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When and why should you take time off from lifting?

Thursday, February 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


When, how often and for how long trainees should take time off from lifting is a subject that I see come up a lot on the forums. Some people take a week off as frequently as every 4 or 5 weeks, and some people just “deload” every so often without ever taking a complete break from lifting. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle: I like to take a week completely off from training every 8-16 weeks. Usually the 12 week mark is about right for me, but I modify this based on my training program and how I’m feeling. For example, I just completed a 17 week bulk without taking any time off. 17 weeks is REALLY pushing it, but I think I made the right call. Experiment and listen to your body; over time you’ll learn what works best for you.

Some people worry that taking a week off from training will result in a loss of size and/or strength, however most people report coming back from a break stronger than ever. This makes sense because a week off is really not that much time, and our bodies generally respond quite favorably to an extended rest and recovery period. Personally I tend to come back from a week-long break a little weaker, but I seem to be in the minority there. No worries, though – I usually have my strength back to where it was after just a couple of weeks.

While I tend to lose a bit of strength on these breaks, I come back mentally and physically refreshed, and that’s very important. At the end of the 17 week bulk I just completed I had a number of nagging aches and pains: left hip pain, right shoulder pain, tendonitis in both of my elbows and lower back pain. These aches and pains are pretty common for most people (especially at my age) who lift heavy and with extreme intensity, but after just a week off all of those annoying “injuries” are completely gone.

I’m going to wrap up this update and get back to my big project at work now. I made some great progress on the project yesterday, and I think I may be able to complete it today!

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