The Detraining Effect: What does detraining mean?

November 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Posted in Bareskin Towel, Diet, Fitness, Professional Athletes, Sports and Rec, tips, Weight Loss, Weight Training | 4 Comments
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Author: Jonathan O’Donnell

What does detraining mean?

“Detraining” means losing the training benefits acquired during a well-planned effective exercise program because the individual decides to stop. In other words, if you don’t use it, you lose it. A great example is comparing an ex-professional athlete who after a few years of retirement is in worse shape than the businessman of similar age who exercises regularly.

A reason people get discouraged when exercising is because the benefits acquired from regular exercise are transient and reversible. Also the detraining effect can happen much faster than the time it took you to get the training effect. In a study of manual labor workers a decrease of approximately 1% of physiologic function each day occurred when the workers were confined to bed for 20 days. (McArdle, Katch, and Katch; 1991)

For example, lets take an individual who has exercised regularly for 2-3months and significantly increased their fitness levels. After 1 to 2 weeks of abstinence from exercise that individual may feel weaker, more shortness of breath, and less energetic, especially during exercise. Some individuals after a short lay off may try to pick up where they left off in their workouts. They feel as if they are starting all over, become discouraged, get sore muscles all over again, and may stop all together.

The key to avoiding this whole scenario is apparent, don’t stop exercising! However, life sometimes throws us obstacles that do not allow us to exercise. What do we do? I want to first tell you what not to do. Do not say to yourself that it’s impossible for me to exercise on my regular routine for a week so I am going to stop for a while. This is totally setting you up for a major set back. What you should do is two things.

First, know what is minimally required of you to keep your fitness levels up. If you notice in the last paragraph I stated that “the detraining effect can happen much faster than the time it took you to get the training effect.” This can happen if you do absolutely no exercise. If you do a portion of your regular routine you can still maintain or at least greatly slow down the detraining effect. From my experience, to generally maintain muscular strength, endurance, and tone one should do resistance training of all major muscle groups at least once a week at the same resistance used in their normal routine. That means do not use lighter weights or less resistance and do not do fewer repetitions. You may decrease the number of sets of repetitions and the number of times you train each of the muscle groups per week to no less than one time per week. To generally maintain cardiovascular endurance: maintain your usual intensity (e.g., speed on the treadmill), maintain most of your usual duration (e.g., time or distance on the treadmill), and do it at least 2 times per week.

Second, now that you know what is minimally required of you, make it fit in your schedule! It’s not much and it will keep your fitness levels up until you can work back into your regular exercise routine. If it’s not to long (2 months) you should be able to pick up right where you left off without breaking stride.

References:

  • McArdle, Katch, and Katch, Exercise Physiology (3rd Edition), Lea & Febiger; Malvern, PA, 1991.

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About the Author

Get in the shape of your life with a highly experienced and certified personal trainer at The Training Zone in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The Training Zone is amongst the largest and best equipped personal training gyms in Bergen County,New Jersey.

If you are interested in personal training Englewood Cliffs, NJ , personal trainer, personal training,please call us today for a free, no obligation trial workout!

Visit us at http://www.thetrainingzone.com for more info on our trainers, services, facilities, location/hours, and amenities.

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4 Comments »

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