Sifu Rebecca Knapp

Adult Student’s Corner

With the holidays approaching taking some time off from your Kung Fu training and fitness routines in general may be inevitable, whether it’s due to the height of cold and flu season, social commitments, family traditions, shopping, or inclement weather.

Be mindful though, that it doesn’t take long for the body to start losing muscle memory, strength, speed, endurance, aerobic power and anaerobic capacity. In just days or weeks some of these can start to decline—“use it or lose it” is truer than you may think, and it could take longer to get it back.

Key points:

  1. If you’re not training for more than a month (<4 weeks is considered “short term” by some research standards), expect that your metabolism will change (meaning you will start to burn less fat and store more of it.)
  2. Certain aspects of your “fitness” are impacted sooner than others during a training “hiatus”. For instance, if you tend to focus more on cardio vs strength training, you’ll start losing your mojo faster. Cardiovascular fitness is measured by how much of the oxygen that you take in, actually gets used (it’s called VO2 max). Somewhere between 2 and 4 weeks off, that VO2 max really starts to slide steadily downhill until it eventually levels off.

In terms of strength, you’ve got more time on your side – effects on strength are pretty minimal in the first two weeks.

  1. How long you’ve been training for makes a difference in how much of a hit your skill and fitness level will take. The longer you’ve been training (consistently), the longer you’ll maintain your fitness.

Here’s what you can do to minimize the loss of your martial prowess: 

  1. Try to fit in some short, intense workouts.If possible, just cut down the frequency of your training by one or two thirds, and commit to a few short training sessions but keep the intensity up. The key is not how often or how long you work out for, but how intense. You can feasibly stave off losses to your cardiovascular fitness by doing a few short intense workouts. Make a schedule if it helps and stick to it.
  2. Train with someone – so you have another person to hold you accountable and to motivate you when it’s too easy to say “skip it”.
  3. Train in your brain. I always know that I KNOW a technique or form when I can do it in my mind in great and precise detail.
  4. If you have to choose between an aerobic or strength focus, worry more about cardio. Remember it’s the cardio system that declines faster than your strength.
  5. For every decadent treat you stuff into your face, drop and do 20 pushups!
  6. Eat your entire Christmas dinner in Horse-stance. OK, now I’m just being silly.

Happy Holidays Everyone!