T Nation

time off

Has anyone taken an extended break from lifting? I haven’t lifted or watched my diet meticulously for over a month, and it feels great. I’m starting up again Monday, so I only have a few days left of no hurting :slight_smile:

Anyone else tried this and gotten the slingshot effect?

I know a powerlifter who swears by this. He takes a onth off every year and eats what he wants and doesn’t even think about training and he claims it the best thing he does for himself. Within a few weeks he’s just as strong as he was before, he’s all healed and he feels he makes better progress in the long run. I think this is a great idea for anyone, regardless of whether you’re a powerlifter or a bodybuilder or whatever. Maybe not letting your diet stray too far, but time off from training, certainly.

I’ve gotten the holy crap I’m sore affect. Due to vacation, school, and other family-related stresses, it’s been quite some time, but I’m getting back in the swing. This first week has been rough, as I try to distinguish from severe DOMS and injury. I hope to be back to where I was in a month. I don’t think such a long layoff was good for me, but maybe others…

i prefer to do things all the time that keep me from wanting and needing time off(ART, restoration, prehabilitation). If you think about it, if you are not overtraining or hurt, then you just lost one month of gains. and you have to take time to make up what you lost.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. I find that those that do in fact take extended breaks from training actually make better gains when they come back. Not only do they very quickly return to previous strength and size levels, but they quickly shoot by them as well. A few of my friends were forced into layoffs this past year and have just exploded since they’ve been back. Both have hit personal bests in strength and size.

I think the biggest problem with doing this is a psychological one. It’s hard to take time off from training, at least for me. Many people feel that if they arent in the gym, week in and week out, that they can’t make gains. Little do they realize that they aren’t really progressing anyway.

Now, will I take a month or two off from training, even though I’ve seen the benefits first hand? Probably not. I just love to train. Maybe I’ll force myself to do so come winter.

I wasn’t planning on taking this much time off, but it just happened this way. I graduated college May 3rd, and just did quick, hard workouts, no more than 15-20 minutes, 3 days a week for 2 weeks. I didn’t lose any strength, but I was never sore. That whole time, I was starting to pack for my move. Then I went on a cruise. I did some cardio and very light lifting that week. Then I had to pack hardcore for my move. Then I moved, and now I’m settled in, so I’m going to start back up. I know it sounds as if I am making excuses, but I really wanted the time off.

Goldberg - I agree that doing things to prevent injury and keep you training is good, but taking some time off every now and then is a good thing. It allows you to fully heal and recuperate/rejuvenate your nervous system as well. Usually, I take only a week off every few months, but that week has 2-3 light lifting sessions for muscle memory. I think it’s a good thing. I just hit a new PR in the bench, and I felt like I was constantly sore during that training period. I think it’s good to take some time off.

Honestly man, I don’t know how to do ART or any of that stuff. I massage my sore parts, but sometimes that is kinda hard i.e. hamstrings and ass after a hard squat session.

I hope to improve on all my lifts after I start back to it. But then again, I’m starting my rotations for graduate school, so that is going to be stressful and hard on me.

Anybody else have a hard time training while in graduate school for anything besides PT or non-training oriented schooling?

I took my very first “active” rest week off about a month and a half ago, and to be honest…I HATED IT. I don’t know, I feel along the same lines as Thunder in that I just love to train. If I am not in the gym than I feel like a big pile of poop. Even though I know that taking time off is “good”, I just dont like the feeling of not going to the gym. Its all about routine I guess. I am just in the habit of going to the gym everyday…its like second nature to me. I dont even have to think about it, I just go. It’s like my own personal addiction…like how a crack addict is addicted to crack. I try to take ONE day a week off as a rest day though, so its not like I train day in and day out (although its pretty close).

I’m coming off of a two week break. One planned week while I was on a school field trip, and a second week when I was throwing up hourly. Started back this week with Joel M.'s Ripped, Rugged, Dense remix and have been so sore I’ve wanted to cry at times. God willing, I’ll never take two weeks off again.

I agree with Goldberg, if you find yourself rebounding with great progress afterward, then you were probably overtrained to begin with and it’s a sign you weren’t eating enough/taking enough time for recovery/working too hard/too much stress in other areas/ etc.

Just to throw an idea out, I know a lot of people (mainly endurance atheletes) that take their pulse every morning (after you go to the bathroom). If their pulse is 10 beats or so above normal, they take another recovery day, no matter what the schedule says to do. This might work for weightlifters… anyone try this? I use it but then I am an endurance athlete :slight_smile:

The pulse method of tracking is a good idea and will work for strength athletes as well as endurance athletes.

I think that time off is a good idea, and I’ve always incorporated it into my training (two weeks off in the summer and another two weeks in the winter when I first started out; now it’s a week here and there between mesocycles or a Poliquin-style de-loading week). I’ve had some pretty good longevity in the sport and never really had a serious weight-related injury either. So I’m all for it.

However, I do think that a month at a time is too much. First, psychologically, most people (although maybe not most on this forum) taking a month off have a very good chance of never going back into the gym again. Second, physically, I have to agree with Goldie in that if you come back better after a month off you were probably not doing things optimally to begin with. Not that very many of us actually do train optimally, but still. A month off and better gains to me would be a signal that I needed to step back and take a serious second look at what I was doing, especially in terms of training volume and nutrition.

But I also agree with Thunder and the others who just can’t seem to stay away from the gym. That attitude - just loving to train - is a great advantage in the long run and will keep you going when nothing else will. So I hesitate to try to work my mind around to taking too much time away from the iron. One more reason to stick to a week or so.

I find that instead of palnning to take specific weeks off, things just come up in life where taking up to a week off is good for both your body & mentally, as well as the situation (eg start a new job, go on a vacation, a week full of long hours at work, studying for finals etc) So for me, I take the weeks off when the situation makes it difficult to get to the gym, but I get the benefit of rest and recouperation then too.

So I end up taking off 4-7 days about once every 3 months. I don’t keep track of calories either during this time, and ease up on my diet.

How about applying Strategic Deconditioning ala HST?

What you guys are talking about sounds a lot like HST.

I’m just getting back after 3 weeks of time off. Basically I got a little demotivated and decided to recuperate because my shoulder would give me pains during certain exercises. Instead of lifting for 3 weeks all I did was sprint and I ate like crap too. I’m talking Garlic bread, burgers, flavoured yogurts, chocolate, baked goods, all that good stuff. Anyways after 3 weeks of just sprinting I have put an INCH on my quads! My legs are absolutely huge and I didn’t really gain any fat as far as i’m concerned. My face is holding a little extra water from all the carbs but now that i’m getting back to it it’s starting to look leaner. Anyways, I feel really good right now. My upper body strength has weakened a bit. My bench is the only exercise that i’ve gone down on, the others seem to have stayed the same. One thing I noticed is that my SQUATS and DEADLIFTS are WAY UP! I LOVE IT! I’m glad I decided to take the 3 weeks off and just focus on sprinting!

Layoffs can be highly beneficial for athletes in strength,power, speed dominated sports. The “overshooting” of strength/size after a layoff has plenty of scientific evidence to back it up. What happens is during training, pretty much ANY training, the fast twitch fibers IIB or IIX % decreases (the very fibers that have the most potential for growth and strength)During a layoff the % of these fibers increases above and beyond their original starting point which paves the way for even greater strength, size, and power gains once training is resumed. so, for example, an individual might have 25% fast twitch IIB/IIX fibers when first beginning training…after a period of time that % will decrease to somewhere around 15%. After an extended layoff the % rebounds up to 30-40%. This is definitely science that I imagine will be applied more in the future for all athletes/bodybuilders. What needs to be discovered is what type of and or how much training one can do during the layoff to get the positive benefits of the overshoot phenomenon without detracting neurologically.

See, I didn’t plan but to take a max of 3 weeks off, but then things got hectic and I couldn’t train due to 2 moves, vacation, etc. I agree with whoever said that psychologically, it will be hard getting back into the swing of things, but the feeling you get after an intense bout with the weights just makes me feel great.

I don’t take time off, I have an unloading week. Every 4th week, I decrease the # of sets by 40%. It works pretty well, and gives me the mental break to say “well, I’ve got an easy week coming up, and then I change my workout, so I’ll be doing something new.” Mentally, it seems to make all the difference.

I’d take a week or two off max and not a whole month. I’ve been forced, due to injury or family issues, to go without training for that long and noticed significant gains in strength and size when I got back to it. But a whole month? I would go nuts not to mention become a total fat ass in the process. You might want to ask someone who knows a lot more about biology but there seems to be some sort of “caterpillar to butterfly” effect when you take a planned break of a week or there abouts. The body responds in a way that seems to solidify current mass and strength gains this way (as long as atrophy doesn’t begin). An extrememly extended period of time though seems like a waste. Being a hobby bodybuilder I would suggest laying off a specific group of muscles you want to slingshot foward instead of the whole body.

Every 8 weeks I take a week away from the gym. I stay active during this week with 3-4 30min. runs, but I don’t touch a weight. I find it helps me mentally refocus and physically recuperate.

In accordance with HST theory, I take one to two weeks off every 6 weeks. It is not for the rest effect as much as it is to decondition the muscles to prime them for further gains. It works great for me.