What Happens When You Stop Working Out?

Sarah Cann Training

Ok, we’ve got to address this WAY TOO common issue many busy wives & mom’s have: Skipping workouts.

I bring this up today because I run into past clients frequently and often I hear, “I haven’t worked out in weeks/months, etc. and I feel so out of shape already!”


That’s what happens (among other things) when we stop working out.

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty.

I just want to present a real picture of what happens to our bodies when a rest day turns into a rest week, month, and so on.

Listen, I get it, believe me.  There are lots of reasons to take a break from your workout routine — family demands, vacation, non-stop rain, work obligations.  Even the most dedicated may be forced to stop for a while due to sore muscles, illness, or injury. Don’t push yourself to work out every day without a break because your body needs rest and recovery days to repair muscle fibers and strengthen itself between workouts.

Training recovery is a critical component of an exercise program, and for most people, this consists of one to three days of rest depending on intensity of the activity

However, if you go beyond a week without activity, you begin to experience the effects of “detraining” (also called deconditioning), a phenomenon in which you lose the beneficial effects of training.

Remember the human body (even a fit human body) is a very sensitive system—and physiological changes (muscle strength or a greater aerobic base) that develop through training will simply disappear if your training dwindles.  Since the demand of training isn’t present, your body has nothing to adapt to—and just slinks back toward baseline.

Today I am going to fill you in on understanding what’s really going on with your body after about 14 days of too much rest and what happens when we stop working out.  

My goal is to give you some immediate motivation to get moving again!

Here’s what happens to your body when you stop working out:

Visible Changes in Your Body Composition  

Many signs of deconditioning are not always physically visible to the naked eye—but you should expect a loss of muscle mass and size and the accumulation of body fat.  

A few factors can contribute to an increase in your body fat when you stop working out:
~First, your calorie requirement will decrease.  As you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows down as your muscles lose some of their ability to burn fat.
~Secondly, you’re not burning the same amount of calories as you used to because you’re moving around and working out less, so if you don’t adjust your food intake accordingly, those additional calories will be stored as fat. Something you should be wary of is visceral fat aka belly fat.  

So, if you eat the same way you’ve been eating while you’re on a workout hiatus, your body won’t be burning the extra calories without an adjustment to your diet– and you will likely put on weight.

Muscle Loss 

A sizable decrease in muscle mass, capillary size, and density; bone density; flexibility; and overall blood flow and energy production are all side effects of constantly skipping workouts.  And while your body will hang onto strength gains longer than aerobic gains, throwing in the training towel will gradually lead to a loss of lean muscle mass, muscular strength, endurance, and your muscles simply won’t fire the same way they used to because of underuse.

What’s happening? As muscle fibers realize they don’t need to store energy, they will store less glycogen—which leads to something called atrophy (or the shrinking of muscle fibers). When muscle fibers shrink, they need more stimuli to contract.  So you’ll have to work harder to see results--yikes!

Your aerobic system can go down the toilet:  Aerobic and endurance fitness reduce a lot faster than muscle mass—it’s the performance factor that is reduced the fastest. Physiologically, the changes are stark, too.

Stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped out of the heart to the body) reduces, the size of mitochondria (the power plants within a cell, linked to fitness health) reduce by almost 50 percent, heart rate increases, cardiac output reduces, and your VO2 max—or the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use (a gold standard of physical fitness) decreases about one percent a day.

Another setback: Your lactate threshold—or how hard and long you can work out until your muscles tell you to stop—begins to drop.  This stinks because working out at or close to your lactate threshold is a great way to build fitness; if yours is low you won’t last very long, and thus you’ll reap fewer benefits from a gym session.  You begin to lose endurance capability as well as the ability to perform at higher intensities.

You may feel dumber. 

Your brain suffers when you don’t workout.  Sorry to be so blunt but ask anyone who regularly works out and they know what I’m talking about. Since exercise helps pump oxygen to the brain—one reason why you may feel sharp after a workout—you may feel a little cloudy or not as ‘on’ after weeks removed from your workout regime.

Why? One factor at play: Both aerobic and strength training boost the neurotransmitter brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps promote the growth of new brain cells and enhances connections between existing ones. Some research even links low levels of BDNF to depression. This makes exercise an important part of maintaining cognitive function.
Dopamine levels also drop as your days in the gym become a thing of the past, which may make you more anxious and fatigued. This feeds into motivation—if you’re tired and stressed you may avoid the gym, creating a vicious cycle.  The longer the time off, the more difficult a time people have starting up once again.

Your sleep sucks.

Because exercise places both metabolic (or energetic) and mechanical stress on your muscle tissue, it can help promote good sleep. After all, it’s in deep REM cycles of sleep that your body produces hormones (like growth hormone and testosterone) to repair muscle tissue damaged during exercise. A lack of exercise will lead to higher levels of energy in the body and reduce the need for deep sleep, which could lead to restless or insufficient sleep.

Now I don’t want to be all doom & gloom today!!

So what’s the best way to stop fitness loss?

Don’t abandon workout routine in the first place...duh.

But seriously though,

here are some tips to help minimize the negative impact of skipping your workout routine:

  • Crosstrain or try “light” activity that’s not part of your usual regimen, such as yoga, walking, or bike rides.  HUGE WIN for busy Moms who can follow behind their kids riding their bikes or playing on the playground!

  • Scale back your workout schedule if time is the issue.  Aim for 1-2 sessions per week, break your workout into several shorter sessions, or incorporate a few sessions of high-intensity interval training that can be done at home without any equipment.

  • Try working unaffected muscle groups if you’ve stopped exercising due to soreness or injury such as a broken bone or ruptured tendon. Legs sore--work upper body, shoulders sore--work legs, etc.

  • Keep your nutrition in check.  Maintain good nutrition while consuming adequate protein to minimize muscle loss.

One thing that will work in your favor: muscle memory.  

Essentially, your muscles have special cells in your muscle fibers that “remember” previous training movements so that when you get back to working out after an extended layoff, you are able regain lost muscle quicker.

Patience and persistence is key.  

Remember, not all is lost – you can always restart your training routine.

It’s just a small break but don’t unpack there.

If you need some quick workout ideas to jumpstart your routine, grab a copy of my free metcon guide.  It includes 5 of my favorite MetCons that all take less than 20 minutes and require minimal equipment! Download your copy here.  

Talk to you soon,


Three Time Saving Workouts for Busy Moms

Sarah Cann Training

I am so excited to cover some topics specifically requested by you ladies!  

My friend & client, Kim is a wife, mom of 4, and runs a successful design business.  All that background info to say she’s pretty busy! Her older children are back in school (yay!) but has two toddlers to chase around at home all while still trying to get work done.  I’m exhausted just hearing her day!

Kim’s makes it to crossfit 1-2x each week but was feeling like a failure on the days she couldn’t fit the time in. She wasn’t sure what workouts to do on the other days, especially when she’s working out at the house with the kids home.  What’s a busy Mom to do?!

Let me fill you in on what worked for me, Kim, and so many of my clients who are in a busy season of life.  Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite time saving workouts which are especially helpful for busy Moms. Think of these workouts as your go-to when you feel like you’ve got ZERO time in your day!  

First things first, instead of having Kim continue to try each week to stick to a normal lifting split, we adjusted her training schedule to make the workouts more realistic for her busy season.  

The key here is to make time in your schedule for 1-2x gym/crossfit sessions AND plan for 1-2 at-home training sessions each week.  When planning your week, write down these days/times and give yourself a day for margin when you may need to move things around.

With opportunities to train coming by so rarely as a busy mom, we have to make full use of whatever time we can squeeze out to scramble off to the gym for a quick session.

When trying to decide what workouts to stick to during your busy season, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • The workouts need to be short in duration (preferably under 30 mins, but anticipate at least 2 days lasting 45 minutes)

  • You need to work as many body parts as possible per workout (3 or more)

  • You’ve got to keep the intensity high.

Now that you’ve got the guidelines, here are the three time saving workout sessions every busy Mom needs in her weekly routine!

1. A HIIT Session.  HIIT is an acronym for high-intensity interval training. The premise is simple: intersperse rounds of high-intensity aerobic with lower intensity rounds. Studies have consistently shown that this style of training helps to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system to burn more fat as compared to steady-state exercise. Better yet, you’ll achieve these superior results in less time--awesome!!  So, what does hiit look like? Think of Sprints, hill repeats, cycling intervals, etc. Or checkout my recent post for a few suggestions!

2.  A Circuit-based Weight Training Session.  Circuit training is carried out by performing a set of an exercise then moving directly to a different exercise and then another and then another…all with little or no rest between sets/rounds. The idea is to keep your heart rate elevated so that you continue burning a maximum number of calories as you lift. It’s a good way to build muscle and strip away fat: a win/win for us!

The best way to approach circuit-based weight training is by structuring your workout so you work an agonist muscle and then its antagonist. Here’s an example: perform a chest move, follow it with a back exercise, then a quad move, with a hamstring lift, then an abdominal exercise. Here’s what the workout might look like, 3 Rounds/15 Reps each:  DB Chest Press, Standing bentover DB row, Goblet Squat, Glute Bridges, then Bicycles. After you complete a round of the circuit you can perform the entire sequence again another time or two for a terrific metabolic kickstart!

3.  A Compound Training Session.  You might not have heard the term “compound training” but you’re probably at least familiar with the concept. Simply stated, compound training involves combining two different exercises into one movement. While technically any two exercises can be used, it’s generally best to pair a lower body move with an upper body move. Like a squat into a shoulder press, a lunge into a bicep curl…get creative and you can come up with an almost endless array of moves.  String together a few compound moves with short rest intervals and you’ll burn a tone of extra calories while simultaneously cutting your workout time in half!

Being consistent with your workouts is key to hitting your body goals.  

Remember that as a busy Mom you need to accept that you’ll have to get creative with your schedule to make your workouts happen.  

I know that by incorporating these time saving workouts you will get the most out of each session!


P.S. Don’t forget, this weekend is the last chance to register for the September round of the Chiseled program!   We will be using all 3 of these workouts weekly and most importantly you’ll get daily accountability & support from me to help you stay on track.  We start on Monday, September 17th. You can get details via the link below: www.sarahcanntraining.com/chiseled

Reshape Your Glutes & Hamstrings with These Five Moves

Sarah Cann Training

Let’s establish something right off the jump of this post...

A majority of women choose to work with me in the Chiseled program because I build killer glutes.  

*Yes, they also shed body fat, get stronger, faster, and feel more confident.

But the feedback I receive most often from my clients in the program is that their waist got smaller but their booties got bigger (out not wide haha!).


Ladies, it’s totally ok to want to reshape your legs & glutes. Own that sh**.

So how does one get on track for a banging booty?


*Squats are the simplified answer. So much goes into building our glutes & hamstrings but one step at a time Grasshopper!
Squats are probably the best lower body exercise there is, and not just because they work the glutes. Squats are functional, targeting every muscle in the lower body and mimicking a move you do all day long.

know the basics of a good weighted squat:

  • A heavy weight is ideal for this exercise.

  • Hold weights in each hand. You can hold the weights either at your sides or over your shoulders.

  • Begin with feet about hip-distance apart.

  • Bend the knees and lower into a squat, sending the hips back behind you like you're sticking your butt out.

  • Think of sending your butt back to you when you squat, putting the emphasis on your glutes and thighs instead of on the knees.

  • Go as low as you can, then push back to start.

Now that you’ve got the basic squat down, let’s get to work.


Sumo Squat. The sumo squat is a wide-legged squat with a focus on the inner thighs, a great variation on traditional squats. Because your toes are turned out at an angle, the key to keeping this move safe is to make sure your knees stay in line with the toes. How far you squat will depend on the flexibility of your inner thighs, so only go as far as you comfortably can.  Watch the demo here.

Wall Squat with Medicine Ball Hold.  A variation on the wall squat is to squeeze a medicine ball between the knees. This targets more inner thigh at the same time you're firing the muscles of the quads, glutes and hamstrings for added intensity. Watch the demo here.

Goblet Squat.  Goblet Squats are a fantastic squat variation, especially if having a weight on your back, like in barbell squats, is awkward or uncomfortable. Holding the weight in front and close to your body will help you keep your torso upright as you squat down, protecting the back and the knees. Watch the demo here.

Marching Wall Squats.  I love to use these to fire up my glutes as part of a warm-up for leg day.  They build endurance and pre-exhaust your legs to maximize muscle growth. As an added bonus, this move challenges us to engage our core to stay balanced. Watch the demo here.

Plie Squat Pickups.  Plie Squat Pickups is a dynamic version of a basic plie squat by adding some intensity. The idea is to squat low to place the weight on the floor, stand up, then squat back down to pick up the weight in the other hand. The key to this squat is to, first, use a heavy weight to get the most out of the move. Second, try to get as much squat as possible - In other words, more squat, less reach. Keep your torso up rather than rounding at the back. If you're inner thighs are tight, you can straddle a step or raised platform to make the move easier. Watch the demo here.

If you’ve been sticking with basic squats week after week, shake up your routine with these variations!


P.S.  Registration is closing soon for the next round of the Chiseled program.  We start on Monday and there a just a couple of spots left! You'll complete effective fat burning training sessions partnered with science-based nutrition strategies to help you achieve your best body ever.  Click here to register.

**Don't forget discounts are available for Returning Clients or when you sign up with a friend.  Scroll to the FAQ section here to checkout all the options.

The BEST Cardio for Gravity Defying Glutes

Sarah Cann Training

In case you didn’t know, your glutes, hips and thighs includes some of the most important, and powerful, muscles of your body.  Our glutes, specifically, are the largest group of muscles we have.

Frequently I hear from women how they don’t want to lose their booty while trying to lose body fat.  Have no fear ladies, today I’m sharing with you the BEST cardio options for torching fat without sacrificing those cakes!

Here are your go-to cardio options for gravity defying glutes:

Walking.  Walking activates your glutes and hamstrings, particularly as you walk up an incline (mountain, hill or treadmill).  The Plan: If you're on a treadmill, shake things up by increasing your incline periodically throughout your workout (i.e., increase your incline 1% every minute for five minutes, then reduce your incline in the same manner, repeating six or more times). If outdoors, find a long, medium-grade hill in your neighborhood and walk up it as fast as you can, then slowly walk back down and repeat 5 to 10 times. Add this type of workout to your weekly routine to burn more calories and work your butt and legs.

Sprints/Intervals.  Have you ever noticed that sprinters have great butts? That's because sprinting is a powerful activity that requires incredible strength. You don't have to train like an Olympic sprinter to get killer glutes, but you can introduce sprinting (also called "fartlek training") into your routine. The plan: On your next walk/run, choose an object in the distance and sprint to it as fast as you can. Slow to a walk until you're fully recovered and repeat about 5 to 6 times.  If you’re on a treadmill, increase your speed to a challenging pace for 30 seconds-1 minute, then recover.

Cycling.  Riding a bike is an incredible exercise for your hips, thighs and glutes, whether you ride outside or indoors at a spin class or on a stationary bike. The plan: On your next cycling workout, pay attention to your technique; get your glutes involved by leading with your heel when you push down on the pedals. On the upswing, pull up on the pedal (if you've got foot straps) to make sure you're using every part of your legs during your workout. Isolations are another option: Increase your resistance, lift your butt off the seat and slowly pedal using ONLY your legs (your body shouldn't move or bounce).  I LOVE to work in bike sprints at least once-a-week! Warmup for 3-5 minutes at an easy resistance, set your timer for 20 seconds work/1 minute rest, for 8 rounds. During the sprint portion, increase the resistance to make it challenging for those 20 seconds. Then recover back at an easy pace & resistance.

Remember, NOT all cardio is created equal.  

Using challenging HIIT/Interval circuits like I’ve described today are ideal for fat loss, preserving lean muscle, and building strong gravity defying glutes!

You can expect to see each one of these glute focused cardio workouts in the Chiseled program!  By using the most effective training methods and science-back nutrition strategies I will show you how to achieve your best body ever.

The next round begins on Monday, September 17th and there are just 5 spots still available for new clients! Get the program details and snag your spot here. Let’s get to work!


The Diet Rules You Need to Break in order to See Real Results

sarah cann

Are you still following some of the same old school dieting rules and expecting different results?  If you're serious about shedding body fat, there are a few popular old school dieting rules that you need to break TODAY.  

Some of these are eating myths that we probably witnessed our Mother’s use when we were kids.  Hello?! Does anyone remember, “Just a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner”--I remember doing that one in high school *insert eye roll* lol!  The other rules are beliefs based on a trendy diet fad.

Regardless of where these rules came from, your aspirations for a lean toned look is likely to fail if you blindly follow them.  Today I’m sharing the diet rules you need to break in order to see real maintainable results.

Check this list and make sure you get the facts.  By breaking these rules you’ll drop body fat faster and move that much closer to your best body goals!

Diet Myth #1: "I should eat more often to avoid starvation mode."
Diet Reality:  There is nothing wrong with eating small frequent meals to keep yourself from overeating at meal time. You never want to get so hungry that you binge. But if you think that eating more often is more effective for weight loss, you're wrong.  Consider following an intermittent fasting routine throughout your week. IF (Intermittent Fasting) has been shown to increase your metabolism and hunger hormones that are necessary in order to burn fat.

Diet Rule #2: "Avoid carbs. They cause weight gain."
Diet Reality: Carbs don't cause weight gain. Starch doesn't cause weight gain, either. You'll gain weight if you eat too many calories, regardless of whether the calories are carbs, fat, or protein. Some people avoid starchy carbs because they usually have little nutritional value and because you are likely to get hungry again quickly if you eat them.  Consider upping your starchy carbs based on your training cycle. Or implement a carb cycling routine, alternating between high and low carb days act as a way to keep your body guessing which can prevent a metabolism slow down.

Diet Rule #3: "Cheat days are good for my diet."
Diet Reality: Cheat days/meals and diets that routinely call for them sound like a great idea because they allow dieters to eat some of the foods that they crave. This is probably why the trend has caught on so quickly. But there's a downside to taking a day off from your diet — and it may cost you a few pounds on the scale.  You’re actually less likely to reach your weight loss goals when you have regular cheat days. This is simply due to having more calories than you’d originally planned and throwing your weekly overall calorie deficit into a surplus.
What’s the solution?  Follow a strategic refeed day once per week depending on your goals.  Plan that day out to the best of your ability. And most importantly track everything that day.  When you see it in black & white, you’re less likely to let it go ape and blow your hard work.

Listen, there are exceptions to every rule. While some of these old school diet rules were originally based on reasonable evidence, some of them have changed over the years (thanks to further research) and no longer make sense.

If you’re adamant about following a diet rule, just make sure you know WHY.  Knowing WHY gives you the tools to see real fat loss and body recomposition changes for the long haul!

The Chiseled program is a rule breaker.  By using the most effective training methods and science-back nutrition strategies I will show you the WHY and the HOW to achieve your best body ever!  Learn more about the program here and let’s get started.