Do You Lose Muscle If You Stop Working Out?


Got a workout related question?
Then just “Ask Lee”…

What happens when you stop working out?

Do you lose muscle?

How long does it take to lose muscle after you stop lifting weights?

These are some common questions that I get asked. And in fact my most recent Ask Lee video Q and A Dav Harrison asks:

Is it true that if you don’t use the muscle you lose it? I read this somewhere. I haven’t been to the gym in a while and I feel weaker and smaller. If I start working out again will I gain the muscle back quicker?


Click PLAY To Get The Answer…

Note: if you can’t watch the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it right on my YouTube Channel by Clicking Here

You will lose muscle if you stop working out. However, it’s not instant. It’s not like if you stop working out for a week you’re going to shrivel away to nothing. But if you let yourself go several weeks on end with no weight training then you will start to lose your muscle strength and fullness.

If you don’t use it, you will lose it. You have to provide stress and demands on the muscle in order to give it a reason to grow bigger and stronger.

However, the good news is that you can re-gain lost muscle quicker the second time around. This is what’s referred to as muscle memory. It’s easier and faster to re-build muscle that you had previously, then it is to build that muscle mass in the first place.

So while it may have taken you a year or more to build up to a certain level of muscular development. You should be able to return to that level within several weeks of regular workouts in the gym.

The main thing you need to focus on is being consistent with your workouts so that you make regular weight training a part of your lifestyle. And not get caught up in the whole working out on and off again pattern.

Facebook Comments:

Leave A Reply (12 comments so far)


  1. Marcus
    2 years ago

    Okay so I have bee lifting heavy over last couple of years and now I just don’t have time to get to the gym so I do 100 push-ups, band curls, pull-ups, sit-ups and run two to five miles daily, but no weights. Will I lose muscle mass?

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  2. james
    2 years ago

    interesting topic because i seem to lose a good bit of weight when i stop working out. I figured maybe it was low T.. my normal weight is 220-225 as long as i’m in a normal workout routine. but at times, work gets hectic and i may have to stop working out for 2-3 months. I normally drop to about 210 with the exact same meal pattern. is it normal to drop 10-20 lbs while taking a 3 month break Lee? thx.

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  3. Thomas Harding
    2 years ago

    I noticed as I get older, I am the muscle quicker if I don’t do weight training regular. However it does feel like I gain more muscle after a 2 week rest. So I would train 3 months without a break and then take a 2 week break and then hard core again for 3 months. In other words it would feel like I am taking 2 steps back while resting and then 3 steps forward when I start again. It does take about 2 weeks to get to the same strengths but after that I gain about 5% to 10% more strength 2 months after the rest. Could there be a scientific explanation or is it all in my head.

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  4. Ryan
    2 years ago

    Thomas-
    After working out for a couple months regularly, with minimum rest, a week or so break will do you good to reset your body a little bit, and no its not unlikely that you could gain a little muscle in that short period of resting, or even be stronger when you return to the gym. Just as long as your nutrition stays in tact.
    -Ryan
    Thomas Harding,

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  5. Ansgar Woo
    2 years ago

    Thomas Harding,

    Lee Hayward & many other fitness gurus advise taking at least one week off from training after consistent training for 3 months. This is to allow the muscles to rest, grow & repair all the aches & pains that might accumulate from the 3 months of heavy lifting. During the week off, eat sensibly & if possible, go to bed early.

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  6. leehayward
    2 years ago

    Marcus,

    That should help you to maintain, but ideally you should try to get at least a couple gym workouts per week. If you did a couple gym workouts along with your home workout routine you could still make gains.

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  7. leehayward
    2 years ago

    james,

    Yes, just like was mentioned in the video. If you don’t place stress on the muscle you will lose it.

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  8. leehayward
    2 years ago

    Thomas Harding,

    A short break from the gym can aid with recovery and help with your progress. When I say if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it I’m talking about taking an extended break from the gym as in several weeks or even months.

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  9. Sam
    2 years ago

    Hi Lee
    If you’ve done persistent heavy workouts so that your joints actually get bigger, will the joints shrink if you stop training for a long time?

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  10. wlf24
    12 months ago

    of course you’ll lose muscle mass but not entirely or completly. but also if you do have normal training and two to five miles a day, it’s not a bad thing either actually it’s positive for you body 100% meaning that is maintaining well. But don’t be so happy about it annyway, beacause the muscle mass will be lost away after a while, you will lose it because of the obvious fact that muscle mass it’s built to receive a lot of weight, meaning that the only way to built mass is to lift heavy weight to very heavy weight and then to keep giong upper to the next level so that the nmass is built.. that’s the way to gain it.. so what all means is that if you don’t lift heavy weights then heavyer then what ever, you will lose mass.. and if you doing normal training just to maintain yourself and eating like you’re supose to, you will do just fine with no mass on you, having not a beautifull body but pretty nice body because you actually use it. and you’ll have a normal pretty non-bad body. you just not going to have that body muscle mass definition/volumide abs and all so no worries

    ,

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  11. wlf24
    12 months ago

    wlf24:
    of course you’ll lose muscle mass but not entirely or completly. but also if you do have normal training and two to five miles a day, it’s not a bad thing either actually it’s positive for you body 100% meaning that is maintaining well. But don’t be so happy about it annyway, beacause the muscle mass will be lost away after a while, you will lose it because of the obvious fact that muscle mass it’s built to receive a lot of weight, meaning that the only way to built mass is to lift heavy weight to very heavy weight and then to keep giongupper to the next level so that the nmass is built.. that’s the way to gain it.. so what all means is that if you don’t lift heavy weightsthen heavyer then what ever, you will lose mass.. and if you doing normal training just to maintain yourself and eating like you’re supose to, you will do just fine with no mass on you, having not a beautifull body but pretty nice body because you actually use it. and you’ll have a normal pretty non-bad body. you just not going to have that body muscle mass definition/volumide abs and all so no worries

    ,

      (Quote)  (Reply)


  12. Has
    4 days ago

    I worked out for 15 months 3-4x a week with personal trainers but had a pretty crappy diet during this time. then stopped for like 10 years and never worked out and had a bad diet. Would I have muscle memory? If I start working out again? I haven’t trained in 10 years or dieted and I’m outta shape

      (Quote)  (Reply)

Download Your FREE Bodybuilding Diet Plan


FREE 12 Week Workout Program Download





Join The Inner Circle Coaching Club
Get on the Muscle Building FAST TRACK
as an Exclusive Member of the Total Fitness Bodybuilding "Inner Circle" Coaching Club.

Try it out RISK FREE for 60 days!

Click Here for more info...




Heavy Grips Hand Grippers
Heavy Grips Hand Grippers
Build A Strong Crushing Grip & Ripped Muscular Forearms In Just 90 Days!
Click Here To Get Your Grippers Now.



Progressive Pull Up Program
Progressive Pull Up Program - How To Build a Wide V-Shaped Back

How To Master The Pull Up and Build
A Wide V-Shaped Muscular Back!
This graduated training system covers all levels, from the beginner who can't do a single pull up with bodyweight, right on up to the advanced lifter who can bang out multiple sets of weighted pull ups!
Click here for more info...



Blast Your Bench
10th Year Special Edition!

Blast Your Bench - How To Add 50 Pounds To Your Bench Press In 3 Weeks
Take your personal bench press record to new heights with the Blast Your Bench program. This step-by-step plan that will increase your max bench press by as much as 50 lbs. in just a few weeks.
Click here for more info...



Blast Your Biceps
Blast Your Biceps - How To Add 2 Inches To Your Arms In Just 8 Weeks!
How To Add 2 Inches Of Solid Muscle Mass To Your Arms In Just 8 Weeks With This KICK ASS Arm Specialization Program!
Click here for more info...




The Bodybuilder's Cookbook! Click Here To Download Your Copy!
Over 200 "Anabolicious" recipes designed to help you pack on lean muscle mass and burn off bodyfat. This by far the single best bodybuilding nutrition system that will allow you to enjoy mouth watering meals that you can prepare in minutes.
Click here for more info...



Blue Star Supplements

Blue Star Muscle uses only the highest quality ingredients to help you get that competitive edge. Click Here for more info...





Total Fitness Bodybuilding T-Shirts


Alpha BRAIN Nootropic

Alpha BRAIN is the ideal brain food. Containing nutrients designed to help the body elevate levels of major neurotransmitters, Alpha BRAIN can help you to actualize your mind's true potential. Click Here for more info...