What Happen If I take a week off exercise?


You might think your fi tness will hit reverse, but taking a break could be just what you need, says exercise physiologist Neil Russell.


Have you been yawning through your workouts recently? Taking a week off could help you fi nd your mojo again. “It’s normal to get a little bored with your exercise routine aft er a while,” says Neil. “A short hiatus can give your body and mind a much-needed break and help you come back in full force.” But, just because you’re not hitting the pavement, it doesn’t mean you should forget all your good habits! Keep your body well hydrated to ensure it’s in top shape for your big return.


Giving the gym a miss for a week could actually make you stronger. “When you’re constantly training, your neuromuscular system is slightly fatigued,” explains Neil. “Rest allows it to fully recover and achieve peak performance. Time off is important in any training program.” But Neil warns that a week off isn’t a licence to overindulge. “Don’t forget to eat plenty of lean protein, wholegrains and vegies to rebuild your muscles and help you avoid mindless snacking that can thwart your goals,” he says.


“Taking a week off will increase your total blood volume, which will give your muscles a better supply of oxygen and help clear byproducts of vigorous exercise,” says Neil. “This process helps endurance athletes rise to greatness and the rest of us recover from our regular training sessions. Gentle walks or swims are fine during your week off , but try to lay off the heavier workouts.”


Putting your feet up by the pool for a week will also boost your muscle glycogen levels and improve your anaerobic performance. “Think team sports and high-intensity workouts, especially HIIT,” says Neil. “Your muscles will be optimally set up to help you get through your sessions and you’ll even have some energy left in the tank. If you also focus on getting good quality sleep during your time off , you’ll hit the ground running when you return to training.”

You know when someone runs effortlessly past you on your morning walk or chats easily during a jog while you’re out of breath?” asks Neil. “That means that they have a high mitochondrial count, which is like having fully charged batteries spread around your body.  A week off training will increase this level and make you more energetic, so you’ll be able to work harder for less perceived effort.”

“Research shows that you start to lose muscle mass after about three weeks off working out,” says Neil. “If your fitness level isn’t that high to begin with, it could start to happen faster. Enjoy that time off, but make sure to get back to it!”


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