How Overtraining Feels

Should I Take A Week Off From Working Out

Is it important to take a week off from working out in the gym? The answer may surprise you. Let me cliff-note a recent interaction with a client.

The client:

“Hey Coach, I am constantly sore recently. I’m sleeping terribly & overall I feel like crap. Should I take a week off from weight training? I’ve been at it for four months without a break working out hard for 4-6 training sessions per week.

My response to the client:

“You should absolutely take the next seven days off from weight training. But during this time you should not lay on the couch and eat nothing but junk food but rather instead of your normal routine (intense weight training) this time will be utilized to allow your body to reset your central nervous system and then you will start making progress again and feel much better. Not to mention you will allow your joints, muscles, tendons, hormones and ligaments a much needed break so that they will become more resilient. During this time you can bike lightly, walk (10k per day), foam roll and lightly stretch; and a massage wouldn’t hurt either. Keep your protein intake high to support muscle health while keeping carbohydrates a bit lower since you wont be burning off excess glycogen through strength training workouts. If after this week off you still feel terrible give yourself a few more days and then get back at it.”

Now I will give my general recommendations for the reader so you know when it is appropriate to give yourself a break from weight training. Generally I recommend a week off from weight training (assuming you workout hard three or more days per week) every 12-16 weeks. Sometimes this will happen naturally with vacations, work, or life but this is something you should plan and make appointments in your calendar for. In a few years of doing this your body will be more resilient and you will get that mental reset and rest from the gym every time you need it. This will also help your further by reducing your risk of catastrophic injuries in the gym.

After a week off we find that we are reinvigorated, excited to workout again and recovery time is much more efficient.

I will also add that when you come back from a week off the first week should include 50-75% of the weight which you typically use for exercises and at 3/4ths the volume. The reason for this is; you just reset your body and you will find yourself experiencing more DOMS (muscle soreness) because of the rest. This is a good sign; meaning your body is now in a position to create some new progress and adaptation.

You may find articles by “reputable” people saying that #teamnodaysoff or #neverrest but you should just ignore those people because twenty years down the road when you are still making progress they would have long since hung up their lifting sneakers and at worst will be injured because they never gave their body the opportunity to rest.

You need to rest if you are going to keep making progress. Progress will leads to small victories; small victories lead to big victories and big victories put you at the top of the mountain and many will only hope to get there one day!

To your health and continued personal growth in health, wealth, success, fitness and happiness!

~Formal Fitness Training

Related Reads