How Long Does it Actually Take to Lose Muscle?

With gyms and studios closed during the pandemic, many of us have had to pause our training. After not working out for a while, you may have noticed that you’ve lost muscle, but how long does it actually take to lose muscle?

The truth is a bit hard to swallow—if you don’t train at all, you’ll start to loose muscle mass after 72 hours. Although you’ll start to lose muscle mass after just 72 hours, you probably won’t notice any losses until you’ve gone three to four weeks without training. But the following factors determine how quickly you’ll lose muscle mass.

How Long You’ve Been Training

The longer you’ve been training, the more muscle you’ll have and the better off you’ll be when you take a pause on your routine.

Your Diet

Protein is the key to building and maintaining muscle mass, so when you don’t get enough protein, your body pulls from muscle stores to get the amino acids it needs to keep your other cells and tissues functioning. This results in muscle loss. For active people, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests an overall daily protein intake of 1.4-2 grams per kilogram of body weight.

Your Chronological Age

Age-related changes make it harder to build and maintain muscle, with the dramatic decrease happening between ages 60-70. Strength-training can reverse those changes, but when you stop training, the benefits disappear.

Your Sex

Males have an advantage when it comes to muscle as they have more natural testosterone, which is anabolic to muscle tissue development and maintenance.