Working out can be incredibly fun, all while providing incredible mental and physical health benefits.
But, even though it’s so good for us- it can be REALLY time-consuming.
Some bodybuilders on serious programs like the Arnold Blueprint to Mass may even find themselves working out close to 3 hours a day!
Sometimes, vacations, family events, and other things come up. Also, it’s a good idea to take a break from working out every 3-4 months for a week or so anyway.
So, what happens if you do take that week-long break?
Will I gain weight if I take a week from working out? Well, unless you lower the calories you eat every day, you will gain weight if you take a week off from working out. But, this isn’t always a bad thing. Most of this weight will actually come back as muscle, not fat.
So, it’s actually a good idea in most cases to stay on that same amount of calories. Because your body has been working out for so long, it does sort of have a ‘backlog’ of muscle and other tissues it needs to repair. Giving this week off will, for the most part, just result in more muscle growth and NOT fat growth.
And even if it doesn’t come back as muscle for some odd reason, there won’t be much fat put on anyways. The fat gain would be barely noticeable- if anything you’d notice more just, in general, bloating from the vacation food you’re eating instead of fat gain.
So, no need to worry. Take that hard-earned break and rest up a bit, it’s good for you.
Let’s cover this more in-depth, and look at some of the science behind this all.
If You Don’t Eat Less Calories, You Will Gain Weight
So, our bodies work as science works.
There’s this law called, “The Law of Conservation of Mass”. It basically says that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only changed.
You may be wondering- how does this relate to fitness at all?
Well, look at your diet. You cannot magically poof fat or muscle out of thin air in your body. Any fat or muscle on your body was created directly from the food you were eating.
Scientifically speaking, if you eat LESS calories than your body burns in a day, you will lose weight. This can be a mixture of fat/muscle, but the more protein you eat means more fat is broken down instead of muscle.
Again, scientifically speaking, if you eat MORE calories than your body burns in a day, you will GAIN weight. This can be a mixture of fat/muscle, and if you work out, a majority of it will come back as muscle.
However, notice how no matter what you do- you will either be losing muscle or gaining fat. There’s, unfortunately, no perfect way to do it.
Furthermore, just because you gain weight- doesn’t mean it’s bad. Gaining muscle isn’t always a bad thing. And for some people, (like people like me who suffered from body dysmorphia) fat gain isn’t a bad thing either.
And again, just because you lose weight, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing either- you can lose muscle too.
So instead of focusing on directly what the number on the scale says, we want to focus on our body composition- our body fat % and muscle %.
Generally Speaking, Most of Your Weight Gain Will Be Muscle
If you work out hard in the gym, you may have noticed some muscle growth already.
Regardless, if you’re seeing any semblance of muscle growth, chances are- your workout is good enough that your body sees a need to put on more muscle.
That may sound obvious, but it’s important for the upcoming week.
See, if your body already thinks you need more muscle, taking a week off from the gym will likely result in any weight gain being actual muscle.
Remember, you don’t build muscle IN the gym, you build muscle OUT of the gym. Your body only grows muscle when you are resting- not when you’re working out.
Let’s assume you take a week off from the gym. Your body still has muscle it needs to repair, in fact- quite a bit.
So, any weight gain you may have will likely just be used towards muscle groups in your body. You will likely gain a little bit of fat, but that happens regardless of our choices, and it won’t be enough to really even notice. (You’ll probably burn it off when you go back to the gym anyway)
This Weight Gain Can Be Really Good For Recovery
It can be hard for your body to recover from your workouts. In fact, a common problem for some people is not recovering well enough before their next workout.
Some people may not eat enough, sleep enough, et cetera- and then their muscle doesn’t grow.
Your body does get a little bit of a backlog when building all of this muscle.
That is exactly why bodybuilding programs have rest days every week, without them- your body will NEVER catch up and keep building muscle, in fact, you will start to lose muscle if you never rest.
So, sometimes just giving your body the nutrients it needs to put on that muscle and get caught up can do wonders for your body.
Also, even if you only do cardio, there’s a lot of muscles that need to be built up that you may not even be considering. A huge one is the heart, another big one is the diaphragm, and other ones include bone strength like shin strength so you don’t get shin splints.
Overall, it’s just a good idea to relax, take a week off, and gain weight sometimes. Your body will thank you for it.
Our bodies are incredibly resilient, and that’s why even at Olympic levels of training you barely see overtraining– but it’s always a good idea to give our bodies a rest sometimes and let them regrow.
Conclusion of Will I Gain Weight If I Take A Week Off From Working Out?
So, if you’re taking a week off from working out, you ultimately have nothing to worry about.
Sure, you may gain some weight. But, most of it will be muscle anyways. And your body is efficient and will use most of that for recovery efforts anyways, not just storing fat. And in the event you do gain a little bit of fat (which is, honestly inevitable) it will be so little you’ll barely even notice it.
Stressing out about gaining all that weight might actually put some weight on, however- as your cortisol levels rise your fat production increases.
Honestly, there’s nothing to even stress about. Just relax, enjoy your vacation, rest up, and get back at it again when your break is over.