T Nation

Calories on Off Weeks


Hi, i would like to know how much I should drop my calories on the weeks I rest from training. I usually eat about 3600kcal on training weeks, which are 3 weeks, followed by an off week. (Jack Reapes article).


What are your goals? Age? Stress factors? Training experience? See what I'm getting at? You may not need to take the 4th week completely off, doing some active recovery is very beneficial, hence the back off week. Anyways, drop your calories a little bit if you're worried about fat gain. If you're hungry, eat though. The point of the back-off is to recover, not cut calories too drastically and shortchange yourself.


I'm 19 years old, my goal is muscle building, though not bulking.

I used to train for several weeks without taking an off week (up to 10 weeks) and I found that my training motivation would go down as the weeks continued to pass, and this is the worse thing that can happen to someone who loves working out. My results have improved since taking more off weeks.

THe three weeks I train I do so very intensely though because that is how I like to train. I lift 3 times per week, and on the other days I like to do a tabata workout (4 minutes but very intense form of cardio).

Stress factors for me would be university, I am a medical student so that can be very stressful during exam weeks.


Given your age, I wouldn't recommend taking the 4th week completely off. If you took every 6th or 7th week off, that would be different, but you're at a stage to make the best gains of your life right now. During the 4th week, do some active recovery work(low volume but helps with blood flow and helping recovery) If your goal is to build muscle, I still recommend eating above maintenance calories.

Since you say you're not bulking, I assume you'd like to "stay cut". That's fine, but just realize you won't realize your potential to increase size and strength if you worry too much about fat gain. Good luck.


I would say to take every 9th week off. I train very intensely also, and this seems to be manageable (and works with most of the programs on this site). If you do this, then there really is no need to drop calories during the "off" week. I believe Lonnie Lowery mentioned in one of his articles that your body often times grows as much during an "off" week (provided that it was preceded by intense training) as it does during a training week.

As far as your schedule, have you considered doing tabata on the SAME days that you lift? This would give you real OFF days and would give the CNS a break as well.

RIT Jared