Most work out programs recommend periodically taking a week off but, in reality, how often should you take time off from weight lifting?
There are differing opinions on this subject but what most people do agree on is that taking periodic scheduled breaks from your fitness regimen actually helps you achieve your exercise goals.
How often should you take time off from weight lifting?
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There is no set formula for how often you should take a break from exercise, including weight lifting.
Anywhere from every eight weeks to every sixteen weeks is the norm with the average being every twelve weeks.
If you exercise regularly and rarely skip a work out you may want to plan your week off after only eight to ten weeks.
On the other hand if you frequently take long weekends and go three or more days in a row without exercise, you may want to wait sixteen weeks for your full week off due to the mini breaks you have already incorporated into your routine.
Naturally when people think about taking time off from their fitness workout routine they become concerned with regression in progress and weakening of muscles.
The truth is that taking time off actually helps you to make progress and achieve your goals whether they are related to weight loss, muscle strengthening, or general fitness and toning.
Muscles require time to recover and rebuild. Over time, you will notice in your workouts that your progress is slowing and the rate at which you are able to increase reps or weight will lessen.
This is because your muscles are not able to recover at the same rate they were able to when you first began working out. Just as you may periodically feel that you need a vacation from your job, your muscles need a vacation from work as well!
This break period from working out has been referred to by some as S.T.O.P., which stands for:
It should be built into your work out plan. Many people set their short term exercise goals around this break period. For example, if you have decided to take a break every twelve weeks, you might create mini goals achievable in twelve week increments.
There are other reasons for taking periodic breaks when you are taking part in a weight training program. Not only do your muscles need time to recover but you need time to regroup and regain the excitement you initially felt about working out. Without this time off period you may become bored with or even quit your work out program.
Many people are afraid to take time off because they are afraid that it will be much harder to lift the same weight when they resume their training. Seven days is not enough time for muscles to atrophy. By taking time off each muscle group can rebuild and your body is primed to respond to the stimulus of the weights all over again. You will again notice much more rapid results similar to when you first began your program.
It is possible that you may feel slightly weaker the first time you lift again after taking the break, but your muscles have not shrunk. You will soon find that your post break workouts will bring about new muscle growth causing your strength to quickly increase.
While a full week’s break is necessary every eight to sixteen weeks you also need to have scheduled rest days worked into your fitness program. Many people feel that if they lift every day they will see results more quickly. This is not the case.
Muscles need days off in order to heal and rebuild. If they are not given at least two rest days each week growth will be minimal. If you feel that you really must exercise every day of the week to feel successful then plan some days each week when you only do cardio or stretching and yoga exercises versus lifting.
Weight training requires breaks both within your weekly routine and full week breaks within your overall schedule. Allow yourself and your body these breaks and you will see results more quickly. Deny your muscles the rest they need and you may find yourself struggling to meet your fitness goals.
Still struggling with exactly how often you should take time off from weight lifting? Use our personal work out plan finder or more individualized workout plan builder to help develop your own fitness goals and work out schedule right now!