Here's How Rapidly You Start to Lose Muscle Once You Stop Lifting Weights
If you think taking a break from working out doesn't make a clear difference in your strength, you're wrong. My first gym session after a trip to Barcelona, where the only exercise I did was walking (and eating paella), was a struggle. The barbell I used to pick up with ease suddenly felt way heavier. (I actually triple checked to make sure I hadn't accidentally grabbed the wrong barbell — nope.) You may know the feeling. Returning to the gym after an extended break can be brutal.
"Unfortunately, exercise is truly 'use it or lose it.' If you stop strength training, you'll likely notice decreased strength (making it harder to perform daily activities), energy loss, impaired balance, and weight gain in as little as 3-4 weeks," Meghan Nagel, manager of fitness programming at Virtual Health Partners, told POPSUGAR. "Your muscles may also feel less firm and 'toned' when you stop lifting." (That sound you hear is me screaming "whyyyyy?" into the weight room abyss.)
To find out what happens to your body when you stop strength training, POPSUGAR spoke to Nagel and Dr. Jacqueline Schaffer, board-certified MD, bestselling author of Irresistible You, and founder of Schique Skincare. Here's what they had to say.