Don't Use It, You'll Lose It
Your training is going great, you are making great gains, losing weight, building endurance, and looking damn good. And then it happens. The dreaded time off from the gym. Sometimes it can be family, school, work, or even illness - but there are always times that we will miss. Our concern is how much will we lose and do we have to start over. Let's take a look at what happens when you stop training for a period of time.
1) One of the variables is length of prior conditioning; weeks, months or years. Those individuals that train 5 to 6 times a week and have been doing so for years may actually benefit from a week or two off. Others who just started their workouts and have been training for only a few months can lose all their gains in as little as a few weeks.
2) Age also plays a role. Individuals 30 and younger lose less conditioning than those of us, uummmm, slightly older. Don't use that as an excuse, and keep your layoffs as short as possible. As stated above, consistent conditioning pays off. The older you are, the faster you lose it.
3) Major illnesses or stress can also accelerate conditioning loss. These people can lose up to 1% of their conditioning a day. It is important to remove yourself from stressful situations when possible and maintain a healthy diet, returning to training when safe.
4) The goal here is to remember that there'll always be times that we cannot train due to multiple factors in our busy lives. The key is to remain consistent at working out 3 to 5 times a week, as often as possible. This will give us the freedom to miss on occasion without any significant loss. For those that train for a month or two and miss a month and start back, it can be demoralizing with no gains seen.
If you can't train be sure to maintain good nutrition, do some light body weight exercises at home, and return to the gym as soon as possible.