Today I received a question from Dave.
Hey Justin, I will be travelling home to Ireland to visit family over the Xmas for 2 weeks, so won’t be doing any weight training until I go back to the gym. My question is, “Can you lose muscle if you stop lifting weights for a few weeks?
Good question Dave.
It only makes sense to take a week off, every 6-7 weeks, for your muscles to recover and repair after intensive weight training.
But obviously, if you take too much time out from the gym, you will begin to lose any muscle mass you have worked hard for previously.
Although, not everyone can make it to the gym everyday, especially days just leading up to Christmas.
I noticed that there were only a small number of people at my gym between the 20th-23rd of December compared to any other time of the year. It’s very quiet at this time of the year but, In January, it’s a different story altogether!
I go to the gym 5-6 days a week, so my last workout before Christmas was on the 23rd of December. So I won’t return to training until the 27th of December.
Most public gyms close for a couple of days around that time of the year.
But to answer your question, taking some time off from your workouts can actually be good for recovery and can even help you gain muscle.
But if you are one of these people who trains for a few weeks, then takes a few weeks or months off, then yes, you are going to lose any muscle you have gained.
But if you have been working out consistently for three to four days a week, for more than six months, the your body needs one week off to repair itself.
If you have been training for a few years and take a few weeks off for whatever reason, you will definitely lose muscle mass but not all of it.
You’re not going to lose much muscle if you stop lifting weights for two weeks, but you are more likely to lose muscle as well as strength if you go without training for several weeks or months.
Muscle Loss Depends on Weight Training Experience
Let’s say you have been weight training for a year or more, those two weeks you take off are not going to make much of a difference when it comes to how much muscle mass you have.
You won’t lose muscle mass if you are on high protein diet and you have several years experience lifting weights.
You might feel less of a pump than how you normally feel after weight training, but that’s only because you haven’t put any stress on your muscles since your last trained them.
How Muscle Memory Works
Anybody who has been involved in weight training for several years is familiar with the concept of muscle memory.
So, lets say you return to weight training after several months of years, you will have no problem rebuilding any muscle or strength you lost during your time off.
Just like any skill you learn through practice and repetition over an extended period of time, your brain never forgets any exercise that you have done over and over again.
The same is true when you learn how to swim, play a musical instrument or driving a car.
So if you are thinking it’s going to take you forever to get back to where you were before, it’s not, your muscles will come back within a couple of weeks of training hard.
That’s the great thing about muscle memory.
First of all, your muscles get big and strong because they adapt to the stress of the weight you lift.
I have been weight training for over 10 years now, so even if I stopped weight training for a month, and started eating lots of junk food without tracking calories, I would gain body fat but I wouldn’t lose a lot of muscle mass.
If I stopped training for a year, I would most likely lose muscle mass, but it would be much easier for me to rebuild that muscle once I start training again.
If you have only been training for 2-3 months, you will definitely lose muscle mass if you take more than 2 weeks off. That’s why, I recommend staying active with your workouts.
You can always do body-weight exercises, such as push-ups or pull ups at home that will help prevent any muscle loss.
But like I said before, If you are training consistently, you will need that rest to recover a grow so that you can come back stronger and better than before.
I hope this post answered your question “Can you lose muscle if you stop lifting weights“. Please leave your comments below if you have anymore questions. I would also love to hear your thoughts on this article.
Just remember, you don’t need to train every single day of the week. One hour training, three to four days a week is enough as long as you put enough intensity into each session.
Would you like to pack on 10-15 lbs of solid muscle just training for 1 hour a day, just 4 days a week?
Well you can with my latest workout program 4 Day Split Maximum Muscle Workout Routine.