S3 E9: How Fast Do We Lose Fitness? / The Art of Fitness Resilience

When it comes to fitness it's a case of use it... or lose it! But how fast do we lose fitness, how can we limit the damage when we take time off and is there such a thing as muscle memory?


Kramer et al 2017 - an amazing study where people were given bed rest for 60 days, and various physiological measures were assessed before and after. This study found that even 3 min of hopping six days a week cut these changes enormously: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-13659-8

Chi et al 1983 - this is the study we discuss where 6 to 12 weeks off causes the oxidative enzymes to drop significantly, but they still remain well above the levels of never-trained people: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6829750/

Maldonado-Martin 2017 - this is the study on elite cyclists who stopped for the 4 week off season, and VO2max, RBC, Skinfolds and peak power were among the variables measured: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27476326/

Garcia-Palleres 2009 - the kayaking study, where some elite kayakers stopped training entirely, others did about 20% to 30% of their normal training and cut their losses in half: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19997013/

Houmard et al 1990 - a study on runners where keeping the intensity of training the same allowed for certain performances to be defended even though volume was cut down significantly: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2318562/

Madsen et al 1993 - another runner study, this one showing how high intensity training defends high intensity physiology, but the fat oxidation and endurance capacity drops off significantly: https://journals.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/jappl.1993.75.4.1444

Henwood et al 2008 - one of the two strength training studies we discuss, where detraining and then retraining is able to return strength to pre-detraining levels within about half the time it took to lose it: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18693231/

Blocquiaux et al 2020 - the other strength study, which also found a drop in strength that could be regained in about half the time it took to lose it: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32017951/

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