Q: How often should I take time off from the gym?
A: Too many weeks in a row in the gym can leave you drained and actually decrease performance on your favorite lifts.
To prevent decreasing strength, deload weeks should be included in your program every four to six weeks. These weeks are simply easier training sessions that allow the body to recover from the stresses of working out. Stretching, core exercises, and bodyweight movements are all good options for these recovery weeks. Keep workouts around 30-45 minutes and be sure to avoid pushing yourself too hard.
For more information on including deload weeks in your program, check out these tips from Jason Ferruggia >>>
Training hard year round can leave you feeling physical fatigue, but you may also have mental fatigue and loss of interest in exercise. Include one to two weeks a year out of the gym as rest weeks. Don’t focus on exercise but rather just do the things you enjoy – walk, hike, spend time with friends. This is a time to refresh your mind so don’t worry about losing fitness. These weeks should follow extremely heavy bouts of training or a competition such as a marathon.
It’s also beneficial to plan your training around your work and personal schedule. If you have a holiday trip planned, ramp up your training in the few weeks before so you can enjoy a lighter week during the trip guilt free.
Deload weeks and complete rest weeks are a crucial part of any strength training program. Your muscles increase in strength and size after recovery periods, not when you’re in the gym lifting. Plan a deload week every four to six weeks and include a complete week off from the gym at least once a year for better results.
About the Trainer: Jeremey DuVall
Jeremey DuVall is a personal trainer based in Denver, CO. He received a Master’s degree in Human Performance from the University of Florida while specializing in strength training for endurance athletes. For more on Jeremey, check him out at JeremeyDuVall.com or on Twitter, @JeremeyD.