Today I will answer the following question. Will I lose muscle if I don’t work out for 2 days?
Most fitness enthusiasts will tell you that working out daily is essential to maintaining big muscles. However, many people find themselves unable to work out for various reasons such as injuries, busy schedules, etc.
Well, I have good news for you. To maintain healthy muscles, you must exercise regularly. But sometimes, we cannot hit the gym for a while. In these cases, you should not worry about losing muscle mass. Instead, we need rest days to give our muscle time to heal and grow. You may lose some muscle and strength if you have a more extended training break.
In this article, I will share how long we must stop working out before losing muscle mass and strength, the best ways to prevent muscle mass loss, and how to recuperate from a long break.
Will I Lose Muscle If I Don’t Work Out For 2 Days?
You won’t lose your hard-earned muscles if you don’t work out for only two days. On the contrary, it will make your muscles stronger. Even after a few weeks, you maintain the same size and strength of your muscles. Longer than that, you may lose some strength, but the size is still there.
When I didn’t use the weights for an extended period, my strength decreased significantly, but my muscles only got smaller by a small margin. After three to four months of training, I was back again, stronger than ever, and gained muscle mass again.
It’s not easy building muscle naturally. You need to be patient, it’s a long-term project, and you may reach a point where you won’t see any progress. But the good news is that you keep those muscles for a long time.
Muscle Loss and Timeline?
You will start losing muscle when you stop working out after about two to three weeks. The reason is simple: Your body needs rest to rebuild itself.
Your muscle size will continue to decrease over the next couple of weeks as your muscles begin to break down. This is normal and happens every time you take a break from exercising.
After a month to 2 months, your muscles will have shrunk to their smallest size. At this point, you can expect them to stay at this size until you resume regular exercise.
Loss of muscle mass is inevitable when you stop working out. However, it doesn’t happen overnight.
Strength Loss and Timeline?
If you’ve ever stopped working out for a couple of weeks, you may notice that your first few workouts after returning to exercise feel awkward. You cannot move the weight correctly, the weights are more unstable than usual, and you feel less strong.
So, you lost muscle strength, right? Well, it depends.
A study conducted by one of the largest review sites on this subject found that experienced weightlifters noticed no decrease in strength at all, even after taking a three-week break. Their strength declined after about four weeks.
Even if you’re starting your fitness journey, there’s some evidence that you can maintain the strength gained from one week of training for up to two additional consecutive weeks. For newbies, this timeline also works. Guys with less experience can also take two or three weeks off without losing strength.
Do you know that feeling of feeling sluggish after taking a couple of weeks or even days off from working out or that feeling that everything is lost?
WHY IS THAT?
Strength alone isn’t enough to move heavy weight; other factors are also involved.
Your technique has decreased. If you’ve been away from the gym for a couple of weeks, you might want to pay attention to regaining your form before resuming exercising with heavier weights.
You need to get back into the habit of doing the little things like your posture, grip, breathing, stance, and form, so you can focus on the mind-muscle connection again when working out.
That’s one of the main reasons why more experienced bodybuilders and weight lifters recuperate their strength generally a bit faster. They already eat and breathe things like technique, grip, posture, and stance.
They also feel more confident, even after taking a short break from exercising. Another reason is they have developed muscle memory over the years. More about that later.
If you use a different stance when squatting, you will feel slightly uncomfortable during the first couple of workouts. Once you’ve gotten some exercise under your belt, you’ll be able to hit your previous numbers again.
In short, we can conclude that you can expect to lose some strength after four weeks without working out. This number is the same for beginners or the more experienced guys, with the only difference being that it might take a bit longer to regain their strength when getting back to the gym.
Once you start exercising again, you’ll probably regain muscle mass and increase your physical fitness faster than you did when you started.
Does Muscle Turn Into Fat When Not Working Out?
Muscle and fat are two entirely different cell types. Your muscles contain protein and glycogen, while your fat stores contain triglycerides and cholesterol.
If you lose weight, your body will begin to burn the stored fats, causing your skin to sag and your hair to fall out.
This results in your body needing the energy to function correctly, so it turns into your reserves.
Fat is stored energy in the form of triglycerides. These fatty acids are converted into ketones by the liver. Ketone bodies enter the bloodstream, where they cause the brain to use them as fuel.
Because of this, people who eat high amounts of carbohydrates tend to store more fat because their brains prefer glucose over ketones.
That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean your muscle tissue is becoming fat. Muscle cells do not store fat like other cells; they use carbohydrates and proteins to build themselves up.
So, if you lose weight, your muscles will naturally shrink.
How to Handle a Detraining Period?
If you’re looking to avoid losing muscle mass during prolonged inactivity, here are some tips for maintaining or losing it as soon as possible.
The first thing you want to make sure of is that you are getting plenty of protein. Protein helps repair muscles, maintain bone density, and build strong tendons and ligaments, but it also helps maintain muscle mass during off days.
Heck, protein can even provoke muscle growth on your off days. If you don’t eat enough protein, you won’t be able to keep up with the demands of building, repairing, and maintaining muscle tissue.
Another critical factor is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for exercise and help replenish glycogen stores used during workouts. Without carbs, you’ll feel tired sooner and have less endurance.
You also want to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an integral role in calcium metabolism and helps prevent osteoporosis.
Finally, you want to make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep allows our bodies to recover from the day and gives us time to process everything we’ve done. Lack of sleep leads to fatigue and decreased performance.
How Long Does it Take to Regain Muscle?
When you take a periodic break from training, muscle mass decreases(muscle atrophy), but it is feasible to recover what you’ve lost. Luckily there is a thing called muscle memory.
When you perform an exercise correctly the first time, you form a mental connection between the movement and the muscle groups being used.
As a result, performing the same strength training exercises again feels easier because your brain doesn’t have to rewire itself every time you pick up a dumbbell.
Your muscles themselves don’t store these memories; however, they’re full of neurons connected to the nervous system.
If you’re a professional athlete, your genes will recall your former exercise more quickly than if you were a “non-athlete.”
That being said, telling you exactly when you can expect to gain back lost muscle mass after some time without exercise is difficult.
It varies depending on too many factors, including your current fitness levels, your previous exercise habits, the length of your rest period, your diet before, throughout, and after your rest period, and your training schedule, intensity, and frequency for your return to exercise.
BUT, I know you guys want to hear a number.
On average, it will take half the time to recover your muscle mass than the length of your break.
PRO-TIP: Take it slow when you restart your fitness journey. Warm up, stretch, focus on form and the mind-muscle connection, get good quality rest, and eat healthily.
Generally speaking, you should always consider this tip, but when you come back from a break, it’s even more important than usual to act upon it. To get back into shape quickly and to prevent injury.
Will I lose muscle if I rest for 3 days?
No, you won’t lose muscle if you rest for 3 days. In the gym, you break muscle fiber, and when you rest at home, you’re (re) building and strengthening the muscle you trained. This can take between 48 and 72 hours; thus, a 3-day rest per trained muscle group is fine. I’d say that’s the average time you should give a muscle group rest to reap the maximum benefits of your workouts.
The great news is that you won’t lose any muscle if you don’t work out for two days. Even 2-week inactivity doesn’t lead to severe muscle mass loss.
Even better, if you’re looking to build muscle mass, you should take breaks from working out.
Try not to worry too much—you won’t lose any muscular strength or muscle when you rest. Instead, you’ll gain even more muscle because your muscles will have time to recover and grow stronger.
Take advantage of this recovery window and use these rest days to work harder next time.
Have you ever taken a break from your workout routine?
And did you lose any strength or muscle mass?
Please let me know in the comment section below.