T Nation

Why The Week Off?


I recently took a week off, a few weeks earlier than I'd planned, due to overtraining. My muscles were not recovering, my joints were getting sore, I felt totally exhausted.

In a recent thread, one fairly prominent T-Nation poster mentioned that if you're developing injuries or becoming overtrained, you're training incorrectly. This made me think...

When I looked back at my training log from the weeks before my week off, I was shocked. I have a tendency to slowly but surely increase volume of sets and reps (along with weight) over the course of my program (against my trainer's recommendation I should add). The volume of my program had gradually ballooned to what could be considered retardedly inappropriate for anyone not using gear and spending all their non-gym time eating and in active recovery.

"Thanks, Training Log" - if only I'd paid closer attention to you before! Let this be a lesson to me and others: keep a training log, pay attention to it, listen to your body, and if you mess up, figure out what went wrong and don't repeat the mistake. Thanks to my log, I have a better grasp of my training tendencies and my physical limits.

Conclusion: I still think taking a week off every 12 weeks or so is mentally and physically beneficial. BUT, if you're training correctly and building proper recovery time into your program (such as unloading weeks), your week off will not be absolutely necessary to prevent injury and breakdown, but will instead be a tool to enhance optimal growth and recovery.

Just wanted to share!


Great Advice! That's something all of should do more frequently. Recovery is essential especially for me as an older athlete. That's virtually the only effect that I can see from aging: it takes me longer to recover. I'm faster, more agile, stronger, equally as explosive NOW, BUT MUCH slower in recovering.



If I took an entire week off, I'd have to sleep with one eye open because I'd be afraid my family would murder me in my sleep.


The week off doesn't necessarily need to be completely free of exercise or activity. It can be something as simple as 1/2 of the volume or lower intensity(%of max). For me it needs to be completely off as when I hit the gym there is no half intensity.

You are very correct to mine your training log. If you are still making PROGRESS, there may not be a need for the week off. Being a Staley disciple has made me realize the importance of progress as the key indicator for your training protocols. I need the week off because of age(42) and the other major stressors in life, work and family. Like Nick Radonjic said, it is all about recovery. We don't get bigger or stronger in the gym but after in the recovery phase is where the magic occurs


In the past, when I've taken a week off, I've still kept active and done some cardio. This time, although I was active outside of the gym, I didn't set foot on a cardio machine or touch a weight. I could tell it simply would not have been productive for my body and recovery. I'd like to avoid getting to that point in the future.

That said, I did actually notice my legs grew and filled out during the week off.


Just took a week off; went to DisneyWorld and walked 10 miles/day instead of lifting. I also ate like a pig--a pig with a credit card, that is!

While I feel more rested, got more sleep, ate plenty of healthful food, etc., the lack of routine (and all the walking) made my hamstrings/lower back tighter than ever. First day back at gym this morning was leg day, and it was tough. I didn't like my performance, and it will be interesting to see how long it takes to feel like I'm "back in the groove."


Here's what I found odd; I did my first leg workout in ten days on Tuesday, and I was a bit nervous, because my muscles felt recovered, but somehow still tight, and my joints weren't 100%.

I was fine with the previous weight I'd been working with for front squats and stiff-leg deads, though I did lower the volume (as mentioned, the volume was getting too high, which necessitated the week off). I kept careful track of how my joints were feeling, and all seemed ok.

By the end of the workout, my joints and muscles felt better. They've been much better ever since. Go figure.


Same here. It felt like going through the motions helped stretch tight muscles/tendons.

Funny moment: At one point during Squats, my lifting partner said--JUST as I stepped up to the bar--"You know, we haven't gone this high in a long time." I yelled "STOP!" (this from the guy others in the gym call "The Quiet Guy") because I was worried that THAT thought would be on my mind during the whole set. I guess, since I've reminded myself of this, that I'd have to say the first day back after about 10 days wasn't that bad, but I KNOW that things were noticeably more tight, and ROM suffered because of it.

I'm convinced that a week off IS a healthy thing, but I think a key factor is to remain active; also, and especially up in my age range (closer to 50 than 40), not letting yourself stiffen up is crucial.


If taking a few days or a week off are you supposed to continue your training program just where you left off or do you start over again...
What do you guys think?