Exercise Recovery and Losing Muscle
We all need rest, but how much time off does it take before your muscles atrophy?
But as productive as it can be to rest your body, McCall still doesn’t suggest doing it too often, saying that a full week break once or twice a year works best for a lot of fit people.
Another expert in the field, Shane Paulson, president of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists, agrees with McCall on many levels. He says a two-week break from exercise won’t cause any visual muscle loss, so those of you worried about the aesthetic value of that physique you worked so hard for have little to fear over the course of a brief vacation.
“Some detraining changes might occur in conditioned individuals that require a step back approach to their training intensity upon returning to it,” he says. “But there would normally be no noticeable decrease in muscle mass.”
What You Really Lose: Motivation
As mentioned before, people focused on maintaining a moderate level of fitness are actually at the most risk of losing their progress during breaks from working out, as it tends to be more difficult for them to get back into the habit. On the plus side, so long as someone like this is healthy during the break, hopefully he or she can still find time once or twice a week to maintain the level of fitness they’ve established.
If you’re a serial exerciser though, know that your body needs to take a nice break every so often. If you can, save that time off for your next vacation so you can be satisfied with the knowledge that you’ve earned your time off from both work and working out.