T Nation

Taking Significant Time Off?


I don't mean a week or two I am talking like 6 months to a year? and I don't mean due to a serious injury that forced you to take time off. Basically I've been contemplating taking up to a year off due to a ton of aches and pains accumulating. While I can train around the injuries and keep them at bay with mobility/prehab work they are never 100% and do flare up quite often. I was thinking of taking time off and doing something like swimming for workouts instead.

My biggest fear is obviously losing most of the size that I worked so hard to gain over the years, which ofcourse is going to happen. My joints just feel like shit lately and I think they need a nice long break, this is a last resort for me as I'd like nothing more than to keep training but I am kind of running out of ideas. Thoughts? Comments?

I take time off (like a week or two) and feel much better but then when I start back up again slowly the aches and pains come back until they become pretty hard to ignore.


Your instinct might be right.
This is just food for tought.
Many aches come from too much acidity.
Less process foods, more plant foods might be a plus.
About 3-6 months of swimming and yoga/tai-chi might be enough but 12 months might be an option also.
When getting back a little different angle/approach might do the trick.
How old are you?
Your goals are?
Librairies are filled with books to diminish inflammation wich most people are experiencing.
All the best !


I am 53 and have a similar situation. I was doing full body every other day but one exercise each part. I gained size and strength but have all the small pains that I just lift with. Wrist,elbow,hand. Try to take a week off pain comes back. My newest thing is just trying to reduce sets and reps. Took osteo bio flex seemed to help


I second what BHappy said about alkalizing more with plant based foods. I also take turmeric root which is a natural anti-inflammatory which can help with joint pain. If I were you, I would make it a point to take 3 months off and then re-evaluate. Taking 6 months to a year just seems unnecessary.


you don't say what your normal training is. e.g., if it is strength on compound lifts (lots of 1RM) or if it is a ton of isolation volume or what.


Ice, deep tissue massage and good stretching/mobility xercises will get you a long way. You have aches and pains because something,somewhere, is not in good condition. Resting will not fix that.


Perhaps try cutting out (or really limiting) your dairy. Dairy foods are really inflammatory and I think it will help. I'd really give training an all out go before I took as much as an entire year off. Also keep in mind how hard it will be to come back to training in a year at your age (if its no issue props to you but the guys your age I know would have a tough time coming back). Hope this is useful, good luck.


Depends on what you eat. If you eat hearty you won't lose size may even get stronger. If you eat less you may lose some size and if you eat little you will lose a lot of size. It's also a matter of age. Early 20's you may not lose anything.

The first thing to go when you stop training is your conditioning and comfort not your strength. You may still lift 300, but you'll only be able to do it once, and 300 will feel like 6 if you haven't touched it in a long time.


Was primarily stuff in 3-6 rep range. Singe the aches have been developing I added a ton of mobility and soft tissue work and and moved my reps to 8-12 range and also reduced overall sets.


so training for strength, then?

what kind of program are you on? I mean, how do you decide what weights you are going to lift?

i start feeling like you describe when i'm working progressive overload - getting to the end of my ability to progress the weights linearly. i wonder if you are working too close to your max and could maybe profit from taking a deload cycle (4-6 weeks) where you really reduce the load and / or substitute in joint friendly alternatives.

it is hard to know what modification to suggest without seeing your current programming.


Well like I said before my program was strength oriented hence the lower reps it followed an upper/lower split 4 times per week, One main exercises 4-5 sets 3-6 reps and assistance lifts for that day. Since then aches I switched to press, pull, legs, where I reduced the overall volume, intensity and the reps to 8-12 switched exercises to ones that I feel contribute to joint health.

I've been on the new routine a few months and the injuries have greatly improved but they aren't going away completely. Some days they are completely pain free, others I start to feel them again like they are about to make a comeback. I've taken a week completely off here and there just did soft tissue work and stretching/mobility work to make them completely go away but as soon as I start the routine (the reduced one) everything starts coming back.


Why don't you post what the problem is, and what all the mobility and rehab stuff you're doing and see if someone can help you out rather than give up.


Never said give up, just take a lot of time off to let heal but sure I'd love people's take on it. Here are the injuries that just seem like they won't go away.

Impingement in my right shoulder (mobility is full range of motion so overhead is fine but when I try any weight on any pressing exercise it start getting worse) I know it's impingement with Hawkins test and had a physio take a look. (started when shoulder popped maxing out, initially couldn't lift arm overhead with no pain).

Golfer's elbow in left elbow (was doing one arm chinups and one day just started aching), it's fine if I rest and do nothing on it but when pain goes away and I start trying to curl (I go as light as 20s trying to rehab it) or do regular pullups with no weight the next day and concurrent days the pain will get worse and worse. Rowing seems to be fine and can even go heavy here without any problems.

Now this one I am completely dumbfounded with and anyone that know about grip or wrists, I'd appreciate any suggestions. Strange wrist pain (both wrists) on the ulnar side. It never hurts during exercise and I feel it when I am say reaching for something and move my wrist sideways (ulnar deviation). The only thing I've been able to narrow down it to is fat bar work but it flares up here and there randomly and I haven't been able to pinpoint the cause (I've obviously dropped fat bar work). I use to do a lot of grip work and suspect it's something from that but I have no idea what.

Left shoulder pain with shoulder depression and regular pullups aggravate it (well not really the pullup itself but the bottom portion of pullup with make it ache). Also pretty unclear as to what it is, it had healed and improved greatly but I still can't do pullups or dips or it'll start aching and escalate from there.

Mobility I do YTWLs, shoulder flexion against a wall (wall slide bother the impingement), shoulder flexion in external rotation and arm circles. Soft tissue work I do 3x per week and I use a pvc pipe and lacrosse ball focusing on these areas: upper back on the left and right sides, infraspinatus and teres minor, lats, back of shoulder, side of shoulder, front of shoulder. I also use a metal scrapper for soft tissue work on both forearms. I also stretch after foam rolling.

For rehab exercises I do a lot of rows, face pulls, protraction in pushup position, rear delt flyes, just started doing the wrist roller for the elbow (flexion and extension) and it seems like it doesn't bother it where as regular wrist curls do.

The main problem is this stuff goes away/doesn't bother me when I am not doing training, when I come back they all gradually start coming back until it gets bad enough and I am forced to take time off again. Hence the idea to take more than a few weeks off maybe everything will heal for good.




Do you take joint supplements? Those help me quite a bit and I take them religiously. I also warm up every lift. You may want to look into seeing what a nutritionist has to say since what you describe is almost systemic.

My wife's sister has advanced arthritis and she saw one, she followed the prescribed diet for a while and did a lot better, then she stopped, got worse.



Taking time off won't kill you, assuming you can handle the psychological side effects of getting smaller. However as you have been working mostly on strength is could be assumed once you return to weights hopefully you can get back to where you were without too much pain. Although this all depends on your condition etc and assuming you don't change your diet to resemble that of an african refugee child.

The body does take time to heal but stimulation of the problematic areas cause the body to adapt. So if you have pathologies and give them no stimulation, the improvements won't be a fast as if you do some controlled activity. Guessing that's where you are fitting in the swimming.