Don't have time to train for the next two weeks? Or can't train at all because the gyms are closed? In this blog, we discuss what happens to your body when you don't train for a fortnight. Spoiler alert: There is little harm in taking a rest for once.
In 2017, sports scientists from Baylor University studied what two weeks of not exercising does to athletes' bodies. The study lasted for 10 weeks and 20 experienced strength athletes participated. The athletes had to follow an identical training schedule for the first four weeks and then were given two weeks of rest. After the rest period, they resumed a four-week training schedule. Furthermore, the group was also split in two. One half drank a shake with 25 grams of maltodextrin (a carbohydrate) after each workout and the other half drank a shake with 25 grams of whey protein. Also during the rest period, each participant took the shake daily.
What happened after two weeks of rest?
During the first four weeks, all participants improved their sports performance. The group that took whey protein took even slightly more than the other group. The key insight was that none of the athletes experienced negative effects during the rest period. None of them lost strength, gained or lost weight. When the participants started training again, they seemed to continue at the same level and had not taken a rest period.
Of course, this is only one study which means we cannot assure that everyone will experience this after two weeks of rest. If you are an experienced athlete and have been exercising for a while, you are less likely to lose strength than someone who has only just started training if you do not train for a fortnight. Overall, we can conclude that two weeks of rest has little to no impact on your sports performance. In addition, for some, resting for a while and fully recovering can actually be very good.
Are there other consequences?
There are also other effects a rest period can have on your body. After all, for many, exercise is a form of discharge and not doing so for a fortnight can have an impact on your mental health. For instance, you may not sleep as well or experience more stress during those two weeks. It may also cause you to deviate from your (healthy) diet to regain the positive feeling that exercise gave you. These are possible negative consequences, but certainly not everyone will experience them. So above all, listen carefully to your body. Do you feel completely exhausted? Then take a break. You really don't want to stop exercising? Then don't. Have no choice and do you have to take a two-week rest? Accept it and pick it up nicely after two weeks.