How Long Does It Really Take to Get Out of Shape?

A few weeks of inactivity can cost you all the progress you've made

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It took you half a year to get into the shape you wanted and now you’re thinking of taking a break. Generally, this is a good idea because exercises put stress on the body. All good programs always include a few days of rest. But they can easily slip into weeks. You can maintain your fitness level if you work out at minimal level. Otherwise you’ll be back to where you started in a lot less than six months. Shockingly, it can take as few as two weeks.

The bad news is that it takes twice as long at least to improve your fitness than to eliminate the progress.

The speed at which all these inevitable side effects occur varies with every person. It also depends on how advanced you are in your training. The longer you’ve worked out, the more time it takes for your body to get out of shape. The more often you take breaks of inactivity, the faster you regress with each one.

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Your endurance level and cardio health are the first victims. They start to go out the window in no more than two weeks, especially if you are a fitness beginner. Then you’re back to your inactivity levels in no time. According to studies that amount of oxygen people can uptake and use dives within a month of not training.

Blood volume plunges as well so the ability to burn fat diminishes, too. Enzymes crucial for keeping your metabolism fast are suddenly less active. All of these lead to you losing what you’ve accomplished with hard work.

A few more weeks later you begin to lose muscle. It takes about four weeks for muscle fibers to start shrinking. After four more weeks you will see the difference. Your abs are saggy and your biceps are soft.

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If you stop working out, then you must eat less food. It’s a simple math problem: You burn fewer calories when you are not active so you need to intake fewer. The extra calories will be stored as fat which won’t be converted into energy because you lack muscle and have lower oxygen levels in your blood. If you have been active and doing resistance training on regular basis for a year or more, then you muscle memory should be solid. If that’s the case and you’re not injured, it will take about five weeks for you to start losing strength.

The good news if you are a newbie at the gym is that is takes you less time to retain strength than those who have been working out longer. A study showed that half a year after quitting a 4-month strength training program, 50 percent of the strength gain was maintained.

More readings: 

13 Workouts for When You’re Too Tired to Workout

Why do you stop losing weight (and what to do then)

15 Most Fulfilling Foods that Will Help You Lose Weight