T Nation

Rest Week?


Was at the gym today and got talking to a guy who bought up the idea of a rest week. He said basically every 3 or 4 months he takes a week off. Out the gym and loosens his diet up a bit. Apparently it stops you from burning out and gives time for little strains to heal, as well as giving a motivation boost when he returns to the gym again the next week.

Does anyone else do this and does it work? Or is it just a personal preference thing? Just curious as I'd have thought a week off could possibly lead to slacking discipline


Various people do this–for example, John Meadows does this once or twice a year in a structured way.

I think it goes entirely off feel. When I was in my late teens-early 20s, you couldn’t have kept me out of the gym for a week. Now, very late 20s, post-getting my colon removed, I would be open to having a week off if I felt I needed it (and take days off more regularly than I used to).

So it’s really a matter of feel. If you’re new to stuff enough that you’re asking on these boards whether it’s a good idea, then you’re probably not at the point where you’d “need” one, but if it’s good for your mental hygiene then by all means have at it. You’re going to be doing this for a long time, so no reason to grind yourself down if you think you’re grinding yourself down.


I’ve been training HARD for around 8 weeks- AM and PM, frequency and volume gradually increased Mainly Muay Thai, but also strongman stuff, complexes, and other forms resistance training 2+ hours a day, often 6-7 days a week. I actually still feel pretty good - Muay Thai going well, weights going up etc…

I’m 38 this month, work from 7.am until 4.pm (nanny has my little girl in the day) and am raising a 16 month old terror on my own (cancer took my daughter’s mum recently) I’ve discovered that even at this age my body can tolerate more than I thought, I’m leaner, stronger and look bigger (in the shoulders and traps particularly, which with the leanness gives the illusion at least)

I planning a trip to the beach next week (I work and live in Thailand) and plan on taking my two 12kg, 20kg and 32kg kettle bells with me and doing 30 - 40 minutes swings, presses whatever on the beach in the morning after a couple of days rest. Added naps, plenty of massages, lots of quality food I’ll be right as rain and ready to go. I may take 3-4 days complete rest after if I don’t feel sufficiently rested.

Take home point (yes there is one) - Whether a 5-7 complete rest depends on various individual factors accumulating:

  • Age
  • Training history
  • Volume, intensity and frequency (CNS intensive like Olympic or power lifting lifts, combat, aerobic, etc.
  • Current environmental stress levels (for me my current situation and spurred me on and given me focus)
  • Current condition and goals
  • Current training program (maybe mixed if sports specific)
  • Diet and sleep
  • How you feel
  • Individual physical and mental makeup

To many variables to give a cookie cutter answer. Push the envelope and see what happens, you may be able to tolerate more than you think.

Wise man once said ‘the more you train and are able recover from, the more progress you’ll make’ - or something similar ;0)

Good luck my friend



A large number of strength coaches recommend some kind of deload, whether it’s an easy week or an off week. The easiest way to find out if it’s going to help you or not is to try it and find out.


It doesn’t have to be a full week either but it also depends how your training is. Once every few months I end up traveling or something so I just use that as my off days from the gym, it may be 4-5 days. If I had no interruptions in schedule I’d prefer a deload week, a full 7 days but with easier workouts. I used to do these more often but I feel it unnecessary to take them when I’m already getting off days traveling.


I like to push hard when knowing I have time completely off, especially for an upcoming vacation. It really depends on how hard you’re pushing your training and what’s needed for recovery since it balances out.

Taking a week or two completely off each year is nice, just to get a break from training. For me it takes a week or two to get back up to speed on things.


This is something to determine for yourself and it may differ depending on how you feel, the stress in your life, the parameters of your training, other recovery factors.

Personally, I think it’s better to plan your breaks/lower difficulty work than wait to be so beat up that you have to take them.


Every other week I take two consecutive days off, and normal weeks I’m one day on one day off. If something comes up and I need to take up to a week off I don’t really sweat it anymore.


I follow a program set up by someone way smarter than me. I don’t sweat the small stuff.

Side note, Arnold always took a few weeks off after an Olympia. He calleoutd it active rest. Did anything but work out.


yes take a rest week when your body needs it
or deload week. Doesn’t matter


I just returned from a week of work travel without lifting. Little sleep, high stress, imperfect diet. Basically, I felt small and weak. I expected a flat day at the gym and then set my lifetime bench PR and came within 20 pounds of my deadlift PR. I also hit 7x10 on pullups and felt generally amazing and fully pumped. Losing muscle in a week is an irrational fear, but I still fall into it all the time. You might not be pumped, but that comes right back instantly.


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I like doing this once or twice a year (in addition to a deload weeks every few months when I feel I need it). I usually time it for life events when I know my gym time is going to suffer anyway (e.g. exams, travel), and come back to the gym feeling rested and craving the training.


[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
I usually time it for life events when I know my gym time is going to suffer anyway (e.g. exams, travel)[/quote]

This is one of the better ways. Life happens to everyone.

The notion re detraining in one week is absurd.

I regularly take time off. Take one step back to move two forward.


Whether you need a rest week physically is a real individual thing. Your natural recovery abilities, what your training usually looks like (volume, frequency etc), how good your diet and sleep habits are, even how long its been since you’ve taken a break.

Mentally though, I really do think a little time “off” from time to time is beneficial to everyone. I know that there’s almost nothing I’d rather do than train, but with the rest of life’s stresses, you don’t always realize how much you may get a little worn down.