T Nation

6 Wks of No Lifting - Muscle Loss?


EDIT: One important thing I left out here.

~3 weeks weeks ago I took 2 weeks off after feeling like I pulled a rotator cuff muscle during fb db press (8 reps), nothing crazy. I was able to continue the workout but had some pain so intensity was less than it could've been, STILL A GOOD WORKOUT. I normally worked chest, shoulders and rotator cuffs in the same workout. I'm thinking I should have been more judicious in my rotator cuff exercises and that may led to my injury - too much weight used or something. THat night I had some pain in my shoulder, but nothing crazy. I spoke to a personal trainer yesterday who suggested I take (additional) 2 weeks off from upper body and use "band" training or bodyweight training. I have been working out for 10-1/2 years and can't remember missing time due to an injury.

Extra details to read if you want: Last Friday, I came back after 13 days of no weights. I was able to complete a full chest workout and shoulders and the next day didn't have any pain, just a bit of stiffness, alleviated w/some "warming up". I had a bit of trouble on back day in that I didn't feel confident trying pullups as I could feel some pressure when I hung from the bars. Instead, I chose to do pulldowns w/lighter weight and slower cadence. Arms was yesterday. I felt a bit tentative and doing do some lifts I'd ordinarily do, but got a decent workout nonetheless. I can feel that there is still something not quite healed w/my rotator cuff, but would like to continue working out as 2 weeks off was plenty for my taste. I don't don't want to turn weeks into months but I don't want to be too conservative either.


I have what appears to be a minor, albeit nagging, pulled rotator cuff. I can do all my lifts, I just tend to feel a bit of an ache around my shoulder that's more than normal.

Anyone have experience w/taking up to 6 weeks off from gym? Some are telling me I should take off for this long. I've been told by experienced lifters that there's a "muscle memory" involved that gets you back quickly to where you were previously.

Anyone w/a rotator cuff pull experience feel 6 weeks is a long time for just a "pull"? Any thoughts or experiences w/this would be great.

Also, I have access to Testosterone Enanthate - would this help to preserve muscle mass? I'm on TRT anyway and considering upping the dosage.


If there is no outside force put on muscle, muscle has no reason to grow thus it gets smaller.


atrophy is quick in starting

if its only a mild pull, take 2 weeks

anything after that is asking for muscle loss



What led to the injury in the first place? You should find out what is actually wrong with it (if you haven't already) and get it fixed rather than just take six weeks off and hope it works itself out. I have had shoulder problems in the past and can tell you first hand that just taking some time off doesn't always fix these things.

I did this on/off thing for 2 years a few years ago and made no overall progress on my upper body. Eventually I went to see an ART practitioner and did the neanderthal no more program and after some hard work fixed the imbalance that led to my multiple rotator cuff injuries. I still have problems with my shoulders if I don't stay on top of the pre-hab work or pay close attention to upper back work but it isn't anything that keeps me from lifting anymore.

There is some "muscle memory" and you will be able to get back to where you were quicker than it took to get there in the first place, but why set yourself back. Trust me, it's a frustrating thing and you will be impatient to get back where you were and that could lead to more injuries.


Dude, if a "bit of an ache" causes you to take 6 weeks off, you might as well give up making any decent progress over the long haul. I am just having a hard time even believing people are in the gym "training hard" but taking this much time off for every minor ache or soreness.

Your goal should be to figure out why you are causing this to happen at such an early stage of development (which I assume you are because no advanced lifter takes off 6 weeks for "a bit of an ache"). Backing off of the weight used to avoid aggravating it further makes more sense than ignoring it for 6 weeks and never understanding what you did wrong to begin with.

They should title this forum "soft core".


If you're really injured, get a qualified medical opinion.

Don't just take an extended break 'cause someone suggested it might be a good idea.


I also give this advice: Take six weeks off.

What? It's something I've never done on purpose. Oh sure, after this surgery or that surgery, I took time off, and when I got really sick, I took two weeks off. In hindsight, I should've listened to a friend who had studied sports training in another country. I asked him about how Americans trained. His response, "Well, the consensus is that you're all overtrained."

"What about me?"

"Dan, you're the poster child for overtraining."

Off the top of my head, I'd suggest that a hard training individual take about six weeks off a year. And, I mean off. No basketball tournaments, no aerobics classes, nothing.

Now, the sad thing is this, basically, those of you who don't train hard just decided to take the next six weeks off. Those who train hard will take those six weeks off when they're dead. I never understood taking time off until far too late in my career. I remember Dan Cantore, fresh from the 1976 Olympics, telling me he was taking some time to "regroup." My thought was, "The next Olympics are just four years away!" I could've had "more career" by more "regrouping."

  • Just some words of wisdom from Dan John. I'm currently taking 6 weeks off and I know that when I get back in Oct I'll be ready to rock it even harder... For me it seems to be one of the most difficult things ever but I've been working for years straight so It kinda makes sence.

If all the muscle you've worked so hard for could be depleted in 6 weeks it must not be very much!


Sometimes this board makes me feel like a weak little bitch,


Sometimes this board makes me feel like a hardcore badass motherfucker.

Guess which one this thread makes me feel like


Seriously, most of you who think like this do not train that hard...and if that is you in your avatar, excuse me for doubting that you train like someone who belongs in a strong man contest on ESPN.

I REALLY want to see the physiques of those of you who think you need damn near 2 months off every time you get "a bit of an ache".

My guess is, none of you look like the guys who have trained hard for years yet understood their bodies enough to train intelligently.

"Overtraining"? LOL. Yes, all of you Olympic level athletes sure do clog up the board.


you need to go to the gym today and tomorrow. you dont sound like you got any muscle to lose but you have muscle you can gain instead of being a lazy woosie


From my experience, you will lose muscle. I recently took 6 weeks off and im getting back into it now. Quite right about the memory thing though, strength has been coming back quickly.


how do you feel about two weeks of unloading or rest after eight weeks of training?


if you "have" to take 6 weeks off for your shoulder, work out something else to bring it up to or even beyond par... like squats. or do uni-lateral exercises for your non-bum shoulder while you try to figure out whats causing the pain.


I wouldnt take the advice in here. Anything else Id say rest a few days and keep lifting. But it's your rotator cuff, and those things get really fucked up fast. Take a week off, if it still doesnt feel any better take another week off and so on.

Good luck.


how do you feel about taking a 2 week break after 8-10 of training? I've always been taught that. 8-10 of a certain scheme, 2 weeks of reast, start a 2-3 week conditioning, then another 8-10 week of another sceme


Well, I've posted this question in MANY forums and these are by FAR the most interesting and controversial. The guys who post here are WITHOUT QUESTION, a different breed ;>) I like it.

First, let me say I appreciate all the responses I've gotten.

Second, I'll address the meat of this: Based on getting ~40 different responses and based on my own trigger-happy desire to get back in the gym as soon as possible I have come up w/this preliminary plan - continue rehabbing this MINOR pull I have, keep myself out of the gym (upper body) for 1 week, 2 week tops and somehow test where my rotator cuff is. This is going to be very hard for me. I am only slightly exaggerating when I say I have a love affair w/working out.

Wow, I'm really impressed w/the energy in this forum.


Simply taking weeks off won't fix it, he needs to figure out what's causing it and fix it. Rarely does anything, especially something like the rotator cuff, fix itself simply by taking time off. So he'll take like 4 weeks off, and take 2 weeks to get back to where he was again, his rotator cuff will fuck up again and hey its like 2 steps forward and 4 steps back. So it's better that while he's figuring out how to fix his shoulder, he work on something that doesnt stress out his RC... something like squats or unilateral exercises


I have often scheduled two week breaks in the past just because I felt I needed it. Generally after the first week I would be going crazy with energy and enthusiasm to get back to the gym that it was obvious that I had recovered.

Unless you have an actual injury rather than the aches and pains of short-term overtraining, I say you don't need more than a week off.


The only post I want to address individually is this one.

"Dude, if a "bit of an ache" causes you to take 6 weeks off, you might as well give up making any decent progress over the long haul."

Let me make something clear - this was NOT my idea and is the LAST thing I want to do. Some admin w/30,000 posts from another board who ostensibly has experience (I don't necessarily think this makes his word near gospel and I KNOW you don't.) After the admin made the post several others seemed to concur that that wouldn't be a bad idea; therefore I presented 6 weeks as a "worst case scenario". God willing, this won't turn into anything NEAR 6 weeks.


I would go batshit fucking crazy if I was forced to take six weeks off. And I say "forced" because there's no way in hell I would ever do that voluntarily.

And on the rotator cuff shit- taking six weeks off just means that in six weeks, it's going to hurt like a bitch again. It literally does nothing for you. What WOULD do something is beginning to research exercise protocols that can strengthen those muscles and increase your mobility in that joint. That's a solution... ironically, working more.

And this is from a guy who popped his shoulder in after it dislocated during a BJJ class, and waited exactly three days before getting on the bandwork for it.

OP, stop being a bitch.