How Fast do you Lose It?
Losses occur fastest during the first three weeks of slacking
Days 1 – 2 After last day of training
Adrenaline and beta-endorphin levels drop. Your mood is affected negatively, but your body stays intact. Aerobic and power capabilities are the same.
Days 3 – 5
Your muscles become tight from disuse and your flexibility is decreased. Touching your toes and other activities involving flexibility become more difficult and are often painful. Your aerobic capabilities are decreased 5% by fifth day off.
You feel out of breath when just walking up a flight of stairs
Days 7 – 9
You begin to have trouble sleeping and your attention span is shorter. Paying attention in class becomes more difficult. The body’s ability to use oxygen (your V02 max) drops by 10%. Less oxygenated blood is pumped with each heartbeat.
Your body’s metabolic rate has begun to drop. You see added pounds.
Days 11 – 12
Your maximum heart rate and cardiac output is falling. Your ability to perform endurance activities declines by 15%. Your muscle tone is disappearing.
You feel sluggish and unable to perform normal daily activities as well as before.
Days 14 -16
Mitochondrial activity (energy production) in your muscle cells decreases. This causes you to feel lazy and without energy. This decreased cellular energy production also causes a continual drop in your metabolic rate. Your body feels soft.
Days 17 – 19
Your body becomes less efficient at sweating and cooling itself off. You can not get rid of excess heat as easily and your body gets tired just trying to stay cool. Your muscles are getting less oxygen and your heart pumps less blood with each heart beat.
Days 20 – 21
Your V02 max has dropped by 20%. Your body’s ability to use oxygen has decreased by a fifth and simple aerobic tasks now leave you breathless.
Days 22 – 25
With the decrease in aerobic conditioning by 25%, you are also experiencing a decline in your anaerobic capabilities. Activities that involve short bursts of energy, such as weight lifting or sprints, become increasingly difficult and painful. You have lost 15-20% of your muscle mass and that lost mass is replaced with fat.
You notice very obvious loss of muscle mass and your once hard muscles are soft.
Days 27 – 28
It would now be impossible for you to perform the aerobic and anaerobic activities that were a regular part of your training. Huge decreases have occurred.
Days 29 – 30
Your muscle strength has now declined by 30% and atrophy has set in. Loss of muscle mass means lower resting metabolism. Lifting previous weight is impossible.
…And beyond the first month
Within 2 – 4 months, practically all gains from V02 max training are lost. Your sports-specific skills deteriorate and the rowing motion now feels awkward. Your muscle strength erodes by 40% and all muscle definition is gone.
The Breakdown Rate The exact rate at which you slide down hill to baseline (sedentary fitness level) is determined by your genetics, the shape you were in when you stopped exercising, and how long you had been fit. It may not seem fair, but the fitter you are, the faster you loose the benefits of working out. On the other hand, fitter people don’t fall apart quite as much or to the same degree as sedentary people (couch potatoes). Moderately fit people show little change in the first weeks, but their capacities do decrease in subsequent weeks to a higher degree that the fitter athletes.
What does this all mean? Do not wait for you winter crew training program or other winter sports to start before you begin training. Continue training to maintain all the aerobic and anaerobic gains you have made this fall with daily training and weekend races. Continue to gain endurance and strength!