How to avoid detraining issues

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

With the Government easing COVID restrictions and social distancing, most of the active population will face some challenges coming back to training. These challenges are caused by partial or total interruption of exercise program or a partial or total loss of exercise benefits in response to an insufficient training stimulus, both depending on the duration of training cessation or insufficient training(1) also known as detraining effects.

With gyms, pools closure, events cancellation, social distancing and training regime stoppage, amateur and professional athletes had to face a big challenge on keeping the physiological gains from the period before COVID. Metabolic and functional adaptations from exercise programs can decrease even after short detraining periods due to unexpected causes such as injures and vacation (1,2), even with social media posts and videos showing lots of examples of people keeping active, a big part of sports practitioners and athletes related struggle to keep a routine and the motivation, not to mention nutritional discipline.

To avoid detraining effects during a break (the transitional period between seasons, injures, pandemic, holidays) its advisable to adapt your training regime adjusting volume & intensity to the current reality. Sometimes, it is necessary to change the modality; it’s noticeable during the pandemic swimmers on bikes, runners on rowers, cyclists swimming in the ocean. It is a common practice among high-performance athletes. They use this during maintenance or transitional periods where they change their modality to keep their fitness and resetting for the next season. It is also a strategy used to avoid mental stress,burn-out in their sport.

Photo by Max Rovensky on Unsplash

Another way to avoid detraining is to keep the mindset up to be able to have a training regime and to keep the cardiovascular & muscular system going. In this case, the psychological aspect is a pinnacle. Some strategies use meditation, self-performance-assessments and visualisation to keep the mind motivated and bundled with the primary goal.

Not to mention the nutritional aspect, the key is to keep the diet on track and the metabolism in its full homeostasis. Having disciplined, balanced nutrition, according to your needs and adjusted to the current training reality (regime), will help to keep your energy sources and the optimal physiological function.

Even with all the precautions, the re-entry must be done progressively. Always assess the body response and don’t rely only on your muscular memory. A well-structured periodisation is essential. Never jump back straight to the point you were when you stopped. Get in touch with your Sports and Health professional before doing that, plan the way back with your coach. No one would like to have to re-stop due to an injury.

Be smart and get back to it!

Paulo Barroso / Solid Sports


Leitão, L, Pereira, A, Mazini, M, Venturini, G, Campos, Y, Vieira, J, Novaes, J, Vianna, J, da Silva, S & Louro, H 2019, ‘Effects of Three Months of Detraining on the Health Profile of Older Women after a Multicomponent Exercise Program’, International journal of environmental research and public health, vol. 16, no. 20, viewed 22 June 2020, <>. (1)

Esain, I.; Gil, S.M.; Bidaurrazaga-Letona, I.; Rodriguez-Larrad, A. Effects of 3 months of detraining on functional fitness and quality of life in older adults who regularly exercise. Aging Clin. Exp. Res. 2019, 31,503–510. [CrossRef] [PubMed] (2)