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I am feeling pretty battered and reckon I really need to take a week off from lifting weights.

What are some things I should take into consideration?

Should I adjust my diet? Eat less? Eat less protein? More vegetables?

Is doing some light cardio going to get in the way?

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Hi Mongus. Yes you should adjust your diet. Please subscribe to this site if you have any diet related questions: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/44550/nutrition –  Mew Jan 1 '13 at 1:57
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7 Answers 7

In terms of exercise I believe you should do nothing at all. That said, I can't do that. I feel tired and in a bad mood if I don't train. I have been successful taking an unloading week instead of a full resting week. In the unloading week I do the same workout, half the weight double the reps.

In terms of food I keep the same meals and calories except I have a lighter post-workout meal (My usual one is huge!).

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Take time off until you are itching to get back in the gym. Sometimes you just need a mental break as well as a physical break. Don't put a time limit on it. During this time off, you won't be burning as many calories, so just focus on maintaining weight. Keep your protein the same and change as little as possible about your diet.

Light cardio, such as walking is fine. The focus should be on active recovery, and the longer walks are a chance to clear your mind, think on things other than training, etc.

When you come back, you may want to choose a different method of training. You can go for longer stretches and build strength in the 70-80% of your 1RM. It doesn't sound amazing, but it works. Most strong people I've followed tend to do more volume with lower weights to build their strength. There's a few reps over time over 90%, but only a few. The vast majority of the work is done in the 70-80% range which is much easier to recover from.

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I found that eating more and supplementing with protein and creatine helps with my recovery a lot. I've never experienced DOMS anymore and have steadily increased the weights I've been lifting. I've been lifting and following the StrongLifts program for more than 8 months now.

Also, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a day and rest up during the off-days (no cardio, no x-training, no nothing!)

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Once in a while it's actually take a week off between training programs, in case you train hard like 5 days a week.

The best thing to do during a week off is to eat clean. You may want to cut down little bit of carbs since you won't train.. but in order to maintain muscle mass watch out for your daily protein intake.

Your daily protein intake should be like 1.5 grams per pound of lean body mass rougly. There are some simple calculators on the web aswell.

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I would recommend doing a search on Endurance Plantet's itunes page for podcasts on Recovery, over training etc. From what I've gathered: you should reduce your calorie intake (not too much) because you aren't exercising as much. Particularly restricting Carbohydrates.

Avoiding stimulants found in things like coffee that would cause inflammation. Your main goal should be to reduce inflammation, so eat plenty of good fats: fatty fish, nuts etc. because good fats contain hormones that need to be replaced when you've overreached/overtrained.

Active recovery sessions (up to 45 minutes at a fat burning heart rate) on an elliptical, in the pool etc. are supposed to flush lactic acid from your system. Foam rolling/massages would also be a great option. These practices should be done in the first few days while the lactic acid is still there.

Again, I would recommend Endurance Planet and posts from Ben Greenfield fitness about recovery for even more tips!

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Where is the evidence that coffee causes inflammation? E.g., regarding a 2010 German study: "Researchers showed that drinking coffee led to improved markers of subclinical inflammation". There have been some studies which purport a correlation between coffee consumption and inflammation, but the ones I've seen have been pretty shaky. I don't think we can conclude firmly either way at this point. And, in other studies, coffee drinking has been associated with some significant health benefits. –  Chelonian Dec 6 '11 at 18:39
    
"Good fats contain hormones that need to be replaced when you're overreached/overtrained." That is not true. No fats "contain" any hormones. Hormones are small molecules synthesized by our bodies. It's true that the building blocks of hormones can, in some cases, be fats (lipids). Also, where is the evidence that hard workouts causes depletion of hormones? –  Chelonian Dec 6 '11 at 18:44
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If you are feeling battered, something is wrong. I would overeat slightly, focusing on quality food at 10am and 3pm. Avoid the usual: trans fats and refined sugars. Make sure you have enough salt (yup, salt), magnesium and healthy fatty acids in your diet. Also make sure you are getting enough sleep. Forego all steady-state aerobic work, though you may want to do a lighter version of your normal lifting routine during your week off. If your significant other or boss are giving you a hard time, I would do my best to avoid them too during your recovery time. Good luck!

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Remember for persons without heart conditions the daily recommended amount of sodium intake is less than 2300mg. This value drops to 1500mg of sodium based on age, race, and certain medical issues. –  Grohlier Dec 27 '12 at 17:58
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For recovery I would say still eat plenty of protein that will help your muscles to repair/recover. In regards to adjusting your diet, unless you have specific goals to either bulk or cut, you should be fine eating as you were before. I would suggest since your not working out you do some stretching or light cardio as you suggested, it might help from getting any sort of stiffness during your break, just my suggestions though.

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I find that swimming is a good option if you're sore but still want to be active. It's a great way to get your whole body moving, stretch out, and there's no pounding involved like there is in running. –  Lauren Dec 5 '11 at 21:32
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