How fast muscle is lost, balancing time off and recovery

curls at World Gym

It’s recommended to take one day off a week from exercise and one week off every few months of intense consistent workouts. When I was knocked down with the flu, in two weeks I lost five pounds; my trainer said it was muscle loss. Sure enough, he was right. Lack of exercise can result in “…significant loss of strength in just two weeks” (1). People who were active but took time off for fourteen days “…lost 25% of their strength,” lost muscle, and gained weight (1).

“Signs of overtraining include exhaustion and fatigue, insomnia, moodiness, decreased performance, lack of appetite and muscle soreness” (2).  I‘ve been weight training four to five days a week for a year straight. No wonder I have two of the symptoms above, waking up in the middle of the night with trouble going back to sleep, and lack of appetite.

Go ahead a take a short break from your regular routine, but make sure to do some other activity in its place. I’m skipping weight training this week and am looking forward to doing some relaxing yoga but I’m going to miss my gym friends!

Photo: Me, banging out the last set of curls at World Gym.


  1. Prevention Magazine, November 2015 issue, pg 79, article titled, “The Easy Way to Keep your Muscles.”
  2. On-line article: “How often you should take time off from the gym” written by Danielle DeSimone

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