One day you were hitting F45 daily, the gym twice a week, and running laps of Bondi to Bronte every weekend. Now you find yourself glued to your computer thinking about how far away the fridge is. The joys of self-isolation.
Whether you can’t workout because your neighbours complain, or whether you simply can’t motivate yourself to work up a sweat at home, you may now find yourself in the unfortunate position of thinking: “I wonder how long it will take me to get out of shape?”
If you’d like to see how to kick your arse into gear (whether by tricking your body into wanting to work out or by reading about the best self-isolation workouts), then hit our fitness section. If you simply have a morbid curiosity about what’s going to happen to your rig, read on.
First up: muscles. As fitness trainer Hammad Ahmed recently took to Instagram to explain, how long it takes to lose your gains will depend on how long you have had them: “The average time before muscle loss occurs is 2-3 weeks. Strength can be maintain for up to 4 weeks before it starts to decline,” he wrote.
“This is if you’re someone who is trained. If you were only training for a little bit and are now taking time off, you won’t have the same turn around.”
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Hammad then discussed “the science of detraining,” explaining how “Your muscle fibers get bigger from training and subsequently gain more nuclei. Once you stop training, your nuclei don’t decrease that quickly. the nuclei help resist muscle loss. This is what we call ‘muscle memory.'”
As for the point where muscle loss occurs? “3-8 weeks is where the decline occurs,” Hammad says. Then, in order to retrain, it’s a similar story: someone who has been at a high level of fitness for an extended period of time will get it back quicker than someone who had only just got there.
“The science of retraining. Once it’s been about 2-3 weeks you can retrain and make your gains back fairly quickly in comparison to someone who has no training history. You won’t need to go through the process of forming new nuclei.”
Then, when it comes to cardiovascular fitness, let us turn to Carly Ryan from Exercise and Sports Science Australia, who told Medibank something very similar to what we just heard from Hammad about muscle.
“We know that the less active you are, the quicker the loss. For example, people who are bed bound can see significant loss of muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness in just one week. If you are still active in your daily activities the loss will be slower,” Carly told Medibank.
“Age, gender, and the reason you’ve stopped exercising are also factors to consider. Meaning the effects of deconditioning due to inactivity will vary from person to person,” (Medibank).
Breaking it down as simple and general as possible, you’re looking at 1-2 weeks for cardio loss, and 2-3 weeks for strength loss.
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Your workout awaits.