Taking a Break: Time to Recover Physically & Regain Strength?

Man sitting with chiropractor helpingGetting sick, being hurt or simply needing a break are all valid factors to occasionally need time far from your workout regimen. However in some cases these breaks last longer than we prepare for and many of us stress that we’ll lose all the strength we worked so hard during our workouts to build and end up drawing back at a fresh start. This break time can range from time to take a rest day to about 4 weeks of a period to take a break being essential and unlikely to cause strength loss. It may help to know how rest and exercise are related, and how to get the most out of your routine.

Signs it’s Time to Take a Break

When it comes to exercise, the most important step is that you remember to listen to your body. If you experience continual and worsening muscle soreness, a lot of fatigue, or you know you have experienced injury already. You may be overtraining, or running the risk of injury even worse.

Other reasons for taking a rest can include the inability to work out due to other plans, you are planning to fast for a long period, failure to get sleep, or even you are experiencing stress from life in general that negatively impacts your active life. While staying active like this is important and essential to your well-being, you’ll find that a lot of stress burdening you can impact the quality of your workout.

Stress is a potentially serious factor related to the physical health of many individuals. It’s sometimes a cause of fatigue, heightened soreness when you train, or even an increased risk of injury. If you suffer from a lot of stress, allow yourself to not just recover physically, but rest your way into better mental health even if you cut down to simply a few hours of walking per week, and get some good hours of sleep. When you resume your workout mentally refreshed, you may find your performance heightened.


If you have simply decided to take a rest day and allow your body time for recovery, this will not effect your strength. Working out will require time for tissue repair and recovery, or your body to produce a growth hormone during rest that builds your muscles back up after your exercise, and your body replenishes its energy stores. For this reason, it’s important to avoid exercise in the one exact same muscle groups two days in a row.

Skipping your workouts for multiple weeks can be a different story, and many fear losing strength during this period. We have reviewed some studies and observations about what people have found related to taking a fitness break and how it has impacted their performance when they returned to train again.


Knowing how much recovery time and rest your body needs is a question you may want to face, especially if you’re experiencing signs that your body needs more extensive recovery and rest. Or maybe you have plans that could temporarily stop your ability to work out on your usual routine. These two reasons for allowing a few rest days may be very different, but with the right planning, you’re likely to have a good way to allow some recovery for either reason without impeding your high performance when you return to your workout again.

Determine the Amount of Rest to Allow Your Body

Getting some recovery and a few rest days can be good for your body, and it’s perfectly normal, and the exact number of rest days or even weeks that will be ideal varies. This can depend on how intensively you had trained prior to the break, whether or not you suffered injury, how active you plan to stay during these rest days, and what other recovery you have recently taken, the condition of your body generally, and a number of other factors.


It’s safe to say taking a healing day is considered best practice for an accountable routine. So, while a day is terrific, how about a week? What about a month? How quickly do you lose strength when you stop workouts?

When Strength Loss Usually Occurs

The answer may not be as fast as you think: “Most specialists concur that big losses in strength don’t happen for about 3 months, with smaller sized, less considerable losses starting around 3-4 weeks,” states personal trainer Ashleigh Kast, a NASM performance improvement specialist. These specialists have tips people think are good to follow, us included.

An evaluation published in Sports Medicine, for example, discovered elite rugby and football games might go 3 weeks without training prior to their strength levels started to decrease. Likewise, research on non-athletes found they were also able to take three weeks off from training without seeing any declines in strength or muscle mass.

Man in an extreme stretching position

Strategy for Restoring Strength

Even if you need to take as long as 3 months off from workouts, felt confident it won’t take you too long to exercise and restore your strength specifically if you were to train consistently prior to your hiatus.

Exactly how long it requires to regain your strength is tough to say, because it takes more than muscular strength to pull off a workout. For instance, if you might deadlift 300 pounds for 6-7 reps, and after that you took three months off from training, you may still have the ability to lift 300 pounds when you go back to training simply not for 6-7 reps.

Similarly, if you could do 15 pullups prior to your three-month break, you might probably knock out a number of pullups when you hop up to the bar once again, however you may have to work back up to 15. Be careful to avoid overtraining in this case, as this could cause injury and lead to the need for more time to recover.


The factor actually has a bit less to do with a loss of strength as it does a loss of endurance. “Doing pullups includes much more than your muscles, it likewise includes cardiovascular capacity, especially if you enter the higher associates,” states Dr. Laith Jazrawi, teacher of orthopedic surgery and chief of the sports medication department at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center.

As you do more reps of an exercise, your body develops waste products like lactic acid in the muscle. With more time to train, your body ends up being more efficient at cleaning out the waste items so you can finish your associates without blowing over, but if you don’t work out for a while, it takes a little time to develop up that endurance once again, Jazrawi states.

See, cardiovascular fitness is a thing to consider first that may go when you stop working out, with obvious declines occurring within 4 weeks. For instance, a current study exposes 4 weeks of training led leisure marathon runners to lose approximately 3.6% of blood volume, which other research suggests might be the main cause for early losses in cardiovascular capability. Just keep in mind that how quickly you lose and gain back cardiovascular physical fitness may depend on for how long you’ve trained.


When it concerns strength, nevertheless, you’ll usually keep it for a lot longer, and be able to restore it relatively rapidly. The factor: Your muscles “remember” the prior adaptations they made from strengthening workouts and can get back up to speed more quickly than it took to develop those adjustments in the very first place.

Although it’s tough to offer a concrete timeframe, you may have the ability to gain back the strength lost from 3 months you had trained in just a couple of months. One study discovered elderly males who paused their training for 12 weeks had the ability to restore the strength they ‘d lost (approximately 35%) in simply eight weeks.

Senior man doing squats


If you’re rebooting your strength-training regimen after a hiatus, begin with lighter weights or fewer associates (if doing bodyweight exercises) than you’re utilized to. Increase the weight slowly to give your tendons time to restore their elasticity.

See, you’re unlikely to simply lose strength in your muscles when you take a prolonged break from lifting; you also lose elasticity in your tendons (these attach muscle to bone). When your tendons are elastic, they’re much better able to produce and help soak up force throughout high-impact motions, such as sprints, plyometrics and heavy weight training.

According to Jazrawi, some patients go right back to lifting heavy weights while their tendons are still stiff: “That’s where the risk of tearing or breaking,” he states. So, whatever you do, don’t attempt to pick up where you left off.

Knowing What Your Body Says

Like any other thing, your health can be effect and observed by simply paying attention to your body. If your tissue and muscles are sore, you’re feeling tired and in need of sleep, or you feel nervous about going too hard after an injury, then usually one rest day or more is best. A good health professional like those we have reviewed here usually says you can trust the signs of your body and make your best judgement about how hard to push yourself.


Depending on how you feel, whether you are sore, weak, or tired and needing sleep, you may simply need to refrain from working out for a day. Resuming the process in the following days when you feel stronger, get better sleep, and will perform better makes sense. Also be aware if you’re needing more days of rest and repair your muscle tissue if you feel sore for a very long time. You may find that your strength is not significantly diminished, like the studies we’ve reviewed show.


You are committed to your workout routine, and you should be! Pain is weakness leaving the body. Sweat is the body rejoicing for more pain. Fitness builds up the temple that houses the soul. But remember that periods of rest and repair for your muscle tissue, like good quality sleep every day, are an essential part of successful exercise and fitness. Recovery isn’t a thing to neglect, it’s a way to help your exercise be more effective and make you feel good throughout the process of growing stronger. Know when to get a rest day, or when to have some rest for longer than one day.

References and Sources:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Sex-related differences in Sports Medicine: Bone Health and Stress Fractures https://www.aaos.org/aaosnow/2019/sep/clinical/clinical01/

Bodysport. https://www.bodysportproducts.com

Blog.Bible. https://comfortrac.net/

Everyday Health. The Intimate Relationship Between Fitness and Sleep https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/intimate-relationship-between-fitness-sleep/

Healthline. Exercise Rest Day: Benefits, Importance, Tips, and More https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/rest-day#benefits

Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms

Medical News Today. Are Chiropractors Doctors? 5 Truths and Myths https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322038#certifications

New York Ortho. Dr Laith Jazrawi – Orthopaedic Elbow Surgeon in New York https://www.newyorkortho.com/

Posture Pump. https://posturepump.com/

Pronex. https://www.rsmedical.com/pronex

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September 23, 2019