Personal Training and Sports Performance Excellence Blog
Question: I train heavy and hard but recently I have just lost the fire to train? I thought about some time off from the gym but I don't want to lose the gains I have made. If I do take off how long will it take to get muscle and strength back?
Answer: Losing the desire to train is one of the warning signs of "over-training" which is really under-eating or under-resting. When you look at it that way you realize that resting is a necessity. A study done about the effects of training breaks at William & Mary determined that a short-term layoff, less than 2 weeks, had little effect on strength or loss of muscle. A typical rest period of 3 days to a week should work well for you and will cause little muscle loss. The break should actually allow you to return to the gym refreshed mentally and physically. Some athletes take 3 to 6 weeks off. A training vacation requires a longer investment in a buildup program for up to 3 weeks upon your return. These longer layoffs are usually to recuperate from an injury or a long training cycle which leads up to competition. The researchers found one fact from the study confusing at first. A layoff of less than 14 days off did show measurable decreases in strength and explosiveness but very little difference in muscle size or muscle fiber type distribution. They concluded that the strength reduction was due to less efficient firing of the nerves connected to the muscle. The study further concluded that within 3 days the nerve firing patterns had been reestablished and strength was 95% of what it was prior to the layoff.
Now the whole idea of rest periods can be and should be programmed into your training by using a rest/recovery cycle every 6 to 8 weeks. This is called working recovery and consists of using shortened training days for 3 to 5 workouts and 30% to 40% lighter weights with higher reps. Make the reps of each set count by contracting hard at the peak of the rep range. Cut your working sets back to allow you to get out of the gym within 30 to 40 minutes. This changes your time schedule, gets you out of the gym quickly and is mentally refreshing. When you return from either a working layoff or complete layoff ease back into your training cycle over the first 3 to 5 days accelerating your workouts during the second week back to your normal training intensity and weight. You should feel more focused, intense and see the fire come back to your workouts.
God bless and keep training,
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Posted by Daryl Laws on May 17, 2011 | Printer-Friendly