascular Fitness

If you do more cardiovascular based fitness routines than your:

  • Stroke Volume
  • Work Capacity
  • Cardiac Output

All decrease after 10-12 days of inactivity and one of the core measurements of cardiovascular fitness known as VO2Max, can drop by 20% over the span of 2 weeks.

VO2Max is the maximum consumption of oxygen intake during a cardiovascular exercise.

People who are just starting off have a higher potential of losing everything than a more advanced individual.

For advanced athletes, performance can drop by as much as 25% over the course of 3 weeks.

Strength Based Fitness

For strength based training, it can take around 3 weeks of inactivity before you begin to lose progress.

More advanced athletes can get away with 4 weeks of inactivity before training it required to prevent strength loss.

Three main high levels of strength that can dissipate over time if you are inactive are:

  • Speed
  • Power
  • Coordination

Muscle Mass Loss

Muscle mass also falls into the same 2-3 week time frame before it begins to decrease with inactivity.

There is some belief that early muscle mass loss from inactivity can be caused by lower glycogen and water levels.

It is known that glycogen levels do drop by as much as 50% in two weeks of inactivity.

A study found that using a measuring tool and measuring muscle tissue over the span of 3 weeks of detraining. The results found that 0.7kg of lean mass was lossed from water in the glycogen stores.

Losing glycogen stores and water can be very easily revered by simply training again and eating a carbohydrate source.

Your age also plays an important role in how much muscle mass decrease over inactivity time.

Older individuals tend to lose muscle mass quicker compared to young individuals.

However age does not effect the rate at which strength and endurance is lost.

So Why Do We Lose Muscle From Inactivity?

The body only intends to keep as much muscle as necessary in order to the load that is being consistently placed on it.

The reason your body does this is because maintaining muscle costs a lot of energy.

If you body does not need the excess muscle tissue than it decreases its size in order to conserve energy.

The human body uses this mechanism because of an evolutionary stand point and being able to survive.

Try and think of the term:

Use It Or Lose It

If you don’t exercise to maintain your muscle mass than your body will think it doesn’t need it anymore and decrease it in order to conserve its energy for daily functions.


In conclusion the inactivity time for cardiovascular loss is 1-2 weeks. For strength and muscle mass loss it is between 2-3 weeks of inactivity. You need to keep training in order to keep the muscle. Or else the body will think it is unnecessary and decrease it for better energy conservation.

Also check out the article on “Why Deloading Can Be Very Beneficial To Building Muscle”

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