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Lift Like Jess- Strength Performance Coach

Most of us have probably experienced this struggle along our fitness journey. We’ve gone on holidays, came back to training and pretty much sucked. This is called DETRAINING or DECONDITIONING and it is frustrating as hell. I’ve experienced this many times in the first couple years of my career so here’s some facts to help you make an informed decision about the breaks you take!

Many physiological changes start to happen once you stop exercising. Your hearts ability to move blood more efficiently begins to decrease as does your muscles improved ability to utilize oxygen and your body’s ability to metabolize carbs for energy (decrease in fitness). You’ll start to loose gains in muscle fibre size as well as other neuromuscular adaptions (strength and hypertrophy). Any improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar that were brought on by training will begin to disappear also.

How quickly detraining happens once you stop exercising depends on many factors such as age, how fit you are, how long you’ve been training, what type of training you had been doing and at what level. This is referred to as your “training age”. People who train intensely and have been quite fit/strong for a number of years will experience a much slower process of overall decline in comparison to someone with a younger training age.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, not training for as little as two weeks can cause complete detraining in some individuals. It can take up to 8 months for people with a higher training age. Most people saw a decline in fitness before strength. How quickly this happens varies from person to person. I’ve seen people that had been training for almost a year, at a recreational level, completely detrain after a 5 week holiday with no exercise and a fair bit of alcohol consumption. I’ve also seen clients that have been training less than a year come back after 5 weeks with noticeable fitness losses and only small strength losses.

The moral of the story is if you’re new on your fitness journey, plan to include some sort of exercise on your holidays if you want to minimize the effects of detraining. The longer you’ve been at it the less you’ll lose. It seems like it takes forever to make these strength and fitness gains and no time at all to lose it. Really, in the first few years, it’s true. Once you’ve put in your miles and converted to a healthy, active lifestyle for a couple of years you will start to reap the benefits more and more and actually NEED the breaks from training whereas people with a younger fitness age generally aren’t lifting at a high enough intensity or frequency to require deloading or breaks from training. Just to clarify, I’m not saying deloading needs to take the form of a flat out break from training but that is another topic. What I am saying is if your goal is to get super fit/strong and maintain it then you better be willing to put in the work. Particularly in the first couple years!

Lift Like Jess- Strength Performance Coach