I m 25 years old and have been going to the gym for the past 3 years. Recently, I took 10 days off due to illness and noticed that I lost muscle. This happens whenever I take a break from the gym.

Why did this happen? How can I avoid this muscle loss during breaks in training?

  • 1
    Are you sure you lost muscle? This is really hard to measure. If your muscles look smaller, doesn't mean you lost any muscle mass - after exercising, they'll look much bigger due to increased hydration and such: if you've been going to the gym for a long time, you might just be used to seeing yourself like this. If you are still lifting the same (or very similar) weights as before, you didn't lose anything.
    – VPeric
    May 29, 2012 at 9:52
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    yeah u r right. i too feel like that..after finished my workup i feel my musles are looking good, after few hours its looks ordinary. Jun 4, 2012 at 18:42
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    @PrinceAntonyG there's no need to leave a comment to thank every on every answer, simply upvoting good answers is enough. Also, please try to use proper English. u is not you and r is not are
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 17, 2012 at 11:11

3 Answers 3


You won't be able to avoid muscle loss if you take signficant breaks from training. This is called deconditioning.

Illness will cause more loss than a simple break from training though, because your body may start to break down your muscle for energy. To avoid this, you need to try really hard to feed yourself well while you are sick.

Breaks are sometimes unavoidable, but in the long-run you should be still getting stronger, so don't worry too much.

Here are some ideas for how to avoid deconditioning during breaks:

  • do some exercise
  • if the break is due to injury, try crosstraining with a different activity
  • focus on nutrition
  • Should probably mention what constitutes "significant". According to this article (livestrong.com/article/…) you can start to lose muscle between 2 and 6 weeks of inactivity (though I can't find the study, I would imagine inactivity means exactly that, zero activity), closer to 2 weeks for trained athletes, longer for us mere mortals.
    – Dark Hippo
    May 9, 2016 at 12:17

Is common to lost your body shape if you stop training for like one week. So if u can try to do some simple exercise on each muscle group to keep ur muscle warm up unless u are sick or injured.

I went to Taiwan for a week and to keep my body shape i am doing push up, using my luggage as weight to do squad and deadlift. It isnt as heavy as the weight i carry for my gym training but it is enough to at least keep my muscle warm up at all time.


You're maintaining your muscle while resting after workouts. The resting period is when you're growing your muscle. NEVER overdo anything - i used to do it like that and wasn't worth it.

When you rest - take in protein rich foods or maybe some natural supplements and vitamins for speedy muscle growth and recovery.


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