Is Too Much Time At The Gym Killing Your Gains?

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How long can you stay away from the gym?

If you ask a competitive mixed martial artist or boxer this question they’d probably tell you that anything longer than a week is too long to stay out of the gym. The notion is that you get out of shape within one weeks time. But as we all know, bodybuilding works differently than most other sports and rest time is no exception.

Generation Iron Kevin LevroneStudies have been conducted on whether or not you’ll lose all your gains by staying out of the gym for an extended period of time. A bunch of gym rats were separated into two groups for this study. Group one maintained their usual routine, while group two had a planned period of rest put into their lifting schedule. The results ended up pretty interesting. Kevin Levrone was a bodybuilder notorious for taking massive amounts of time off, yet he was still able to pack back on the size he lost during his down time and get all his gains back and then some.

So what exactly were the results of the study group? In the end it seems that group two, the group that took time off, ended up losing mass and strength in the down time, but were able to quickly rebound once they got back into action, catching right up with group one (who’d been consistently lifting).

So yes, it’s possible to stay out of the gym and still get all your gains back if you plan things out. It doesn’t mean you should skip a workout though, it just means you should set some time every couple of months to stay out of the gym completely to give your body its adequate rest.

Why on earth would you do that? Well, for one, more rest means more time for your muscles to recover. The better the recovery, the better the muscle growth. Secondly, some time off will help you rest the most important muscle in your body, the brain. The mental fortitude you need to push through an intense workout is essential and overtaxing your mental muscles will only prove to hinder you in the long run if you don’t take some time to let your mind rest. Some down time can be a good thing for all your body’s muscles, so do yourself a favor and schedule some time off. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. In fact it just means you’re s smart and that your muscles will be growing in no time.

In the end we know this isn’t something that most people would agree with – at face value it stands against the classic mindset that any serious bodybuilder or athlete in general lives by. But the truth is there is an alternative out there. If you want to be Mr. Olympia, this might not be an option for you – but you’re someone wondering if a break from the gym will destroy your future gains, the answer might not be as obvious as you think.

So how much time do you usually take off from the gym? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.