Working Class Fitness: What To Do During an “Off Week” of Training?

March 29, 2013
1 Comment

Working Class Fitness LogoA few days ago, my buddy Shawn pinged me on Facebook and asked me what he should do about his workouts for the following week.

Shawn attends some sort of “bootcamp” style class that uses a lot of intense weight training, bodyweight movements, and other inventive ways to tax conditioning.  However, his class (for whatever reason) was going on hiatus for a week.  He was wondering what he should do.

Shawn wasn’t sure if he should just try and do some other exercise at home, try and find another class to attend for the week, or simply just take the week off and rest.

I told Shawn that there wasn’t any real “clear-cut” answer. It would depend on how he was feeling, his progress, current state of recovery, and more.

I told Shawn that he would likely fall under one of four different categories, and what he should do about each:

#1 – He feels good, his progress is going great, recovery and rest is up to snuff, and things are going well overall.

In this case, I told Shawn to keep working.  He could find another class, hit up some intense workouts at home, go to the gym for a week’s worth of intense full-body training, or just keep very active doing other activities (biking, hiking, BJJ, MMA, etc.).

#2 – He feels good physically, but he’s not as motivated or mentally “into” his workouts.

In this case, the body is likely rested and recovered, but the CNS (central nervous system) is pretty drained and needs time off.  (This can happen with very intense activity.)  If this were his situation, I’d recommend to keep working, but cut the volume a bit – maybe 30-35% or so.  However, go easy.  Don’t train hard; just enough to keep active.  Jog instead of sprint.  Walk instead of jog.  Lift light and easy instead of heavy and fast… that sort of thing.

#3 – He feels good mentally and is motivated to work out, but is sore and his body is tired.

This happens to me more than anything.  This is usually a situation of the CNS still being ready to go, but the body just needing time off to repair and recover.  I can’t tell you how many times being motivated and not knowing when to back off has caused me more problems than not working hard enough.

In this case, I’d recommend cutting intensity by 30-35%, but cut way back on the volume.  Only work out once or twice during the week.  (This would, more or less, be the opposite of #2.)

#4 – He’s a bit drained, not as motivated, and body is sore.

In this case, both the CNS and the body are saying to take some time off.  Don’t feel bad; we all need it, sometimes.  Here, I’d recommend taking the week off from workouts.  I told Shawn if he wanted to do some other light activity for fun then that would be fine.  But don’t think of it as trying to “get a “workout in.”

The next time you’re faced with time away from the gym, think of these four different scenarios and which one applies to you.  Like Shawn, you’ll have to decide which one best describes your current state, and you can go from there.

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  • Adam Bruss

    “This happens to me more than anything. This is usually a situation of the CNS still being ready to go, but the body just needing time off to repair and recover. I can’t tell you how many times being motivated and not knowing when to back off has caused me more problems than not working hard enough.”

    That’s my experience as well. My CNS wants to go running every day and run my legs into stumps.