Taking breaks from training means you're soft and weak, right? You're probably told that taking even a week off from training will put you behind your competition and negate all your past hard work.
However, research shows that's not necessarily the case.
A 2013 study that was recently highlighted by strength and conditioning researcher Chris Beardsley on Instagram shows that taking time off from working out might not have much of an impact on your results.
The study observed two groups over a 24-week period. One group trained for 24 weeks straight, while the other group did three six-week training blocks with three weeks of rest between each block.
Surprisingly, both groups experienced similar results even though the second group took six of the 24 weeks off. That's 25 percent fewer weeks of working out to produce nearly the exact same muscle strength and size results.
Beardsley has a few possible explanations for these results. The breaks in training may allow for higher quality workouts when beginning training again, or your muscles become more sensitive to exercise due to the break from lifting.
So yes, you can theoretically take three weeks off from training after six weeks without much fear that your strength and muscle size will completely vanish. You may see some short-term visible differences in muscle size, but that's from decreased neurological activity to the muscle, not an actual decrease in size.
This is not to say you should frequently take three weeks off from training. But it shows that if a time comes when you need to take time off, whether you have a nagging injury, busy schedule or life simply gets in the way, you don't have to totally freak out.
In fact, taking a short break might set you up for better workouts in the future and increased strength and size gains, especially if you occasionally deload and take the time to recover.
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