How long a break before losing significant muscle/strength?

How long a break before losing significant muscle/strength?

  • Less than 1 week

    Votes: 9 6.6%
  • 1 week

    Votes: 17 12.5%
  • 2 weeks

    Votes: 56 41.2%
  • 3 weeks

    Votes: 31 22.8%
  • 4 weeks

    Votes: 13 9.6%
  • More than a month

    Votes: 10 7.4%

  • Total voters
    136
TeamSavage

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Traveling for the holidays disrupted my normal gym schedule, and it got me curious... How long can you take completely off from lifting before you start to lose significant muscle and/or strength? (Assume continuation of high-protein diet with at least maintenance kCals.)
 
somewhatgifted

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I think after two weeks of inactivity i personally can tell if ive been slacking. If im doing other physical activities i dont really notice. Im going on three currently but do meanial little tasks to keep me fresh.
 
Mulletsoldier

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Many studies I have read have alluded to a 14 day period before muscle atrophy ensues; however, these studies were not done on resistant trained individuals. I think it also depends on the rate of one's metabolism as a unit. For myself, I have seen very significant muscle loss after 21 days. During a shoulder injury period of three months I lost a total of about 21 pounds, continuing even with maintenance calories. However, my metabolism is extremely fast.
 
Mass_69

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Around 2 weeks I will notice a temporary loss in strength, and muscles start to feel flat/lose hardness.
 
Rostam

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I took 3 weeks off for xmas break, and lost 4lbs and 1/3" off my arms. During this break I caught a flu though.
 
bLacKjAck.

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You have to understand that everybody is different. But, for me I can notice a difference after a week of not lifting. I never like to go any longer than that.
 
jonny21

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I've gone a week without noticeable loss. Everytime I take 2 weeks off I notice considerable drop offs in strength and endurance, not to mention mental focus.
 

Stinger124

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I got busy and or lazy.. ( Work related ) and I took off for about 6 weeks.. I lost 2 inches on my chest.. 1/4" on my biceps, and I was very weak when I went back.. I have only been back for a week now, and it is murder..
 
BigVrunga

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A professional bodybuilder and nutritionist once told me that it takes about 8 weeks of inactivity for a muscle to truly atrophy. I know I start to feel ****ty after about 5 days of not hitting the gym...but after a good workout everything comes back almost immediately.
 
Rivet

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I always take a full week off every 2 months. The week I get back I'm weaker but the week after that I'm usually a little stronger then before I left. I did take my week off once just to get sick the following week. I noticed then a big drop off in strength.
 
CRUNCH

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I think we all start to notice it within a couple weeks, but I don't think you will get a significant drop until about four weeks or more.

Of course that will spped up if you're not eating also.

When my second marriage broke up, it was pretty devastating for me. A long story too. Regardless, I didn't workout or eat anything (less than 500 cals per day) due to the depression for a good six weeks. I lost over 25 freaking pounds in that time. I went from 235 lbs to under 210. That was bad! There are some truelly evil women out there.

On a good note, four years later, I now look better than I ever have and she's gained at least 80 pounds! Gotta love karma!
 

getjacked63

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I think we all start to notice it within a couple weeks, but I don't think you will get a significant drop until about four weeks or more.

Of course that will spped up if you're not eating also.

When my second marriage broke up, it was pretty devastating for me. A long story too. Regardless, I didn't workout or eat anything (less than 500 cals per day) due to the depression for a good six weeks. I lost over 25 freaking pounds in that time. I went from 235 lbs to under 210. That was bad! There are some truelly evil women out there.

On a good note, four years later, I now look better than I ever have and she's gained at least 80 pounds! Gotta love karma!
80 lbs??? DAYUMMM! thats a HUGE *****! haha.
 
Chad

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$hit, i feel like a bad person when i take more than 3 DAYS off. i think it gets in your head if you take too much time off. you lose that feeling of knowing you can put up heavy weight. it then turns into a " i hope i can still lift that".
 

Motox

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A highly conditioned/ trained person can begin losing muscle very fast and the rule of thumb is about 3-4% per day. It depends on the quality of muscle you have and it varys from person to person on how fast it happens.
 
pistonpump

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I think we all start to notice it within a couple weeks, but I don't think you will get a significant drop until about four weeks or more.

Of course that will spped up if you're not eating also.

When my second marriage broke up, it was pretty devastating for me. A long story too. Regardless, I didn't workout or eat anything (less than 500 cals per day) due to the depression for a good six weeks. I lost over 25 freaking pounds in that time. I went from 235 lbs to under 210. That was bad! There are some truelly evil women out there.

On a good note, four years later, I now look better than I ever have and she's gained at least 80 pounds! Gotta love karma!

hey i have a similair story. I wont go into details but now shes gained alot of weight. I was depressed and hardly ate, let me tell you! I had the craziest abs ive ever seen on me. Not to mention cuts galore but, it did a toll on my strength for sure.

Anyway, Im going on a 1 week vacation and Ill probably just do pushups in the morning or something to keep in a little shape.....this thread helps ease my mind.
 
TeamSavage

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A highly conditioned/ trained person can begin losing muscle very fast and the rule of thumb is about 3-4% per day. It depends on the quality of muscle you have and it varys from person to person on how fast it happens.
3-4%/day seems pretty extreme, no? That means you go on a 2-week vacation and you've lost 42-56% of your muscle! I don't think so.
 
CRUNCH

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hey i have a similair story. I wont go into details but now shes gained alot of weight. I was depressed and hardly ate, let me tell you! I had the craziest abs ive ever seen on me. Not to mention cuts galore but, it did a toll on my strength for sure.

Anyway, Im going on a 1 week vacation and Ill probably just do pushups in the morning or something to keep in a little shape.....this thread helps ease my mind.
I just found out from some friends that she just got her 3rd or 4th DWI too. Her license is now gone for a year! I mentioned something about karma didn't I?? LOL.

I don't even remember if I had abs after that weight loss bout, the whole thing is still kind of a fog to this day.
 
nutratroy

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3-4%/day seems pretty extreme, no? That means you go on a 2-week vacation and you've lost 42-56% of your muscle! I don't think so.
Well, actually accute muscle atrophy occurs within 48-72 hours due to muscle inactivity. Depending on many factors, one dictates the speed of muscle lose. Remember, the body is always in a constant state of change, which allows homeostasis to control us. Otherwords...we lose and gain protein-based tissue daily. factors such as eating, reducing stress, ect...help keep muscle, but as stated above...the 'turn-over-rate" depends upon the person's daily choices.

Simple study on Anabolic/Catabolic Ratio explains the answer genetleman.

Losing 42% is highly unlikely. Because of the stamenet mentioned above.
 
TeamSavage

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Well, actually accute muscle atrophy occurs within 48-72 hours due to muscle inactivity. Depending on many factors, one dictates the speed of muscle lose. Remember, the body is always in a constant state of change, which allows homeostasis to control us. Otherwords...we lose and gain protein-based tissue daily. factors such as eating, reducing stress, ect...help keep muscle, but as stated above...the 'turn-over-rate" depends upon the person's daily choices.

Simple study on Anabolic/Catabolic Ratio explains the answer genetleman.

Losing 42% is highly unlikely. Because of the stamenet mentioned above.
Yeah, but we're not talking about the rate of turnover. We're talking about losing muscle & strength during sustained periods of not working out. If you have catabolism of 4% but anabolism of 3.5% then you're not really "losing" 4% or anything close.
 
nutratroy

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TS: I should have been clearer…I side with you on the percentages as if you re-read my post.

But unless I am mistaking, we all here eat and sleep, train daily. So our environment is in favor for positive state of change. Since we actually favor anabolism by a few percent, thus will result in new muscle.

But when we stop (for long periods or short) our “perceived normal” state of being or balance of homeostasis will come into effect. Thus means the ratio at which we react to losing muscle will dictate PTOR (rate at which protein based tissue (muscle) is gained or lost, due to anabolic/catabolic ratio. Muscle atrophy does occur in about 72 hours of no stimulation.

But as I stated, many factors also influence how fast we can lose hard earned muscle. If one just stopped inducing positives gains and suddenly took in phytoestrogens, soy, and a hell of a lot of stress…25 pound lose quickly could feasibly happen. Or better yet, cancer! (Which I know all to well)…but my simple reply to the orginal question is one starts losing serious muscle in 4 days. I say serious because it is so hard to gain it, why not to try to keep it.
But a good vaca is needed every now and then too...:cheers:
 
klugman

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I think we all start to notice it within a couple weeks, but I don't think you will get a significant drop until about four weeks or more.

Of course that will spped up if you're not eating also.
If I start eating less or just junk then strength drops very quickly...If I eat well and take a week off I always come back stronger.

I think diet is really more important unless you are off for a 3+ weeks.
 

Motox

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Diet does not have much to do with it at all, the reason you come back stronger is prolly because your muscles get completly replenished. The thing is what you do while your taking time off if you are bedridden and sendentary it happens very fast and drastic. If you are more active then you will keep more. Why would your body want to keep extra muscle it just takes up space and is basically extra mouths to feed for your body.
 
pistonpump

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well its been almost 5 days, jet lag, new home, finally being a daddy (stress haha), not my normal diet and walking my only excercise, i already feel small and weak. Just woke up and did some push ups, DAMN! I can feel the difference and i still have about another 5 days of this! i think diet is a BIG factor honestly. I have not protien shakes here and im just taking a multi. ....Very curious to see what performance will be like in the gym when i get back home.
 
CRUNCH

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Diet does not have much to do with it at all, the reason you come back stronger is prolly because your muscles get completly replenished. The thing is what you do while your taking time off if you are bedridden and sendentary it happens very fast and drastic. If you are more active then you will keep more. Why would your body want to keep extra muscle it just takes up space and is basically extra mouths to feed for your body.
Diet doesn't have much to do with it????? If you're eating dughnuts and Mtn Dew all day vs. your normal high protein/good carb meals, there be a very drastic difference in how fast your body loses muscle and strengh! Weather it's a week or a month.
 

Motox

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No why would it make a difference? That would dictate how fat you get. If you are not using your muscles then why would your body feed them more energy? Our bodies are efficient like that. Its not like when you eat protein and brocolli it turns into muscle imediatly, if that were so we we just sit on the couch and do eat.
 
TeamSavage

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No why would it make a difference? That would dictate how fat you get. If you are not using your muscles then why would your body feed them more energy? Our bodies are efficient like that. Its not like when you eat protein and brocolli it turns into muscle imediatly, if that were so we we just sit on the couch and do eat.
It makes a difference because if you eat above maintenence kCals and eat enough protein to maintain a positive nitrogen balance, your muscles will be largely spared. If you eat sub-maintenance kCals muscle will be catabolized MUCH faster, especially if you aren't eating enough protein and have a neg nitrogen balance.

Diet has everything to do with how fast you lose muscle.
 
CRUNCH

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It makes a difference because if you eat above maintenence kCals and eat enough protein to maintain a positive nitrogen balance, your muscles will be largely spared. If you eat sub-maintenance kCals muscle will be catabolized MUCH faster, especially if you aren't eating enough protein and have a neg nitrogen balance.

Diet has everything to do with how fast you lose muscle.
Exactly!
 
pistonpump

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It makes a difference because if you eat above maintenence kCals and eat enough protein to maintain a positive nitrogen balance, your muscles will be largely spared. If you eat sub-maintenance kCals muscle will be catabolized MUCH faster, especally if you aren't eating enough protein and have a neg nitrogen balance.

Diet has everything to do with how fast you lose muscle.
im doing that right now and i think if i did stick to regular workout/bb'er diet id be holding alot if not all muscle. Since im eating higher than normal fat and sub maintenance kCals im seeing significant muscle and strength loss. So I mean im living it right now and Diet is more important than actually working out in terms of holding muscle Imo. Which leads me to believe that in the whole scheme of things....diet is more important in bodybuilding than actual routine. But then again even the pros are still not sure about that.
 

Motox

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Well of course if you are under your maintenance cals you will lose that is true evn if you are workin out out. Besides what do you consider "enough protein" if you take care of yourself and eat well then you should be ok maybe add a shake in the morning and at night at the most. If you are sedentary for weeks on end you will loseat a rapid rate regardless. We can argue this all day ex, if you maybe just did 50 pushups, 100 bodyweight squats and maybe 25 hindu pushups throughout the day evryday then you could probably keep more but if you are completly sedentary say bye bye to your hard work. Also it has to do with how long you are taking off, if its 3-4 weeks then ya eating well will help pastthat I dont think it makes a diff
 

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usually i notice a tapering down of strength around 2.5-3 wks; 4wks without any work at all = disaster!
 

AM07

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I went almost 6-7 weeks without any direct shoulder work, and didn't lose much strength.

I went basically 6 weeks without doing legs and didn't lose ANY strength.

Muscle memory is a great thing, and I'm a small guy.
 
Variocam

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I think al ot of it is water and glycogen.

I never take more than a week and a half off, I start shrinking or something.
 
Wanker527

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i just came back from a 6 week layoff. I lost 10 pounds of muscle (i'm very lean) and pretty much all of my lifting stamina (3 sets of deadlifts felt like a damn marathon)...yet after just 1 week of workouts my strength is right back where it was. weird.
 
Seth1013

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I heard that for the first 3 weeks that you take off you loose 30% of your mass but is this just a rumor.

I went on a break during the summer last year because i wasn't near a gym at all so i didnt lift for about one and a half months and i could lift more when i got back to the gum :confused:
 
TeamSavage

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I heard that for the first 3 weeks that you take off you loose 30% of your mass but is this just a rumor.
Well that's pretty absurd unless you completely take off eating as well.
 

Motox

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I would think a lot of of it would have to do with how fast your motor units dimish the body is very efficient and usually does not like to maintain things that are not used
 
pantera101

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Diet,routine,and sleep are equally important.without one you'll fail.If you could do better with one or the other,then well,a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link.I beleive the pro's are sure of how important diet is,if you read bb mags and websites,you'll get sick and tired of allways reading how important diet is.I lifted from 18-almost 21without proper diet or routine(did the same thing and too often).i worked out at home and didnt read or know anyone who lifted or let alone into bb.i went from 130 138-142.started eating and traing right and in 1 year shot up to 180(183 was pr).Now i'm at 168(much leaner than 183) from screwing up a cutting phase and it's killing me arms are about 1/2" smaller and quads 3/4,but don't necesarrily look it.Didn't notice a decrease in strength untill i took 4 days off to recuperate.I had been back to bulking for probably 3 weeks before i took time off.Don't know what this proves,just my experience.
 

Lunchbox_81

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Rest and Recuperation Leads to Muscle Growth

An article taken from the November 2008s issue of Muscular Development on page 172


In a recent study when power athletes took two weeks off, there were no significant changes in free-weight bench press (-1.7percent), parallel squat (-. 9percent) isometric (-7percent) and concentric knee extension force (-2.3percent), however they had a small increase in vertical jumping (1.2percent) performance after the two-week rest period.
Interestingly, several anabolic hormones were increased in the two week rest period, levels of plasma growth hormone (58.3percent), testosterone (19.2percent) and the testosterone to cortisol ration (67.6percent) increased, where as plasma cortisol (-21.5percent) and creatine kinase enzyme levels (-82.3percent) decreased.

Clearly, there is a restoration of anabolic hormones from the intense training. What would happen if you decided to take some time off? Wouldn’t you lose all your size and strength? In a recent study in the JOURNAL OF STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING RESEARCH, researchers took well-trained shot putters and tracked their performance at the completion of 14 weeks of training; additionally they investigated changes in muscle size after four weeks off. No training at all...complete rest and recuperation.

At the end of the study after four weeks of not training, their shot put performance was not altered; additionally, there was no change in maximal strength after detraining. What about muscle size? The shot putters had a small decrease in Type II fibers (this was not a big decrease; it was relatively small), but they had an increase in Type IIx muscle fibers in their legs. Fast twitch muscle fibers are divided into two types: Type IIa and Type IIx. Type IIa fibers have a moderate resistance to fatigue and represent a transition between the two extremes of the slow twitch and Type IIx fibers. Functionally, they are used for prolonged anaerobic activities with a relatively high force output, such as racing 400 meters. Type IIx fibers are the most explosive, powerful fibers humans posses. Type IIxfibers exhibit the fast rate of contraction, and are very large in diameter, have lox oxidative capacities and low mitochondria, but contain the highest glycol tic content. These fibers are recruited for heavy resistance training protocols with maximal or near-maximal loads, in addition to other activities or sports requiring a fast rate of contraction such as sprinting, Olympic lifting, or polymeric work. Type IIx muscle fibers contract approximately twice as fast as type IIa and 9-10-fold faster than type I (aerobic) muscle fibers. The researchers concluded that although there was a small decrease in Type IIa fibers, the increase in Type IIx fibers maintained strength, which coincides with no reductions in performance. Additionally, during this period of rest and recuperation they had an increase in Type IIx fibers.

Ever notice that after a vacation, something strange happens when you go back to the gym...you're stronger! Interestingly, it has been reported that after three months of continuous training followed by a muscle being rested, the amount of Type IIx fibers will be greater than its previous resting levels. This overshoot of Type IIx fibers may be the very reason why many athletes who take some time off can indeed put on substantial increase in muscle size and power from a brief rest/recuperation period. Many strength and power coaches will have their athletes train for six to eight weeks of an intense training period followed by a week of complete rest to take advantage of this myosin IIx overshoot process. This is a valuable tip that all body builders can learn from.

Dr. Darden, who has adopted the training philosophy of the late Arthur Jones,truly believes that a majority of the bodybuilders are overtraining. In one of dr. Darden’s books, he spoke of a young bb who had reached a plateau in his career and wanted to put on mass and agreed to follow dr.darden's training philosophy exactly as it was written...no questions! The younger bb excitedly opened his training manual only to see the following: WEEK 1-NO TRAINING, FULL WEEK OF REST AND RECUPERATION. The bb freaked out, he was training with dr.darden to get bigger, so why did he need a week off? Later in the book, the bb admitted that he had never taken time off from the gym and admitted it was the best gains in size he had made in years. This may be due at an increase in Type IIx fibers and an increase in anabolic hormones from the recuperation period.

Many Olympic and power lifting athletes will train hard for several weeks leading to a competition, then take some time off for recuperation. Obviously, there is a diminishing time effect where taking too much time off will decrease muscle strength and muscle mass, however taking time off is good. Base on the advice of Dave Palumbo, Shaw Ray, Flex Wheeler, and Kevin Levrone, they emphasized the importance of rest and recoup for muscle growth. If you feel that you just can't take time off, then try doing a week of no weights and just low-intensity cardio or some other form of exercise that does not stress the nervous system. The research has suggested that taking time off leads to a restoration of anabolic hormones and an increase in type IIx muscle fibers. Sometimes, between given the choice of TRAIN HEAVY OR GO HOME, going home may be the best choice.
 

viper0213

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Great article. I was looking for something exactly like this to read.
 

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