How Long Does It Take To LOSE Muscle After A Layoff?

What’s up, guys? Sean Nalewanyj, on And in this video today I want to go over
the topic of muscle loss during a lay off. So maybe you have an injury, maybe you’re
traveling, maybe you have some family issues to take care of, maybe you just need a short
break to focus on work or school, either way how long does it take to lose muscle mass
during a period of inactivity. This is actually a really important topic,
I think, because a lot of people who take their fitness program seriously tend to get
overly stressed out by the idea of missing workouts. When in reality it’s usually not nearly as
big of a problem as you’d think. I used to think about this the same way, you
know, really neurotic about it. If I missed a workout I felt like I was doomed
and all my games were just going to fall off my body. But as I gained more experience and did more
research, I learned that that’s really not the case. Now, if you’re a competitive athlete with
a set deadline for some sort of competition or event, then obviously that’s different. Missing training sessions genuinely could
have a negative impact in that case, but for the average person who just trains recreationally
it actually takes a pretty decent length of time before any significant regression happens. And even if it does happen you’ll still regain
the muscle mass and strength that you lost pretty quickly once you get back into the
gym. Now, this is not meant to encourage anyone
to skip workouts. If you want to build a great physique then
long term consistency is absolutely key. But sometimes it’s just unavoidable and you
have no real choice, and so I want to explain here what you can realistically expect to
happen. So, to give a concrete answer here, assuming
you stopped all forms of training and you’re still eating roughly somewhere around your
maintenance calories and you’re getting in enough protein, at least around 0.8 grams
per pound of body weight daily which really isn’t a huge amount. Actual losses in lean muscle tissue probably
won’t kick in until about two full weeks of inactivity. Now, if your diet is complete crap and you’re
eating in a calorie deficit and you’re not getting in enough protein and it’s probably
going to happen faster than that. But assuming you still have a half-decent
diet in place about two weeks is probably what you’re looking at and that’s just in
order for the process to start. So that’s an important thing to keep in mind
here. Two weeks is when the process will start but
it’s still going to be fairly slow and gradual from week to week afterwards. So, even after two weeks, three weeks, four
weeks or more, if your diet is on point then, yeah, you definitely will lose some noticeable
muscle size and strength in that time. But the majority of your gains are still going
to be well intact, assuming you’ve been training for a decent period of time and you’ve made
some solid gains up to that point. So one really important mindset to apply here
is to remember that if all you’re doing is taking maybe one or two weeks away from the
gym it’s more of just a pause in your training. You’re not actually going to be going backwards. You’re basically just going to be staying
in the same spot. So there’s no real reason to get overly worked
up or stressed out about it. Now, what you probably will notice, though,
is that you won’t look quite as full or defined in the mirror. That’s definitely something that I’ve noticed
if we’re talking like ten to fourteen days away from the gym without any training at
all. However, that’s not the result of actual losses
in dry muscle mass, and instead it’s just from decreases in the amount of fluid and
glycogen being stored in the muscle and less inflammation in the tissue since you haven’t
been weightlifting. You’ll probably just look a bit smoother and
a bit flatter in general. Not to mention that psychological factors
can probably play a role here as well because it’s really easy to skew your own perception
of your body based on what you believe. So, if you feel smaller in your head because
you haven’t been training then chances are that when you look in the mirror you’re actually
going to see a smaller physique in your mind as well. So keep that in mind, too. It could just be your mind playing tricks
on you to some degree. But, yeah, your physique might look a bit
off but it’s not something to be alarmed by because, again, it’s not actual losses in
lean muscle tissue. And it’s very quickly reversible as well. The other thing you might notice if you take,
probably like a full two weeks off or slightly more, is that your strength might go down
a bit as well. Even that is not guaranteed but depending
on what your diet was like and other factors, it might go down slightly. Maybe like a rep or two on some lifts, maybe
five or ten pounds on those really big compound movements for the first workout back. But again, this isn’t a result of actual losses
in muscle tissue and instead it’s usually just from neurological adaptations. So keep in mind that strength isn’t just
a product of muscular strength but it’s also a learned motor skill as well. So if you’ve been out of the gym for a couple
of weeks or more, your body can become slightly less efficient at those movements since you
haven’t been doing them regularly and so your strength might go down slightly as a result. So, to sum this all up, two weeks without
inactivity and muscle loss will begin to kick in. And it will slowly decrease from week to week
after that. You might look a bit flatter in the mirror
but this is not actual muscle loss. And your strength might go down a bit, very
slightly, but this is also not from actual muscle loss. So as long as your diet is reasonable the
outlook is really not bad at all for short term training lay offs. And then the other very important thing to
consider here as well is that because of what’s called muscle memory, whatever losses in muscle
mass you do experience during that time are always going to come back at a much faster
pace than it took you to originally gain them. So without going into a bunch of detail here,
when you train with weights your body adds extra nuclei to your muscle cells and then
around those nuclei are smaller satellite cells that build up. And the number of nuclei within a muscle fiber
is one of the main factors that’s going to regulate just how big it can get. And when you go through a period of de-training
what happens is: the satellite cells atrophy but the additional nuclei stay in place. And so as soon as you begin training again
after a period of inactivity you’ll be able to rebuild that lost muscle mass a lot faster
since the basic foundation is still in place. But bottom line, if you have to take a bit
of time off from the gym don’t stress out. It takes two full weeks to start losing muscle
if your diet was decent. It’s a slow process from there forward and
you’ll regain what you lost pretty quickly anyway. Building a great physique is all about the
long term. It’s about the overall picture and small micro
breaks throughout the process are not going to be a big deal. So, I hope this was helpful. Make sure to hit that like button, leave a
comment and subscribe if it was. You can grab my complete step-by-step Body
Transformation Blueprint that lays out everything you need to know in terms of training, nutrition
and supplementation to gain muscle and lose fat as efficiently as possible by clicking
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box. Thanks for watching, guys. And I’ll talk to you again soon.


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