Well I personally don’t think there is really a specific time frame as such but a good recommendation is to take a week off every 10-12 weeks of consistent training, key word here being ‘consistent’. You have to earn the week off.If you have consistently been pushing hard for 10-12 weeks your body will tell you that it’s time for a break and yes an entire week, no you won’t shrink down to nothing and lose all the gains.
When do you think you actually grow the muscle that your gains come from?
When you are resting and recovering.
Taking a full week off will give your body the much needed rest after being tortured for the past 3 months, it will give all your joints a rest and heal any minor niggling injuries you may have copped while pushing yourself to max.
You may also find that after a long period of time bashing your body in the gym that you start feeling like motivation is at an all time low, you’re getting a bit crook and you feeling weak in all of your lifts. This is a sign that your nervous system is struggling to keep up with current work load and it’s time to step it down for a while so it can recuperate.
Our bodies are great at adapting and recovering, after a week off you’ll find that you comeback bigger and stronger, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t decided on more regular scheduled time off.
How long is too long?
It’s only when you start approaching the third or fourth week off training that you will start losing that hard earned muscle, you know that old saying “use it or lose it”, well it’s true. You need to give your muscles an excuse to hang around and even grow by using them.
What about your nutrition?
Don’t do anything different, keep it the same. If you’re doing something specific with pre, intra and post workout you can live without that but as for the rest of your food, just stay on track. The whole idea behind taking the week off is to recover and we do this through nutrient intake. By the end of the week you will be fully recovered and feeling strong, you may even be a bit heavier due to your muscle being packed with stored glycogen.
What to do after the break?This is a great time to jump into a different training program, maybe it’s time you started working on strength specifically or if you have been doing that already give hypertrophy the focus. It’s a great way to get excited about training again and find new motivation.
So use the break to analyse your past training and set some new goals that you’d like to achieve when you start back in the gym. If you go in with a game plan it can be extremely beneficial instead of just going back to your past routine, you want to progress right?? Change it up, think outside the box and try something different.
Enjoy your week off!
It’s time to stop the BS and hit it hard! It’s the only way, there’s no shortcuts just hard work, discipline, determination and consistency. Don’t back down!
Thanks for reading,
Schembri PT Team