Body & Fitness

How long can you skip going to the gym before it starts affecting the workouts you’ve been putting in?

So you’ve skipped the gym, once, twice, thrice this week – but how long does it take before all the hard work you’ve put in at the gym begins to fade?
woman running with headphonesGetty Images

It can be difficult to build the routine of going regularly to the gym, but once you get going it’s a brilliant feeling, you wonder why didn’t go sooner.

But then we hit winter, the mornings are colder and for lots of us that make it’s infinitely more difficult to pull ourselves out of bed in the morning and once you skip a day, or two it’s easy to find yourself falling off the wagon and losing your motivation.

Then again, there’s some days when it just can’t be helped – but how many skipped days does it take for your body to start showing the effects of not going to the gym?

Well, according to FitHouse trainer Nina Marchione, about three weeks.

According to FitHouse trainer, Nina Marchione, it takes about three weeks of skipping the gym to start losing muscle. (Image: Getty)

Before you sigh a breath of relief, remember that it does only take two missed workouts to lose mental motivation so the longer you leave it, the harder it’ll be to get back into it.

“Muscle strength will start to decrease after around three weeks, but it’s going to be affected by various factors. So it’s not the same for us all,” Nina Marchione tells Well & Good.

“Your workouts may feel harder after only a week off, but the actual muscle won’t go away that fast.”

A study from the University of Copenhagen found it only took two weeks of inactivity in young people for as much as a fourth of their muscle mass to decrease, while the same amount of time for older people resulted in up to a third of muscle mass lost.

“The more muscle mass you have, the more you’ll lose,” Martin Gram, a researcher at the Centre of Healthy Aging and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, told Science Daily.

“Which means that if you’re fit and become injured, you’ll most likely lose more muscle mass than someone who is unfit, over the same period of time.”

Remember the longer you leave it, the harder it’ll be to get back into a fitness routine. (Image: Getty)

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to workout every single day, as rest days are also important to help your body properly recover, whether that be a complete rest day, or an ‘active rest’ day, where you still do gentle forms of exercise such as taking a walk or doing yoga.

And, if you just are getting back into exercise after a hiatus, remember to take it slow. The more time you’ve taken off the more susceptible to injury you’ll be and make sure you’re doing everything you can to help boost your recovery and reduce muscle soreness.

It’ll mean fewer chances of finding excuses and losing motivation and more chances of feeling strong and energised!

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