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Why Your Workout Feels Harder After a Weeklong Break from the Gym

by Lisa Payne - November 16, 2018

Regular exercise is something we all need to do to maintain our health. Whether it’s kickboxing, spinning or lifting weights, workouts should be challenging and allow you to see and feel consistent progress. We also need rest days to support muscle repair and recovery to get stronger without injury. But could take just one week off really slow your goal-getting efforts?

3 Reasons Your Workout Feels Harder After a Weeklong Break from the Gym

1. Aerobic Capacity Can Slow Down

Professional athletes aren’t excluded from rest days. But even they will start to notice a decline in aerobic capacity after 2-3 weeks off from regular workouts. If you can’t work out for a week or longer due to a vacation, illness or injury, you may notice workouts feel more challenging than before. This is most likely because you’ve gone from consistent moderate to vigorous training, to inactivity and back. If you’re not well, take the time to recover and work harder when you get back. Otherwise, if it’s your schedule that’s restricted you from getting workouts in, walk, stand or take the stairs whenever possible.

RELATED: How restorative fitness can help balance out your workouts?

2. You Can Experience Feelings of Guilt

If you’ve had to take time off, coming back to your regular routine can trigger feelings of guilt and of missing out. But no matter how intense your FOMO is, remind yourself to recognize that time off is sometimes out of your control and sometimes needed. Getting back in the saddle may feel like you’ve missed out on the opportunity to get that much closer to your goals. But one week off won’t completely derail any of your accomplishments. In fact, rest may be what your body needed more of.

RELATED: Your ultimate marathon training guide

3. Because Working Out Is a Habit

If you’re someone who’s kept to a regular workout regime, it can be a tough habit to break. That first workout back reminds your body what a heightened state of activity feels like. Your nervous system needs a wake-up call to properly recruit your brain and working muscles. The “shock” value can make the first couple workouts back an adjustment period. Thankfully, you have “muscle memory” that allows your fitness to bounce fairly quickly.

RELATED: Should You Exercise When You're Tired? Experts Explain

Your body gets used to active days as easily as rest days. Keep a balanced mindset and give yourself a break when life has other plans for workout days. So long as you don’t quit, the gym will be there when you return.

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