Normally, I work out between 3 to 6 days a week but every once in a while something comes up. Whether it be a cold, family visiting, a trip, or… a spurt of laziness… there comes the occasional week when I reduce to 1 day a week. Does that reverse all my previous effort?
In terms of weight loss, calorie intake is the most important factor. So as long as I reduce my calorie intake in response to the decreased calorie burn, I can continue to lose weight. Obviously, this is not a healthy long-term strategy, but it should be effective in terms of taking… OK I admit it… a lazy week.
But- what about the rest of it? Do I loose all the muscle I built? Or how much muscle do I lose? Am I unfit after taking a week off? Should I go double-time next week? Will my ab work be reversed? How much damage does a lazy week really do?
Here is what I found out:
- Remember that you actually get fitter during recovery. Recovery is when your muscles build; so taking some kind of break is crucial.
- Taking up to a week off won’t undo your previous gains. Apparently, athletes actually schedule a week off every 8 to 12 weeks of training.
- It takes over a week to undo your gains.
- It takes approximately 2 months of inactivity to completely undo your hard work.
- Muscular strength and endurance lasts longer than aerobic fitness. Muscles retain memory for weeks or months.
- Be careful not to let your one-week off turn into more weeks.
Ok, so now that we have justified a week break… What is the best way to go about it?
- Keep track of your week off. You should only be taking a break like this after about 10 weeks of “putting in work”. So, no you can’t work out one week, skip the second, workout the third, skip the fourth, and so on.
- Continue your healthy eating habits and/or adjust your calorie intake to continue losing weight.
- Don’t be a complete couch potato. Engage in light activity such as long walks, light yoga, stretching, bike rides, work in the garden, etc.
- Take it easy during your week back and work up to your previous fitness level.