Will You Lose Muscle If You Skip Workouts?

  • 13 months ago
3 minute read.
Will You Lose Muscle If You Skip Workouts?

Are you worried that taking a break from your workout will cause you to lose your gains and diminish all the hard work you've put in? Perhaps you're dealing with an injury, a busy schedule, or a change in your workout routine, and you're wondering how long it takes to lose muscle mass.

We all know that exercising helps to build muscle, but did you know that when we stop exercising or reduce our activity levels, our muscles start to break down? This process, known as muscle catabolism, occurs when our bodies no longer receive the stimulus, they need to maintain muscle size and strength.

The rate of muscle loss depends on various factors such as genetics, age, diet, and activity level. In general, we expect to start losing some muscle mass within the first two weeks of inactivity. But, after two to four weeks of inactivity, we'll start to lose muscle mass at a more rapid rate, and after four weeks, significant muscle loss can occur.

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How long it takes to lose muscle mass?

Now, let's answer the question on everyone's mind: how long does it take to lose muscle mass? Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

After getting into a fitness routine, you might be concerned about losing your progress if you take time off. But taking a few days off from exercise is good for you and can help you achieve your fitness objectives in the long run.

But muscle mass can start to decline within a week or two of inactivity, and after three to four weeks of inactivity, muscle mass loss can range from 1-3% per week. However, this rate of loss may be higher in older adults due to age-related changes in muscle mass and strength.

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Factors that influence muscle mass loss

  1. Age: Muscle mass naturally decreases with age, a condition called sarcopenia. It typically starts in the 30s and progresses gradually from there. Research shows that older adults may lose muscle mass at a faster rate than younger individuals.
  2. Gender: Men typically have more muscle mass than women due to higher levels of testosterone. Therefore, men may experience slower muscle mass loss than women.
  3. Genetics: Some individuals may be predisposed to losing muscle mass more rapidly due to their genetic makeup.
  4. Diet: A well-balanced diet that includes sufficient protein intake is important for muscle maintenance. Inadequate protein intake may accelerate muscle loss.
  5. Physical activity level: Consistent physical activity, particularly resistance training, is crucial for maintaining muscle mass. A sedentary lifestyle or a significant decrease in physical activity can lead to muscle mass loss.
  6. Injury or illness: A period of injury or illness that prevents physical activity can lead to muscle mass loss. In some cases, muscle atrophy can occur due to certain medical conditions or medications.

It's important to note that muscle loss can be prevented or minimized through resistance training and a well-balanced diet that includes sufficient protein intake.

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How long it takes to Building Back Muscle?

While three weeks or less may appear to be a very short time for your gains to begin to fade, the good news is that the better shape you are in when the break begins the faster you will recover.

It is because your body is already trained to run, lift, and perform other strenuous activities. The genes in the affected muscles "remember" muscular growth. Even after a long break, when you begin training those muscles again, the genes respond faster than genes in previously unused muscles.

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What happens if you skip a workout for 1-2 weeks / 3-4 weeks / 2-3 months?

Time Frame

Cardiovascular Endurance

Strength and Muscle Mass


Weight Gain

1-2 weeks

May decrease slightly

May experience slight loss

May decrease slightly


3-4 weeks

May decrease noticeably

May experience loss

May decrease noticeably


2-3 months

May decrease significantly

May experience significant loss

May decrease significantly



Muscle loss is an inevitable consequence of inactivity, but the rate of muscle loss varies depending on several factors. However, by eating enough protein, staying active, and using resistance bands or bodyweight exercises, you can maintain your muscle mass while taking a break from exercising.

So don't worry too much about losing muscle mass during an exercise break. Just remember to eat well, stay active, and keep moving, and you'll be back to your usual routine in no time!

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