What is “Detraining”? Can it Happen to Me?

Even the most serious of athletes can experience something called, “the detraining effect,” which is when the body loses both muscle and aerobic fitness due to a prolonged time of sedentary behavior.  As mentioned in a previous post about detraining, the detraining period of time can occur anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.  Luckily, the fitter you are, the longer it will take for your body to undergo the detraining effect.  For example, the phrase “use it or lose it” doesn’t exactly apply to a conditioned athlete.  A conditioned athlete (one who trains at least 2-3x every week) can take off from exercise for as long as three months – and still retain half of their original level of athletic conditioning.  Then again, losing half of your fitness level isn’t exactly something to aspire to, and is easily avoidable.  According to recent research (Aug 2011) by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning, those who partake in any form of endurance or resistance training over an “off period,” whether it’s during a holiday/vacation or resting from injury, observe training-specific improvements in their physical performance and body composition.  As expected, resistance training maintains better gains in strength for more prolonged periods after ceasing exercise than endurance training.  Bottom line: if you need to take off from exercise, best to incorporate small bouts of light cardio and resistance training to avoid the effects of detraining.  This week’s “M-Corner Theme” focuses on sedentary negatives.  Check out tomorrow’s post about how such behaviors can affects appetite.

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