Skipping a work-out every now and then; we all do it. But if you skip one work-out, it's easy to skip two or more after that, and before you know it, all that hard work has been for nothing. How long does it really take before your physical condition is back to zero?
It is important to make a distinction between experienced athletes and those who are just making their first steps in the world of exercise. Fanatic athletes are more lucky than the newbies (after all, they've worked harder to get where they are), because they regain their stamina and strength faster.
You start to lose strength after about two to three weeks of taking a break. However, there is a major BUT to this: are you resting because you are ill? In that case, loss of strength may set in faster. Being sick is very demanding to the human body, after all. In all the other cases you may cease to exercise for up to five weeks before you start to lose strength (excepting certain sport-specific muscles).
And what about your stamina? Sad to say, this story is a bit less optimistic. A recent study showed that already after four weeks of taking a break, a VO2max (the maximum oxygen intake that a person can transport and metabolize) decrease of about 20% takes place, On the other hand, stamina is easier to build up again than the muscles. Oof!
Your newfound powers are apparently not as fragile as you might initially think. A recent study showed that someone who exercised for four months and then took a break of six months, still possessed about 50% of the newly built muscle-mass. Another study even showed that test cases who took a break for three weeks, gained the same results as others in a 15-week weight exercise program.
But here too, the condition has decreased after a time of rest. Considerably, we might add. The effect and progress in your V02max completely disappears after one month of taking a break. So never let up, that's the message!