The Effects Of Detraining In Athletes

5 Reasons Why your Athlete Needs to Keep Coming to Back in Motion While They Are In-Season (AKA The Effects of Detraining)


By: Chad Anderson


1) Use it or Lose it


When you don’t use and load your muscles regularly, you’ll lose them in less time than it took to build them in the first place.


Losing this muscle can open your athlete to experiencing more injuries, decreased endurance, motivation, and so much more!


If you have stopped training, there is an effect on your endurance. That, in turn, affects how early you can experience fatigue. Fatigue can lead to several complications, as mentioned below:


  • High probability of suffering an ankle injury.
  • Increased chances of suffering from lower extremity complications.
  • Lower energy and strength levels.
  • Negative effects on muscle strength.


What most athletes suffer from are the negative effects of reversibility. How terrible the impact will be based on how their body functions and the sport or physical activity they’re involved in. Since we all function uniquely, each of us responds differently.


Although there are a number of negative effects to reversibility, based on new research, it can also be used in some cases to train and improve.


Especially in weightlifting, it is common for athletes to take a break after hitting a plateau. After taking the rest, they’ll come back stronger and be refreshed to do much better.


2) Nervous system adaptations drop quickly (loss in strength and power)


Nervous system adaptations drop quickly (loss in strength and power). An example is when it took an Olympic rower 20 weeks to return to their regular fitness level after just an 8-week hiatus from training.


As mentioned above, fatigue can make you feel exhausted and increase the probability of getting injured.


Detraining can affect your endurance levels. Be it aerobic or anaerobic. It can even affect strength and elastic endurance as well.


  • Time taken for each issue to be affected:
  • Speed – about a week.
  • Alactic endurance – within 10 days.
  • Max strength – about 4 weeks.
  • Aerobic endurance – about 4 weeks.


3) Force absorption is lost (makes you injury-prone)


For example, 30% of sports injuries involve 1 to 3 weeks of inactivity (Barca Innovation Hub). It is a well-established fact that when we take a break from heavily involved physical activities, we tend to face many complications. Taking a little break can be effective.


But if it lasts too long, then one suffers from loss in fitness. Fitness is basically determined by how strong your muscles are, how well you can breathe and how well you can recover from fatigue.


Detraining has a negative impact on how well you can focus and start training again, so the risk of picking up an injury is very high.


Even many athletes, while taking a break from their main sport, make sure to get themselves involved in some kind of physical activity or their other favorite sports.


It is important for your body to be in movement and to prevent suffering unnecessary injuries.


4) How Does It Affect Cardiorespiratory & Conditioning?


Aerobic development and maintenance is an ongoing process.


VO2 max, the body’s ability to take in and utilize oxygen, begins to decline at about day 10 of no training and then continues to decrease over time.


Studies of runners show VO2 max drops about 6% after four weeks


Why Is This Bad For Athletes?


Speed and high-intensity training are highly dependent on VO2 max.


If this is in decline, the inability to transport oxygen makes it hard to recover and continue with hard intervals.


With anaerobic enzymes, muscle elasticity, blood volume, and muscle glycogen storage all in decline, together they significantly decrease the maximum workout we can generate.


This means you’re going to lose that MAX POTENTIAL SPEED that we train so hard to achieve.


5) Where Does Strength Fall Into Play With Everything?


For most people, we tend to see strength loss after about 2 to 3 weeks.


Strength training is crucial for any young athlete bringing a plethora of benefits to your athlete physically and mentally.


As your child grows, they will experience a number of hormonal and structural changes, which can impact their sports performance and put them at an increased risk of developing sports-related injuries. Your child doesn’t want to get held back by injury or cut from the team because they “can’t keep up,”—which is why strength training is essential.


The Bottom Line…


The following things can be done to make sure that athletes don’t suffer from detraining complications:


  1. Setting clear objectives.
  2. Constructing a training program personalized for specific goals.
  3. Sticking with the program and maintaining progress to return to your sport.


One of the most common adverse effects of detraining, which isn’t talked about much, is the loss of motivation. Athletes lose their motivation to work out or put effort into training.


Even while your athlete is in-season and practicing, they don’t get all the appropriate strength, agility, speed, balance, and endurance training they need to stay injury-free and perform at peak performance.


Practice is simply not enough, and that’s why it’s crucial to continue sports performance training even while they are in-season.

About the Author: Dr. Scott Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is the Owner of Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance. Each and Every Week He Helps His Clients & Patients Live Their Life to the Fullest, Get Active, and Get Pain-Free.
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