How Long Before I Turn to Mush?


It was bulking season, I was working out two times a day, and putting every ounce of effort that I had into getting bigger and stronger.

How Long Before I Lose Muscle?
Look at that transformation!

With my hunger and determination, I couldn’t be stopped. I was constantly researching new ways to build up on my knowledge and strength. Eating wasn’t an issue, soreness wasn’t an issue, and time was on my side.

However, all of this changed after a routine health checkup.

Well That’s Gonna Slow Me Down

Turns out, the Big Man Upstairs had other plans when it came to my weightlifting. During a routine visit with my doctor, I found out that I would be needing surgery on my back. The procedure itself would be simplistic; however the recovery time was going to put me out of commission for a month.

How Long Before I Lose Muscle?
That’s not my back, that’s a knee. Anatomy is great!

My first thought was: “Are you kidding me?!”

My second thought was: “I’m going to be turning to mush!”

How Long Do I Have?

That’s the real question; how long do I have before I lose my muscle mass and lose all of my hard work? It’s a serious issue!

Anger and surprise swelled up within me. It’s not fair! I worked my butt off to gain this muscle, nursed myself through injuries, and constantly try to alter my plan so that I can have the most benefit from a workout. Now, I’m lying in bed in agony trying to figure out a creative way to work out without injuring myself more.

The thing is, there is no way to work out if you’re injured (especially after a surgery). So how long does the human body really have before you start to lose your muscle gains and have to start from square one?


Although time is definitely a factor, don’t panic! This is one of the most often asked questions when it comes to working out. It’s understandable that you want to ask this question and are wondering about the future, you’ve worked hard!

There are two key reasons why you shouldn’t be too worried when it comes muscle loss. One key topic is muscle memory and atrophy, a huge key to keeping your muscle gains. Another aspect that will keep you solid is cutting back on all the food you’ve been eating.

Let’s dive into these topics more below:

Your Work Will Pay Off

Trust me, your hard work will pay off. Muscles are resilient and it takes time for them to decrease in size. In fact muscles get stronger during times of recovery so a little time off from the gym doesn’t hurt necessarily.

Also, if you’re taking a significant time out of the gym, say 2 or 3 weeks, don’t stress out too much about the timeout. Your muscles may get smaller and decrease in size and you may not be able to lift as much, but muscle memory will ensure once you hit the gym your muscles will adjust quickly.

So say it with me: put in the work now, don’t stress the healing time later.

Cut Back on the Din-Din

It’s sad but true. Though we all love the amount of eating we get to do while training, if you’re injured your body doesn’t require nearly as much fuel as it used to. Don’t get  me wrong, on rest days it’s a common fact that you should keep up your eating, but if you’re injured and going to be out of commission for a significant amount of time you just don’t need to be eating as much.

How Long Before I Lose Muscle?
Cut back on the din-din!

That’s the issue where most weightlifters run into problems, they keep eating extra food and even junk food when they’re taking a break from lifting. Do yourself and your training a favor and cut back on the din-din, you should be golden.


So should you be worried about your muscles when taking a substantial break from the gym? Yes, but don’t stress too much. The hard work and dedication that you put in to your training will pay off in your down-time. Work hard before and after your break, cut down on your food intake, and focus on healing.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!