How Much Time Off is Too Much?

I’m currently halfway through a 10 day vacation with no weights available and no gyms nearby. I’m doing core work and pushups every day (not crazy volume–a few minutes of core and 50 pushups) as well as walking on the beach for 2-3 miles each afternoon.

This is a family vacation so I had no choice but to go. I left in the middle of a 5/3/1 cycle, which frustrates me because I had just hit a few major PRs in the days leading up to the vacation. Like I said, I’m halfway through my vacation. I’m doing what I can, but I’m afraid that by the time I get back, I will have lost all that I’ve gained in the last 6-8 weeks. That leads me to my main question: how much time off is too much? Also, for those of you who have taken 7-10 days off before (unrelated to injury or sickness – I know that can affect your body differently than a vacation), how did you perform when you got back in the gym?

Part of me feels like this will help me a bit because I’ve been going pretty hard for the last few months. I can’t remember the last time I took more than 2-3 days off. However, the other part of me feels like I’m going to get back in the gym and instead of benching 225x10 (my most recent PR) I’ll hit 225x6 and be right back to where I was 2 months ago.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and all that, guys. I know I’m just crying over spilled milk right here, but I want to know what I can expect when I get back to a barbell.

Did you know that your connective tissue (ligaments/tendons etc) repair a lot slower than muscle does? By having deloads or holidays, it allows these connective tissues to repair themselves.

Don’t stress about 10days or 2 weeks. In fact stressing about it is probably worse than the actual taking time off.

FYI I’m not saying that you will lose no strength but it shouldn’t be anything major and it WILL come back very quickly.

1 Like

Think of being on your deathbed, looking back at your life. Are you going to say: “Gee, I’m glad I missed out on my family vacations because I crushed my PR’s on a 531 cycle while my wife and kids were on the beach.”

Working out is great, and it sounds like it’s part of your life. Don’t allow it to be your life. Taking breaks from it, while still being active like it sound like you’re being, are going to allow you to be better in the long run, both in and out of the gym. Who cares if you hit your PRs a week or two later than you would have if you didn’t take the break? What possible difference can that make in the scheme of things?


Have your break. You’ll come back fresh and itching to lift. By the time week 3 of 5/3/1 comes around you’ll be hitting new PRs.

1 Like

Like a month+.

I know BB but Ronnie Coleman would deliberatley take off 3 months after his final show of the season and keep geting stronger year after year

1 Like

Grow Like a New Lifter Again?

Dr Greg Nuckols’ provides some interesting research on how taking vacation time off from training enables you to make progressive gains in the long run.

Taking vacation time off from lifting falls into,

"The General Adaptation Syndrome

The foundation of Periodization Training revolves around “The General Adaptation Syndrome” from Hans Selye, MD, PhD in 1923.

“The General Adaptation Syndrome” (GAS) revolves around how the body and organisms adapt to stress.

When the right amount of stress is provided and you allow yourself to recover, you become stronger. This (GAS) is the foundation of…

Periodization Training

Periodization Training revolves around cyclical training periods that involve Planned Progressive Overload that push you into…


Overreaching means you have push yourself to the limit in a training program. Overreaching mean you are slightly overtrained.

The Recovery, Rebound Effect

To maintain progress, a Planned Recovery Period need to follow overreaching. Recovery is where you grow, become bigger and stronger.

Planned Recover Period

That mean De-Loading; dropping you training load down to between 80% of what you were doing. Then progressively increasing the load to a new personal best over a period of weeks. NOT days.

The Optimal De-Load Periodization Plan

The optimal de-loading plan revolves around taking 3 week or longer to work up to and past your previous best.

Another form of Planned Recover is (as Dr Greg Nuckols states) is taking vacation time off.

Periodization Training and Planned Vacation Time off from training allows you to physically recover and rebound back, with more strength.

It also allows you to mentally rebound back, too. As Yogi Berra said…

90% of The Game is Half Mental

The ability to push yourself in training is mentally driven.

Not only can you physically overreach, you can also mentally overreach. Mentally overreaching equates to simply burning out.

Thus, Planned Recovery Period via De-Loads and Vacation Time Off from training ensure that you come back physically stronger and mentally refreshed, enabling you to make new personal records.


Yes, your going to Bench Press LESS that your previous best of 225 X 10.

Coming back and trying to pick up where you left off benching 225 is counterproductive. It ensure that you are going to regress in you attempt to bench 225 X 10; you’ll struggle to do that, at best.

Return to Training

  1. Start off with a lighter Bench Press Load. The initial lighter stress allows allows your body to adapt and become stronger.

Bench Press Training Load: The first week back (if you working on 10 Reps) work up to around 185 lbs (82%) of your 225 lb, 10 Rep Max.

Over the next four weeks, increase your top end set of 10 Repetition by 15 lbs.


Week 1: 185 X 10 Reps

Week 2: 200 X 10 Reps

Week 3: 215 X 10 Reps

Week 4: 230 X 10 Reps

Warm Up Sets

Your top training set is the most important for increasing strength and/or size.

The purpose of all warm up sets is to prepare you for your top set. That means the less energy you expend with warm up sets, the more you have for your top set.

Too many individual preform too many reps and warm up sets. They turn their warm up set into an intensive workout.

Thus, their top end load is never as heavy as it could/should be.

Kenny Croxdale


If that happens, seek immediate medical attention, as you may have some sort of muscle wasting disease.


If that’s the case then taking a week or two off might actually be a good idea. Not sitting on your ass and getting drunk all day, but a break from any serious training.

1 Like

3 months is really pushing it for most people, but lots of elite powerlifters take several weeks off once or twice a year. Kirk Karwoski, who is a bit of a madman, said he wouldn’t even drive past a gym for about a month after a meet.

1 Like

I take 2-3 days off in a row every 2-3 weeks, but I’m usually on a 2 days on, 1 day off split. I hope taking a week off does help though!

I don’t think I could live with myself if I purposefully didn’t train for a month, let alone 3. Thankfully, I am not a pro bodybuilder, and I don’t have to do that hahaha

It’s just an irrational fear that I have! Lol

I’m 19, so not quite at that point yet, but I have already spent 90% of my summer with my family. I’m sure once it’s over, I’ll be glad that I went on vacation with my family, but until then I’ll be itching to get back in the gym

This is good news! Thanks man!

If you recognize that it’s irrational, you can also recognize it’s not real. I just took a week off from lifting because I had pushed myself hard enough to warrant it. If you’re doing 5/3/1, you should be deloading pretty regularly as is.

1 Like

My honeymoon will be here in a few months, it’ll be about 3 weeks long. Shy of climbing a jungle tree, lots of walking, and some swimming, I will be doing ZERO training.

I train hard when I’m not on vacation. Think of training as building fitness credits, the more credits you have, the more you can spend.

1 Like

Sciency stuff says you hold onto strength for 3 weeks. Have a fun vacation. Eat some stuff, do some stuff, have sex with people ( not stuff, unless well, no don’ )

1 Like

your life priorities are troublesome. fix that.


I just started 5/3/1 5 weeks ago so I haven’t been in the thick of it yet, but I know what you’re saying