What starts to happen when you miss your workout? (or 2 or 3? Or 20…)

Everyone knows you need to exercise in order to get in shape, but what happens to your body when you start missing workouts?

How long does it take to “lose it”? And how quickly can you get it back?

Here’s what happens when you miss workouts

  • 3 days: You probably won’t notice any obvious effects, but your body will start to make changes internally. Your body recognizes that it needs to mediate the loss of muscle fibers and begins to make changes to preserve the muscle. You won’t notice much, and you won’t gain fat as long as your diet doesn’t drastically change.
  • 10 days: The physiological pathways that lead to muscle loss begin. You start to lose tone and strength.
  • 2 weeks: This is the point where you start to lose actual muscle mass.
    Conditioning athletes [think CrossFit, cardio, running] will retain their strength, while strength athletes will see losses at this time. You shouldn’t see a major shift in body weight though.
  • 3 weeks: A significant reduction in muscular power performance during high-effort activities like sprinting or near-max lifting.
  • 4 weeks: At this point, you’re going to notice that you might be a little out of breath when you get back into the gym. You can expect to see a 10% decrease in muscular ability, and the beginnings of a decrease in aerobic capacity.
  • 6 weeks: Decent strength can still be maintained, but you’ll keep losing power and strength.
  • 6 to 8 months: After a while, you’ll lose a lot of strength — weights are going to feel heavier, and moves that were once easy for you will feel extra challenging. But the good news is you can definitely bounce back — and quickly!

One study found that during a whole year off, a group of strength-trained women lost a considerable amount of the strength, but they regained the strength after only 12 weeks of retraining.

  • 2 years: Even after two or more years of detraining, “muscle memory” has the ability to retain up to 15-percent higher force than before the training program started.

This means that even if you take two years off from exercising, you won’t ever go back to square one where you started.

Muscle atrophy is when muscles waste away. The main reason for muscle loss is disuse – a lack of regular muscular effort. What happens when you miss your workouts is your body thinks you no longer need these muscles for anything, so why bother maintaining them?

atrophy from missed workouts

A regular strength training program will keep you from losing muscle tone and strength.

So if you’ve fallen away from your workouts, there’s hope — and you can probably get back in shape faster than you had feared!

Just send us a message and we can set a time to get you back on the wagon. Your body will thank you a few weeks from now…