The ef­fects of skip­ping the gym

Lesotho Times - - Health -

NO mat­ter how ded­i­cated you are to fit­ness, sooner or later, it’s go­ing to hap­pen: You’re go­ing to skip a work­out ... and an­other ... and an­other. Maybe you can blame the weather, a va­ca­tion, a mile-high pile of pa­per­work at the of­fice or just your run-of-the-mill funk. What­ever the rea­son, be­fore you know it, you’re out of shape.

Ne­glect­ing the gym ev­ery once in a while is noth­ing to worry about -- af­ter all, some­times your body needs to rest and re­cover. But when you hit pause on your work­outs for more than a week, you might ac­tu­ally be throw­ing your fit­ness level into rewind.

How fast you fall out of shape? You worked hard to get fit, whether by log­ging regular runs or striv­ing for new per­sonal bests in your bench press. When your work­outs fall by the way­side, how fast you fall out of shape de­pends on more than just how much time you spent away from the gym.

Your over­all fit­ness and the type of work­out you’re miss­ing will also im­pact your losses, says Dr James Ting, a board-cer­ti­fied sports medicine physi­cian with the Hoag Or­tho­pe­dic In­sti­tute in Irvine, Cal­i­for­nia.

As a gen­eral rule, the fit­ter you are, the longer it will take your mus­cles to turn to flab, he says. Your physique doesn’t like change; it’s con­stantly try­ing to achieve home­osta­sis.

So the longer you have been ex­er­cis­ing (and the fit­ter you are), the more time it will take for your body to say, “Well, I guess we don’t need to build mus­cle any­more.”

If it’s only been a week since you broke a sweat, don’t stress. What­ever your work­out his­tory, it’ll take more than seven days for your body to soften.

But two weeks? You might not get away with that as eas­ily. One study in the Jour­nal of Ap­plied Phys­i­ol­ogy sug­gests that eas­ing up on your work­outs for just 14 days can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce your car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness, lean mus­cle mass and in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity.

Mean­while, it can take two months or longer to see com­plete losses of your fit­ness gains, ac­cord­ing to Ting.

En­durance vs strength Your body will re­act dif­fer­ently depend­ing on whether you’re skip­ping en­durance ex­er­cise ver­sus strength

all con­sti­tute a ‘break,’“Ting says.

How to jump back in Depend­ing on how long you took off –– and how lazy you were –– you might not want to jump back into your work­outs, but rather ease into them. If you’ve taken more than a cou­ple of weeks off, you’ll prob­a­bly no­tice some dif­fer­ences. Af­ter a month or more, you’ll def­i­nitely want to get started with a less in­tense ver­sion of your regular work­out, Ting says.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to back off a lit­tle for the first week,” Schoenfeld says. “Choose a weight where you will be able to stop sev­eral reps short of fail­ure on your sets.

The fol­low­ing week you should be able to train at your pre­vi­ous level, as­sum­ing the rea­son for stop­ping wasn’t an ill­ness or in­jury.” Mean­while, if you’re get­ting back into run­ning, start at a pace at which you can run com­fort­ably and are able to speak in short sen­tences. Af­ter a week, try turn­ing up the speed.

It can be frus­trat­ing to ex­er­cise at any­thing less than your max ef­fort, sure, but grad­ual is the way to go to pre­vent in­jury. The last thing you want is to walk into the gym af­ter a month off, try to squat your usual load, and throw out your back. (Hello, an­other month off.)

Luck­ily, when it comes to get­ting back into your pre-break shape, you do have mus­cle mem­ory work­ing for you, Schoenfeld says. There are two as­pects to mus­cle mem­ory. One in­volves your abil­ity to carry out move­ments in a co­or­di­nated fash­ion.

Won­der why your first rep on the bench press looked so sloppy? It’s be­cause your body was learn­ing which mus­cle fibers it needed to re­cruit, and which ones it didn’t, to prop­erly per­form the ex­er­cise.

Then sec­ond com­po­nent of mus­cle mem­ory in­volves your cells. “Mus­cles have satel­lite cells -- ba­si­cally mus­cle stem cells -- that help to drive pro­tein syn­the­sis. Re­sis­tance train­ing in­creases satel­lite cells and th­ese changes re­main for years,” he ex­plains. “So even if mus­cle is lost from tak­ing time away for many years, a per­son can re­gain the lost mus­cle much more quickly af­ter an ex­tended lay­off.” Score.

Ex­actly how long it takes will vary from per­son to per­son, but by and large, you can ex­pect to be back in fight­ing shape in a few weeks.


if you hit pause on your work­outs for more than a week, you might be throw­ing your fit­ness level into rewind.

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