We’ve all been there. The first session back after a break at Christmas or a holiday and everything feels so, super heavy. You wake up the next day and you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus.
It’s a common belief that taking time off the gym can lead you lose all the muscle you worked so hard for.
"Is this true?"
No! Research suggests that you can actually get away with taking a break for a good few weeks before muscle atrophy aka muscle loss starts to occur. A 2017 study by Hwang et al. found that a two-week period of no training in resistance trained males did not result in any loss of muscle mass or strength.
A big factor here is protein intake. Protein is the key macronutrient when it comes to muscle protein synthesis and muscle maintenance. Once a good protein intake is achieved, the risk of muscle loss is greatly reduced, even when low levels of activity are present.
"Then why does it feel like I’m back to square one again with my body composition?"
Not only does training feel much harder and recovery feels much poorer when you return from a break, you also feel like you don’t look like you did before. At all. Why is this?
Bloating and Water Retention
While some fat gain is probable post-Christmas or a holiday, it’s more than likely mostly due to water retention’s and bloating. Increasing water intake is a sure way to flush out any excess water and help get your digestion moving again. Fibre intake is another area which can commonly be neglected over the festive period, so increasing your intake of vegetables, fruit, oats, beans, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds will help to get your fibre intake back where it should be