T Nation

Be Honest....Off Weeks


How many of you REALLY (honestly) take back-off-weeks as is suggested by many people (here on T-Nation and other places)?

If you do.....when do you do them?
How do you not go crazy?


Unless you are training for a competition and completely burned out as a result, I think people overuse this concept. Your training shouldn't be poutting you on the brink of killing yourself so much that you need to take entire weeks off on a periodic basis. If I have ever taken that long off, it was because of a natural disaster.


I use un-loading weeks usually once every four weeks but I don't take a week off very often. during my un-loading weeks I usually just perform about two-thirds of the volume and back off the intensity a little bit. If I ever take a week off from the gym completely then I would spend that week cycling or playing some racquet sports or something.



I don't do off-weeks. I've found that not taking breaks keeps me focused on diet and planning meals. If I stayed out of the gym for an entire week, I would probably starve.

The sum is more than the parts.


I take one week off from resistance\weight training every 12 weeks. I still hit the gym, but generally just do light cardio, i.e. incline treadmill walking, and AB work for that week.

In general, I feel better when I come back, and usually do a week of light weight\high rep work to get back into it before going heavy again.


I've been on an "Off Week" for the last 20+ years... working on getting "On".




It seems I hear the word Over Training more often these days. And the people using the term and complaining about it would not know OT if it hit them in the head. Nor are they even beginning to tap the surface of OT. So I agree I see people basically getting "bored" or "lazy" in 4 weeks and say ohhh I think I need a week off. I am getting OT. And I see some trainers use it on there clients. I just shake my head. IMO Sorry I kinda went off there because I have heard this soooo much lately it just makes me laugh.

I do train intensly and then I have been known to back off. I have taken a week off when I need the rest and do come back better than before. I usually guage how I am feeling. If I am getting unusually tired. I start decreasing in strength. Oh yes I get really bitchy too. LOL. It usually goes in 12 week cycles exept when I was working on building muscle it happened in 8 weeks. I do continue with light cardio activity during rest week.

I do believe resting in between programs. It is important but not totally slacking off. Sometimes if I need the mental break I take a day or 2 off at the most.


Depending on several factors I will take a week anywhere from 12-15 weeks.

I think it's definately not an overrated concept either, so I'll have to disagree with X on this one. While taking a week off every 4 weeks is a bit much, after 3 months or so of intense training, stacked on top of our stressful lives, and other various stresses the body is well deserved of the rest. And by that I mean 1-2x week of light activity, droppage in volume, intensity and duration, but still active.

I notice it in my clients as well if we don't take an active recovery week from time to time (again duration is dependent on several variables here).


There is a difference between taking an off week and having an unloading week. I will have an unloading week where I drop either the load or the volume, every 4-6 weeks. I might take an off week, where I do no strength training at all, once every 3-4 months.


Amen. I also think there's a lot of embellishing when people talk about how hard they work out. You know the type I'm talking about. Those who say they can barely drive home or need to puke when they're done...Off weeks are not needed with 90% of these people.


The only time I'll take any time off is if I'm sick. I had the flu about a month ago, so I took that week off. Prior to that, I hadn't taken any time off in over a year.


I just took a week off - it was much-needed, and unplanned. Correction: I had planned to take it in another few weeks (my last week off was over Christmas - I believe a week off every 10 - 12 weeks is really beneficial). I had also planned to come into the gym and still do cardio.

But I took it last week. Even though I showed up to the gym every day, and changed, I ended up going home without even doing cardio. I felt so utterly drained, and realized my muscles had simply not recovered, and my joints were sore and I was risking injury. Cardio was not what my body needed; it simply needed rest, food, sleep, and time to heal. Every day I reassessed, and although I was recovering, I didn't bounce back in a day or two; it took the whole week.

Every time I've taken a week off, I've come back stronger than ever. Today, my legs actually look like they're bigger and more muscular than they did a week ago. Perhaps I could have avoided taking the week off if I'd planned an unloading week earlier, who knows. But I took the week, and trust me, it was much-needed; when your body screams 'stop!' you ignore it at your own peril and the peril of your long-term training goals.

I admit, it's hard to find the balance; I tend to be very driven, which is how overtraining (real overtraining) happens. It takes experience and sensitivity to know when to push, and when to back off. Some people habitually back off out of laziness; others push themselves to the point of breakdown. Knowing when to back off is crucial for a driven athlete - training to the point where you're losing strength is obviously counter-productive.


The main point is that I don't think beginners know the difference. Pros usually take time off after a contest. If I knew someone was training so hard that they were running themselves into the ground, I would get them to take a long look at their overall approach because something is a little off.

Your training should be making you stronger, not tearing you down. We have all had periods where stresses in life can affect our training. Very often, however, I find I am even more focused in the gym when going through periods like that as a release.


I don't really take a full week off. When I go into a new routine after 4 weeks, I'll do 2 full-body workouts my "off week".


I take a week off when I have finals.


Point taken - as I said, I do tend to overextend and drive too hard, and if I had more self-discipline (how ironic that some of us need to discipline ourselves NOT to overtrain), or if I built in regular unloading, my week off may not have been necessary. It's all part of my own learning process! But getting to that point of exhaustion has taught me more about my own body, its limits, and how to devise a training program that works best for me.


Now THAT'S a good point. I know where my limits are because I have actually reached them before. I don't understand those who are so afraid of overtraining that they never find what they are capable of.


I can't do nothing. I would be climbing the walls. But I do take a break from lifting from time to time or if I'm feeling burnt out. Instead, I'll play a game of pick-up soccer, go for a good run, do some pushups and sit-ups, some bodyweight pull-ups. Nothing too taxing.


just took my first week off ever, training ~3 years intelligently, that wasn't forced due to injury. been dieting hard and really working hard in the gym. only reason I really felt it was necessary was I am taking 19 credits and working on the weekends so my sleep and everything else have been suffering. probly could have kept going in the week.

I felt ok on mon and went to the gynm but the rest of the week I just needed to let myself relax, upped the cal's and slept more and now I feel great and am about to hit the gym after my next class. I feel like it was extremely helpful and sometime you need it, stress is stress your body can only take so much and when you have tons of other things going on in your life and you try to keep everything going full force you are going to need to back off some. just my thoughts. BB


I agree, as I feel that after a week off from training altogether, I come back feeling refreshed and rejuvanted. I compete as a bodybuilder, so after my shows is a natural time to take a week or so off, and then again a few months later I take some time off. Sometimes I don't want to take time off b/c I get stuck into the routine, but I've learned that time off is exactly what I need at those points.