One thing that many of our clients have been asking over the lockdown period while training at home with limited equipment is how much strength they may have lost.
Will you loose strength if you go for a significant period of time without lifting weights that you were lifting previously? Yes you will. However before you panic, it’s not all bad. Strength is lost at a much slower rate, about 60-70% slower, than aerobic capacity and muscular endurance (both of which will have been easier to train at home with limited equipment) so the loss in strength gains, although they will be noticeable, won’t be as bad as you may think and any loss can be rebuilt quickly with a well thought out training programme.
Another thing to consider is muscle memory, or what should be more accurately called neural / muscle memory. When you get stronger, your body is not just increasing muscle strength through myofibril hypertrophy (increase in size of contractile units within muscle fibres) , it is also stimulating untapped, dormant muscle fibres, that are needed to lift additional load to your previous max. When rebuilding strength after a break in training these muscle fibres will be more easily tapped into and hypertrophy will come quicker than it did initially. There are no hard and fast rules as to how long it will take you to rebuild but it will take no where near as long to get back to your previous best as it did to get there initially.
In summary, you may have lost a bit of strength. However it likely won’t be as bad as you think and it can be rebuilt quickly.