Physical activity is a natural thing and it is good for us – we know that much. But at times exercise stops being that amusing. That’s right, chasing a fitness goal can be a real struggle and a tiring undertaking. When it happens, taking a break from exercise instead of pushing yourself to the limit is a wise decision. Hitting the pause button may be just what your body needs to rest, recover, tank more energy and regain motivation.

Great news, but you for sure have further questions:

How long it takes to lose progress

flexing biceps

How many days can you go without working out? Statistics goes back and forth about the exacts figures. But in general, everyone agrees that it takes around 2 months of complete inactivity to lose all of your hard-earned progress. However, if you are a toned-up exerciser and a regular at the gym, you may experience far more rapid changes in your fitness if you suddenly drop off from training. It’s peculiar that developed endurance and gained muscle strength won’t go anywhere for weeks or even months.

When it’s okay to take a break from exercise

Falling off your fitness wagon from time to time is not a bad thing and won't hurt your progress. Many serious athletes prove that it’s a good thing to take a break from working out—they show most amazing results right after a scheduled week off from their training. A period of seven days is not something that will undo all of your hard work.

cardio bunnies

Also, there are times when it’s essential that you take time off exercise. Don’t push it any further away if you experience the following:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Muscle soreness that won't go away
  • Lack of progress for a long time
  • Shortness of breath
  • Injury
  • Boredom
  • You’re tired of the same fitness routine
  • You’re feeling under the weather
  • You’re not enthusiastic about exercise
  • You don’t feel motivated

Taking a couple of days or a whole week off will help you rediscover your lost vigor and enthusiasm or fully recover from an illness or an injury.

Skipping intensive workouts should not turn you into a coach potato. You can still try to remain active and choose from a variety of at-home activities you’ve never had the time for or simply try something as simple as walking. Exercising doesn’t always have to mean intensive gym workouts. It can be fun just moving around or trying one of the following activities:

  • Yoga and meditation
  • Evening strolls
  • Light stretching
  • Passing a frisbee back and forth
  • Toting your groceries
  • Leisurely doing house chores
  • Light jogging

running couple

How do I reboot my workouts?

It’s important to do everything right and with minimum losses on your way back to fitness. The nature of your comeback will fully depend on the reason for your workout break or the time you’ve been missing from the gym.

Make a full recovery

If an illness or an injury held you back from training, it’s important that your doctor gives you the green light to restart training. Listen closely to the signals you body might be giving you. Should anything health-related still be bothering you, don’t postpone a visit to your doctor.

Don’t skip the warmup

Treat each warmup as your best friend. For someone making a comeback they are twice as important because of a much higher risk of injury. They are your insurance against strains.

Ease into your workouts

It’s important not to overtrain. Try a lighter version of the routine you followed before. And in case you took a long break from exercise, start with the beginner program. When you start all over again your body may play make-believe that you are capable of some extraordinary workouts. Don’t fall for that. Here’s the deal: when you took time off your muscles and joints have lost their elasticity, and your body’s range of motion can be somehow restricted.

workout break

Don’t spread yourself too thin

Working out twice or, in some cases, once a week is enough in the beginning. Resist the temptation to go at the same pace you used to. Otherwise you can badly injure your body, and your progress will be pushed even further backwards.

Level up your training when your muscle begin to feel pleasantly sore, the exercises get easier and basic movements are no longer challenging.

Have patience

There is a chance you won’t get back to your previous fitness level in the blink of an eye. The time it takes to get back on track is proportional to the time you have skipped. If you missed only a week, it will take you next to nothing to go back where you left off. Slow down during a couple of trainings and that’s it. However, if you dropped out of training for a year or so, you’ll need to go at half-strength and half-speed compared to what you used to.

Stick to a plan

Coming back from a longer timeout can be a tricky thing. Carefully plan out your comeback, especially when returning from an injury or an illness. Work out a systematic return to the previous fitness level. Accept help from a medical professional if needed. Because your doctor knows better than anyone how to get you back in the game.

Getting your mojo back is not an impossible thing to do, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Regardless of the duration of your break, carefully work your way back by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts until you return to where you started.

Written by Volha Zaitsava
Volha is a writer and Wellness Editor at Verv. She is a big believer that the only healthy way to approach fitness and nutrition is through self-care and...
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