So I've been on a bit of a workout break lately. Balancing two kids home from school for the summer with my work responsibilities proved too difficult, and I knew something had to give. So what went was the only thing that was somewhat optional: My nearly daily workouts at the gym, at least until summer's over and I have more control over my time.
I didn't think I was doing too much damage; after all, it's only for a month or so and I'm still somewhat active in chasing two young children around and sometimes getting to yoga class. Um, ooops.
As it turns out, we fall back out of shape way sooner than I thought.
How long exactly? ...
You read that right, 14 days after you stop working out, and you drop back to your previous fitness level. My pedicures last longer.
Cardio goes first, then strength, thanks to good old muscle memory. The good news is that once you do drag your lazy butt into the gym, you'll recover your fitness a lot faster than someone with no exercise history at all. You'll need to scale back on intensity for awhile, but you won't be all the way back at square one, even if it's been a month or two. After three months, though, you'll have lost any fitness progress you've made and be back where you started.
If you're having trouble fitting exercise into your schedule, cut the time you exercise in half and ramp up the intensity. Twenty high-intensity minutes working out is better than zero and can be a lot more manageable to work in than 40.
If even that is laughably impossible, working out just once a week will maintain your fitness level until you can get back to a more regular schedule. It doesn't have to be the same day every week, either -- if sometimes 10 days go by and other times only five, that's fine, as long as you can get a workout in once a week and work out at a fairly high intensity.
How do you handle workout slumps?
Image via ~ggvic~/Flickr