Does a week or two of missed training undo all the hard work?

August 10th, 2010
By Paul Cribb Ph.D. CSCS.
Filed Under: Research

You’ve decided to take that promotion, there’s a new addition to the family or some other lifestyle change that will mean a few busy weeks, and quite a few missed workouts.

Most gym-junkies stress about missing one workout, let alone a week or two. The insipid thought of losing hard-earned strength and muscle or even worse, gaining body fat! It does their heads in.

However, sometimes in life these circumstances are unavoidable. Does a week or two of missed training undo all the good work?

Well gym-junkies take heart, research shows if people take the right approach, they can maintain their physiques for 3 to 6 weeks, without training!

A novel investigation by researchers at Penn State University examined the effects a stint of no training.

The researchers measured strength, power performance and body composition (muscle and body fat) as well as blood hormone levels.

Most importantly, this study used experienced gym-goers – people with a history of consistent workouts.

The scientists assessed strength (1-RM in the squat and bench press), body composition (skinfold and girth) and blood regularly while the participants did not exercise for six weeks.

The eye-opening result was that compared to an equally matched group that kept training, those that did not train showed no significant changes in most of the parameters assessed.

For example, there was no significant decline in strength, muscle mass and blood hormone profiles.

No significant changes in body composition either.

How could that be?

Simply because these athletes were instructed to keep consuming their nutritious eating plans – they didn’t deviate from quality eating and supplementation.

The biggest reason why most people lose their great results and pack-on weight during a training lay-off isn’t due to the missed workouts.

It’s simply due to the fact that, right along with the workouts, their regimented/organized nutrition plan goes out the window.

When most people find themselves in a situation where they can’t exercise, they turn to the comfort (junk) food and their nutritious way of eating really deteriorates.

The take home message here is that people who train consistently need not fear one, two or even three weeks of interrupted training. If you find yourself in a position where you can’t exercise as much as you’d like to, simply focus more on your nutrition plan.

Don’t neglect meal frequency, that means the right proteins, carbs and fats in every meal and keep up supplementation.

When you pay closer attention to your nutrition, you’ll be amazed how little you lose from not training, and, how rapidly you regain once you commence training again.

Source: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

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