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For every day off, for example, what percentage of your overall fitness level decreases?

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It's going to vary from individual to individual. Most people can take 7-10 days off with no appreciable drop in fitness. After that, the general rule of thumb that I learned in college and has been borne out in experience, is that you lose 2 for 1 after that.

So, if you are out three days past whatever your particular threshold is, it will take you 6 to get back to your original starting point.

Also, (And again, this is personally dependent), if you are out for 30+ days, you are generally considered to be detrained, and starting over somewhat from scratch. You will progress more rapidly back to fitness than someone that hasn't been fit, however, and the length of time that you originally did whatever sport you are in also reduces that. So if you have been a runner for 15 years, and take a few months off, you will get back to your baseline much faster than someone that has never been a runner.

Age also plays a factor, in that as you get older, it takes a bit longer to get back to where you were, and depending on length of time out, how old you are, injuries, etc., you may not get back completely to your original starting point.

I think there is a question on the site that addresses it both from a fitness and a neuromuscular standpoint, if I can find it I will link it.

Not completely the one I was looking for, but: For how long can I stop doing cardio training before losing my endurance?

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    A lot of this also depends on which aspect of fitness we are talking about. For example it takes a lot longer to lose muscle mass than it does to lose cardiovascular conditioning. It happens, just at a slower rate. That's one reason why you have to hold yourself back when you get back in the gym after 3 or more weeks off. – Berin Loritsch Nov 6 '14 at 17:16
  • Here's a couple relevant articles: naturallyintense.net/blog/exercise/… healthyliving.azcentral.com/… – Berin Loritsch Nov 6 '14 at 17:24
  • @JohnP, when I started running 5 years ago I couldn't run 5 minutes without having to stop. I haven't lost weight in that time, but I can now run 60 minutes continuously. If I'm sick for 1 month, will I not be able to run 5 minutes again the next time I go on the treadmil? – Kenshin Nov 7 '14 at 4:51
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    @Mew - Probably not. You now have 5 years of base running, so your 5 minute set point has probably changed. You've had muscle and neural adaptation that would make what you can do at a stretch when untrained more than it used to be. I would guesstimate that if you took a month completely off, you would be somewhere around 15-20 mins you could run continuously, and you could do 1 hour with some walk breaks. – JohnP Nov 7 '14 at 16:04

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