If your fitness goal is building or toning muscle, you can actually benefit from taking some time off from exercising. Why? Because muscle repairs, tones and builds itself during your recovery period (the time between your workouts) and not during your workouts themselves.
Take a Day Off Per Week
So from a weekly standpoint, you should take at least one day off. Some people like to exercise for six straight days, doing cardio four days and strength training two days per week. Just ensure you don’t do strength training two days in a row, unless you work different muscle groups. Other people like to take their day off mid-point through their weekly routine. When you take your day off is up to you, but make sure you get at least one day off per week.
What Doesn’t Change from an Extended Break
But what if your break extends for a longer period of time – say for a week or two-week vacation? Muscles are resilient, but it still takes them time to adjust to a change whether that change is a new routine or a break from exercising. The bottom line is your fitness level won’t change much, if at all, if you don’t hit the gym while on an extended break from the gym.
What about the extra food we all tend to eat while on vacation? That won’t hurt you either. As a matter-of-fact, it will help replenish your energy stores that you usually burn up when exercising – fill your tank back up if you will.
What Can Change
When you start back up, you may have to drop back on your training intensity just a little and then gradually build back up to the point you were before your break. But as far as loss of definition or muscle mass, no you won’t notice any difference.
But what you can lose during an extended break is motivation – the desire to start back up again. Consistent exercising is a habit – one that is easy to maintain when doing it on a frequent basis. But not exercising can become a habit too, also especially after not doing it for two weeks.
So getting back into the exercising groove after an extended break can be tough and has everything to do with your state of mind and nothing to do with your physical condition. Hard core exercisers will have an easier time getting back to exercising.
It is the “recreational” exercisers that can find it hard to regain their motivation and momentum. View your time away from the gym once or twice a year as a well-deserved break, but like all breaks, they must end and you revert back to your normal routine.