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Venom 02-15-2007 02:48 AM

Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
President Wilson and I have done extensive research on tapering the last several years (refer to, ).

President and I are of the mindset that an athlete should never need to take time off, but rather, they should taper, and implement tapering regularly into their program. If this advise is followed, I do not believe time off will be neccesary. However, there has been one or two debates on here suggesting that there may be some efficacy to taking time off.

It may be argued that time off is good from a psychological perspective. But I feel that this is entirely dependent on the individual. Many athletes absolutely hate taking time off, because they fear it will hurt their gains. But this certainly does not apply to everyone, so that argument may have some validity. It does not, however, invalidate the argument that taking time off is suboptimal to performance, from purely a physiological standpoint.

Currently, I have been doing massive research on tapering. President and I recently submitted a completely up-to-date research article on tapering to a peer reviewed journal; I just did a 90 minute lecture on the topic in a Masters Seminar, and composed a 40 page paper for that as well.

One of the key topics I wanted to investigate, was the effects of taking time off on exercise induced physiological and performance adaptations.

I found an excellent review article by Mujika and Padilla (2000) that thoroughly examined this question. Here is a summary of their findings:

Table 1.

The effects of 1-4 weeks of time off on Training Induced Performance & Physiological Adaptations in Advanced Athletes and In-experienced participants

(Created by Wilson, G., 2007; Data from Mujika & Padilla, 2000).

And as can be seen in our articles on here, and hopefully in our peer reviewed publication in the near future, tapering has the opposite effect of increasing all of these measurements.

Here is the reference, as well as a reference to the effects of chronic time off.

MUJIKA, I., and S. PADILLA. Detraining: loss of training-induced physiological and performance adaptations. Part I: short term insufficient training stimulus. Sports Med. 30: 79-87. 2000.

MUJIKA, I., and S. PADILLA. Detraining, loss of training-induced physiological and performance adaptations. Part II, Long term insufficient training stimulus. Sports Medicine 30, 145-154. 2000.


rickck48 02-15-2007 05:35 PM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
I thank you for this review. First off I am a prime example of taking off, 1st for I work construction in get into those 10-12 hour days sometims and don't take or have the time to workout. I went as much as 3 months, and I find that my VO2 is greatly changed. My strength as I came back ad decreased dramtically even as i work in this industry of lifting and straining as we call it. Mt consenus is for myslef, I hate taking off, taperig yes, but I hope I never have to take for any lengthy period again! Thanks for the chance to share this with you all. Just MHO on taking off. [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

DirtbagDan 02-17-2007 11:00 PM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
I feel this highly depends on how long your off-time is. One week off will not hurt you and will actually be a positive benefit for your muscles. Any more than that (we are talking ZERO weight lifting activity here), and your body starts to go into the negative and break down the unused muscle tissue.

When I take one week off training, I come back into the gym exponentially stronger in nearly every muscle group and exercise than I left with. If I take any longer than this off, I go into the negative and lose strength and mass.

I much prefer taking one week off rather than tapering.

lifting5 02-18-2007 12:31 AM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
I agree with Dan, I'm a fan of time off instead of tapering. I do, however, agree with Venom that is vastly depends on the athlete. I, for one, have to take time off occasionally for various reasons (school, work, lack of sleep, visiting gf or friends). However, I'm not a professional athlete so I think I can get away with it, whereas if it was my job, I think it would be a different story. Whenever I take time off I return to the gym with a hungry mentality, and am capable of having much more intense workouts.

Venom 02-18-2007 12:58 AM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
Yes, my question is more from a physiological than psychological standpoint, because motivation is going to vary from individual to individual. I personally hate taking time off. :/ I gain fat, and my performance suffers. And that decreases my motivation. But tapering provides me with a similar magnitude of motivation and refreshment when I go back to training. I always look fuller after a taper (and often leaner), and my performance is greater, which further increases my motivation.

Here is an abstract I wrote up a little while ago on the effects of one week off, vs. two different types of tapers,

The main finding of this study was that a 7 day high-intensity, low volume taper improved running time to fatigue, muscle glycogen concentrations, total blood volume, and citrate synthase activity. In contrast, a low intensity high volume taper effected non of these variables; and rest only resulted in a decrease in several of these parameters.

Also, several of the studies from that review were 1-2 weeks in duration.

I do think taking a week off instead of tapering will dissipate fatigue faster; which is why you may feel better after a complete week off. But you could just taper for 10-14 days, instead. It will take a little bit longer to dissipate the fatigue, but the fitness gains will be maintained with this method.

I would definitely be interested to see any studies that contradict this.

Venom 02-20-2007 04:21 AM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
One trend I notice, is that the people I can recall who argue for taking time off (e.g. the people in this thread, and dzoni) are HIT advocates.

When contemplating many of the HIT routines I have seen, they are actually quite similar in training load to my tapers. I would be interested to know how someone who does a HIT routine would implement a taper, since their frequency and volume is already so low, and their intensity is already near maximal (i.e. closer to a 1 RM load). It would be a challenge to design a taper I would think. The only variable I could see manipulating is perhaps less reps. And maybe less frequency (which is not optimal on a taper).

Dzoni 02-20-2007 08:36 AM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
The way I see it, shorter period of working out (lets just call it a "blast" because I'm so used to it). The shorter the blast is, I'd taper and go in to the gym for 10 days to 14 days lift light weights (the explanation I have in the other thread that Venom asked for). If I go for a longer period of time, 10 weeks and I have to cut my blast then, I would take 7-10 days OFF lifting, if I feel its really needed. I'll still do my cardio and follow the diet as I planned to do as per lifting.

Once again, it all depends how strong the symptoms of over training are for me.

richnewton 03-08-2007 02:44 PM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
I despise taking time off. My body responds to punishment so punishment is what I give it. =)

huskerwr38 05-29-2007 04:58 PM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
I took almost 3 weeks off when I got married. I could definately tell that I got soft and probably gained a little fat. I would not ever take more than a week off. Right now, I feel as if I am at the highest BF that I've been since I was a kid.

Bahir 05-29-2007 07:59 PM

Re: Research Question of the Week - Should we take time off?
I definetly think you should take time off once in a while: no tapering should be done what so ever. Even though it might be benefitial for the muscles, I think the joints really deserve some rest, and taking a week of will not make you lose any muscle or strength, assuming that you are healthy and eat right. I say this from an anecdotal standpoint, since I've done it several times, due to exhaustion, scheduling issues and other things. If you are sick however, a cold might make you a bit weaker (but not visually smaller), and a flu will destroy you.

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