What Does Time Off Do to Your Training Cycle?


I’m not talking nature’s four seasons, I’m talking as an athletic performance season. As athletes we are really good at training and over training and less likely to take breaks for fear of detraining or decreasing our training benefits. We all know that recovery is just as important as training itself. So how much is too much? Or, how much is enough? In my mind, the difference between being in season and out of season can happen in a matter of weeks. In the middle of what I considered my sport climbing season, I had a series of fantastic events and family trips that required me to put my climbing and training on pause for 2 1/2 weeks. (sigh) I returned to the gym feeling like my shoes and my skin just didn’t feel right. Cue the anxiety and frustration. First, lets talk about what exercise and training are.

Adaptation and Efficiency

Every physical activity or exercise has a defined set of components which require competence and skill in order to be successful at that activity. Exercise training principles are based on overload, recovery, progression, reversibility and specificity. Exercise is a form of stress or overload and your body adapts to the stress put on it. This adaptation can be referred to as strength or endurance. So how do we get to be efficient? Training programs build the blocks for sport efficiency. Once you have reached some of those benchmarks, how much rest can you take without losing what you earned?

Keep in Mind: There are many factors that effect muscle loss and those include but are not limited to Age, Diet, Sleep, Hormones, Stress, Hydration, Injury. This is but a basic outline of POTENTIAL loss over time spent not training:

Time OffPotential Strength LossTime to Recover Strength Gains

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Notice that you can have 2 weeks (!!!) of NO TRAINING and lose 0%!!! The big basic take-home is that a little rest is really not that bad. Treat yourself every once in a while and go on vacation.

-Carrie Cooper


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