Those who pursue bodybuilding have different views on time off from weight training, with some believing that several weeks of regular bodybuilding workout sessions should be followed with a vacation from training of at minimum one week, while others fearing the very idea of time off from bodybuilding, to the point that they try to find a gym even when they are on a cruise with family or friends. The true answer to how a bodybuilder must deal with time off in order to avoid any significant negative impact to muscle gains or fat loss is somewhere between these two extremes.
It's very easy to become obsessive about weight training, to the point where skipping a workout brings about worry of substantial muscle loss or body fat gain in a brief period, and this can cause those who pursue weight lifting to actually try and avoid time off so that they can remain consistent with their weight training workout routines at all times. This to the individual who does not live a bodybuilding lifestyle seems excessive, and there is no doubt that, mentally, living such a one track bodybuilding lifestyle can bring about depression and alienation from family and friends, so avoiding breaks from bodybuilding training completely is never a worthwhile choice.
Others aim for vacations from weight lifting every several weeks, performing their weight training and cardiovascular sessions for a month, and then taking a several week sabbatical from weight lifting before beginning another 4-6 week weight lifting and cardiovascular routine. This technique can delay bodybuilding progress significantly, so I recommend, as an alternative, planning breaks from bodybuilding around special occasions (Easter, visiting family), and saving unexpected time off for times when illness strikes (flu, injuries, etc), so that you can easily move away from weight lifting workout sessions for a couple of weeks during times of the year when you have places to travel to and people to spend time with, or when you are sidelined with an unexpected illness or injury.
The amount of muscle mass lost during a break from weight lifting can be substantial if the time away from bodybuilding is considerable, so my recommended period to vacation from weight lifting is seven days, and preferably, a vacation from weight lifting should never exceed two weeks, as the body begins to burn muscle after a 1-2 week period (dependent upon genetics). If you are taking a vacation that requires a significant time away from your normal weight lifting workout routine, consider following an abbreviated schedule, where each muscle group is trained one time every seven days with low volume, at least to try and encourage muscle maintenance during a longer period away from weight training. This method can be used for time off from weight training that lasts any length, but is vital if your time away from bodybuilding will exceed a two week period. Such an approach allows for short bodybuilding workout sessions that stimulate the muscle sufficiently to delay catabolism.
Many times bodybuilders believe that since muscle growth occurs during rest, long periods away from weights will cause the body to achieve superior progress compared with rare breaks from bodybuilding, and rest will assist in muscle gains if in fact sufficient stimulation has occurred through weight lifting, but this also means that lengthy breaks from bodybuilding will not only remove the overload necessary for continued muscle building, but also eventually begin to burn muscle tissue, as the body constantly adapts to the most recent stress, and will begin to eliminate muscle tissue during extended vacation breaks from bodybuilding workouts.
In regards to the number of vacations from bodybuilding workout sessions, this will depend on your individual schedule. Generally, the fewer extended breaks you take, the more muscle mass you will gain, yet a one week break several times per year is beneficial for the body and mind, but only if such periods away from weight lifting occur at extended intervals, with at least two months (preferably three) of consistency preceding a break from bodybuilding.
Also, do not forget the importance of proper diet during a vacation from bodybuilding, as abandoning sufficient protein or carbohydrates during vacations from bodybuilding will cause your body to burn muscle mass, where otherwise very little negative change will occur. Most are not opposed to eating during leisure time away from bodybuilding, but just make sure to ingest sufficient protein, and aim for carbohydrates at a sufficient level to sustain daily activities in order to prevent muscle loss.
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Francesco Castano owns IncrediBody.com, an online fitness superstore selling weight training equipment at guaranteed lowest prices.
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