T Nation

Time Off Or Not?


I've been training on and off for many many years, sometimes with very long breaks due to injury, illness, or work/family schedules. I never really reached the goals from my youth, so last year I made a vow to hit it hard one last time to see how far I can go.

So I began training hard since November without a break (other than a day or 2). Gained about 8 lbs, increased 5/8" on calves, 3/8" on biceps (I haven't measured anything else), and a nice fullness all over that I've never quite achieved before. But recently noticed my progression stalling in the gym, and just 2 days ago started feeling really burnt out. Sleep isn't good lately, nor is the old appetite. Along with that, my knees are chronically sore (quadricep tendon), and I've developed bursitis in my right shoulder.

I feel that I may need a week off, but I can't get my brain around this. At my age, training is as much an emotional stabilizer as it is a body builder. I guess I fear losing the momentum I've been riding, as well as the fear of losing any gains I've worked hard to attain. If I do take a week off, would it be detrimental to just train 2 small muscle groups like calves and delts during the layoff? What do you guys do after a long cycle?


I train HST style in 10 week cycles and then take a week off. I always make my best gains during the week off, so I'm all for the idea of you taking a week off completely.

You're not going to atrophy in a week, so that fear is unfounded and you might even find you grow in that week off.

I'd recommend you take a week off completely and do it up right, but you do what you feel you need to do. Just be clear that you're doing it for emotional reasons and not training reasons.


I'm just a beginner - but everything I've read advises a deload week of either drastically reduced volume or a switch to other exercise activities i.e. walking, hiking, biking. The intervals vary but with the symptoms you are experiencing I'd say it is time for a complete deload week.


Take a week of Active recovery. Go at the same time you always do to keep the same habit but instead of lifting, play bball, run on a tread mill, swim in the pool. I'm like you in that I don't want to stay out of the gym but sometimes I HAVE to take some time off just to heal!


I almost always PR in one or more movements after a week off. I travel a bit for work and usually add extra sessions during the week prior to traveling, take off the week or 4 days or however long I'll be gone and hit it hard when I return. I do the same thing when on vaca with the wife. I'll be 38 in June and find my body needs the rest a lot moe than when I was younger.


I'll echo what these guys have said, a week off is a good thing every three or four months. After aboout 4-5 days I begin to get real antsy to lift, but the extra recovery time is great for your body.


Gotta deload to reload. A week off makes no difference to strength. If you are a pumper, yeah, you'll get smaller, but the strength says the same. I have 5 days between upper sessions and 5 days between lower sessions and I keep getting stronger. What's 2 more days?

You can use the deload to your advantage. THe week before your week off, really overwork yourself. Take no account of whether you'll be able to recover just lift like a madman. Then take your 7 days off and eat and sleep like a millionaire.

I'm sure when you get back to the gym, you'll be stronger than you left it.


Weeks off are definitely good. You should know when you need one. When I take one it is usually when I am starting to feel shit and unmotivated.