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I am doing exercises with weights 3 times per week. I started training 2 years ago and have made steady progress. I have lost weight gained strength. I had a very strict routine and I pushed myself to follow it and have not skipped any exercises or workouts for months.

However recently I switched jobs and moved to a new town and now I am experiencing a lack of progress with many of my exercises.

Stress in my work was really high, so 4 weeks ago I decided to take a break from working out for a week. Coming back, I was surprised that I still could do most of my exercises and it felt better.

This week, my motivation is once again gone. I already skipped my training on Monday and have now decided to take this full week off from training again.

My question is what recommendations are for workout breaks are and how it will affect my performance. Do I have to fear that I will lose the progress I made over the past 2 years? Nothing would be worse than regressing.

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Stalls can occur for a number of reasons. The most common reason has to do with recovery. You said that the stress in your job is very high, so that prompts me to ask "how are you sleeping?" and "how is your diet?".

Sleeping and eating are very important parts of recovery. You need the protein to build muscles. Unfortunately when you are stressed, most people want to fill up on crunchy salty snacks which are high in carbs--not protein. You can do the crunchy salty snacks in addition to the protein, but don't neglect eating/drinking your protein. Also, you really need 8 hours of real sleep for your body to really be able to perform the metabolic processes to build new muscles. If your eating habits have not changed, this is the first place I would look. Stress affects your ability to sleep and recover well.

To answer your question about breaks and training:

A week long break once or twice a year (vacation) isn't going to cause you to magically lose muscle. It will take at least 2 weeks before your body starts adapting to its lower amount of work.

Now, if you are squatting 1.5x your body weight, you are probably already past being able to progress as fast as you could at the beginning. If that's the case, you might want to look at some intermediate programs like Wendler 5/3/1, Texas Method, Madcow, or something of that sort.

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I agree that taking a short break isn't going to impact your strength/performance - HOWEVER you need to correct your stress/motivation levels, otherwise you may find yourself eventually taking a very long break. Find a sport, hobby, etc. that combines exercise (martial arts, volleyball, tennis) that will re-motivate you –  Meade Rubenstein Jul 7 '11 at 12:22
    
Very good point, Meade. I hope I was able to help provide some insight into why he is stalling--which I believe is due to his increased stress. –  Berin Loritsch Jul 7 '11 at 13:09
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What I really would recommend is to change your routine, if you have followed the same for 2 years. Variation is key for continued progress. You could vary both the exercises in each workout, and also the reps. I usually vary between 5 and 15 reps pr set. Maybe a month I am doing 12-15 reps, the next 8-12, and the one after that 5-8.

Also focus to eat and sleep right. Eight hours a night is recommended.

You could also do a 4-5 week cycle, where you increase your effort each week, and maybe do a 50 % effort week before you start over. This is something a lot of athletes do. 70-80-90-100-50 is an example of one cycle.

If you only train each muscle group one time a week, just forget great progress. At least train them each five days. They should get 48-72 hours rest.

Good luck!

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If you're stressed out, take a week off, of course.

Over the long term, you could take "strategic" breaks once every 4 ... 8 weeks. This won't affect short term progress too much, and may actually improve things over the very long term.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Plan accordingly.

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