Detraining is the termination of exercise and is a huge concern for
professional athletes who get injured.
There’s always this fear looming
overhead that makes you believe everything you’ve gained from
years of exercising will be lost in a matter of weeks.
This fear is manifested in careless acts such as running under a
blizzard or pushing through with one’s regular routine despite a
The truth is, the effects of detraining are not manifested as
soon as you may think.
Studies have shown that the rate at which many fitness elements go down
are about the same as the rate at which they increase.
One of the most common myths we hear about people
who stop exercising is that their “muscles will turn into
This is physiologically impossible, as muscle cells and fat
cells are totally different from each other and are structured in
Neither could fat cells “disappear” when exercising and
“reappear” during detraining.
What does happen, though, is that muscle cells could atrophy
over time and fat cells grow bigger when it is not burned in exercise.
The ill effects of the cessation of exercise also
depend on the following factors:
- Your level of fitness prior to detraining;
- The fitness aspect involved (flexibility,
strength, endurance, flexibility, etc.); and
- The preventive measures you adopt.
It’s crucial to take preventive measures because although there are
no drastic changes to the state of your fitness in the first few days,
over the weeks, detraining becomes a health concern.
One of the changes you’d initially notice is tiring easily after a
long walk or a stair climb. There would also be a drop in overall
energy level, heart fitness, flexibility, and muscle strength if you’re
waylaid for about ten weeks.
Additionally, all of the calories you now couldn’t burn
would be stored as fat.
As your weight increases,
so would your resting heart rate, cholesterol level, and your blood
And what of the factors that can’t easily be measured?
A few of the psychological effects of detraining are depression,
mood swings, and a drop in confidence levels. Remember how endorphins,
the feel-good hormones, increase during exercise? You’ll definitely
feel their effects (or lack of them) during detraining.
What you can do about it:
It’s much easier to do something about the situation
if your detraining
is due to injury. If it’s due to laziness, then that’s another story!
Below are a few suggestions on how you can compensate for the absence
of a regular workout:
- Do a couple of weight training
sessions each week.
Research has shown that muscle mass and strength can be maintained by
just having one weight training session every week.
recommended for those who detrain because of a hectic schedule. Resume
your regular sessions as soon as possible.
- To prevent gaining weight due to caloric
consumption, calculate the
approximate amount of calories you used to burn with exercise, and reduce
your caloric intake by that same amount.
- If you have been doing aerobic workouts, you
can cut the usual duration and frequency by half but exercise
at the same intensity in order to arrest any loss of