For those of you who don’t know, I am currently a laboratory technician in the Physiology Lab at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit in Panama City. Some of my recent research has involved looking at the effects and timeline of detrainment, and I came across some interesting literature that thought I would share. Detrainment is defined as the partial or complete loss of training-induced anatomical, physiological, and performance adaptations as a result of reduction or cessation of training (Mujika and Padilla 2000).
Translation: detrainment is the process of “getting out of shape”, also known as “if you don’t use it, you lose it” syndrome.
Obviously, we want to combat detrainment because we don’t want to backslide. But as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way of us working out. So naturally, we have the following questions:
1) How fast will I detrain?
2) How can I keep this from happening?
There’s no easy answer to question #1. Studies have used a detrainment period ranging from two to sixteen weeks and begin reporting changes at seven to fifteen days. This seems to tell us that detrainment does not typically occur in less than two weeks, but unfortunately there are no known studies that have specifically researched the minimum time to detrainment.
– In a study using rats, physical capacity and myocardial performance reverted to pre-trained conditions after only two weeks of detraining (Bocalini et al 2010).
– A study involving young basketball players showed no significant difference in explosive strength indicators after four, eight, twelve, or sixteen weeks of detrainment following a ten-week plyometric training program (Santos and Janeira 2011).
– The Dallas Bedrest and Training Study of 1966 (Saltin et al 1968) found that detrainment caused a significant decrease in the maximum O2 uptake (VO2max), cardiac output, heart rate, and stroke volume during exercise.
– A decrease in aerobic capacity in adults was seen after 15 days of bed rest (Stuart et al 2007).
– Greenleaf et al (1997) found that peak oxygen uptake decreased by day seven of the study.
Now, on to question #2. Obviously, daily exercise is going to keep detrainment from happening (Lee et al 2009, Lee et al 2007). But one study actually found that stretching also combats detrainment (Kasahara et al 2010)! So if you can’t get a workout in for a few days at a time, try doing some stretches to keep from losing all that hard work you put in at the gym! Try yoga at home or check out these stretch-at-your-desk videos from Mayo clinic to help maintain your level of fitness even when you can’t actively work out.