T Nation

Back Off Week During Cutting?


Would it make sense to take a back off week during a cutting phase or would that risk losing too much LBM? Or would an unloading week be better? (And if so, should I reduce volume or load?)

I'm using a basic 5x5 protocol 3x/week. I also do cardio on 3 of my off days.


Depends on how severe your calorie deficit, but esp. during the later stages of dieting, you may find that the 5x5 is a bit much.

In any event, in a chronic energy deficit, you'll want to take more low-stress weeks than you might otherwise.


No, you need to keep lifting heavy weights to give your muscle reason to stay, with strength training. If you reduce anything, don't reduce load.


I disagree. You are much more likely to overtrain while experiancing a calorie deficit, and so deloading is even MORE important.

If you overtrain, you will have an even harder time keeping LBM than you would if you take an easy week.

Unless your on some extreme diet, you will not lose that much in one week, if at all.


I agree and you may think about (if this is a LONG cut and not for an upcoming show/deadline) also losen the diet a bit. Not go crazy but up the intake a touch be more at maint. and rest up. You will come back fresh, shouldnt really gain fat be able to hit it hard and heavy and dropping the cals back down expect some major progress toward your goal.


Thanks for the replies. I've definitely been feeling the effects of overtraining. I'm doing a slow long cut. Should I stop all lifting completely? Should I also stop my cardio? I'm assuming I should bump up the cals back to maintenance?


I'd do the opposite. Take a deload week in which you don't worry about losing weight, and worry about recovering.

I would ditch the cardio (you will not regress from not doing cardio, but you can regress if not lifting), and cut your overall volume and intensity down for 1 week.


what I was saying is not reduce load, but reduce volume to avoid overtraining. The reason which i gave previously, I learned from authors on this site.

Also, if you've been lifting heavy w/out much cardio, doing cardio will help to recover which is convenient since you're cutting. just do a few heavy lifts too.


It's not that big a deal. Cutting intensity for one week is not going to cause him to go catabolic. I personally promise.
As for cardio, during a deload week, you simply don't need it. While it can be helpful in some situations for getting blood into muscles, it is not needed.


I think backoff weeks during cutting are an excellent idea. I would suggest some bodyweight work and light cardio. But I would pair it with eating at maintenance. Let your body replenish itself. Give it a week to recoup. Resume normal diet and training after this week. In my experience, your body will take you, and if anything, fat loss will proceed at a faster pace.