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How long does it take to lose muscle mass during an exercise break?

It would not be uncommon for those who exercise regularly to worry about losing strength and cardiovascular fitness if they take a break from training, so when does strength and fitness degrade? The rate of loss largely depends on pre-break fitness levels. In most cases, strength doesn't tend to be affected until after a 3–4-week break. Aerobic fitness is lost a lot faster, and this can happen in just a few days. A 3-4 week break from cardiovascular training can lead to a decrease in endurance by as much as 4 to 25 per cent.

As we age, it becomes increasingly harder to maintain muscle mass and strength. This loss is due to hormonal changes in the body where either oestrogen or testosterone reduce, making it harder to maintain a consistent level of strength and stability.

After a break from training, athletes are able to return back to former fitness levels faster than non-athletes, and this down to muscle memory, as well as having a possible genetic influence. Taking breaks from training is a positive move, and you're more likely to peak in your fitness after a break from exercise.


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