How fast do you lose cardio fitness?
Let’s face it, doing cardio exercises it not really easy, especially in the beginning. It is really hard work to gain fitness levels as you have to push yourself to the limit to see benefits. So if you plan to take some time off due to an injury or holiday you will need to know some facts as to how quickly one can lose your fitness level.
Exactly how fast you lose your level of fitness depends on how long you have been training and for how long you plan to stop.
How fast do you lose cardio fitness when you are fit?
Research has been done on athletes that have been training for a year or more and they were asked to stop exercising completely. Because these were considered fit athletes that exercise a good few times a week it took those athletes about 3 months to lose half of their cardio fitness level.
How fast do you lose cardio fitness when you are a beginner?
Beginners actually lose their cardiovascular fitness level a lot faster than a regular athlete. Research has been done on a group of people starting exercising for 2 months. They were then asked to stop exercising completely for 2 months and in the process they completely lost all their fitness gained.
Looking at this research, it is pretty obvious that you can lose your cardio fitness levels in a short amount of time, however there is good news. It has been shown that if you can do at least one cardio session once a week you won’t lose much fitness but maintain it. This session should be a really intense session and you should use at least 70% of your VO2max, your maximum oxygen level consumption.
There is more good news, your level of strength won’t drop as fast as your cardio level when stopping to exercise, you can read more about it in my article how fast do you lose muscle.
As we have learned it is never a good idea to completely stop exercising and you should try and maintain it when you have to cut back. Always remember it takes longer to gain fitness than to lose it.