Feb 13, 2002

Strength Training Layoffs

 " There are some things that can beat smartness and foresight; awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no. The person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him." - Mark Twain (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court)

StrongerAthletes.com believes in athletes being consistent in their strength training regimen. One of the main challenges a strength coach has with his athletes is to make adjustments to each athletes program when necessary to make sure progression in strength continues. This could mean that an athlete take a layoff once in awhile.

It has long been believed that if an athlete does not train a certain muscle frequently, it will atrophy and lose strength. StrongerAthletes.com maintains that this 96 hour rule is false. This is simply one of those theories that people have inherited without really giving it much thought themselves. Similar to performing Olympic lifts, people do them because someone said that is the way to develop power, not because they have researched the benefits. Both of these theories have not been backed up by much scientific research.

A one week layoff could be very beneficial to the athlete that has been training with a high amount of intensity and to muscular failure. We recommend taking a week layoff every 8-12 weeks. Again this is an individual thing, each athlete recovers at a different rate.

One exception to the 96 rule is the athlete that trains with a lower intensity and never reaching muscular failure on many sets. This athlete can recover much quicker and layoffs would be less frequent. Another exception would be the athlete that performs primarily Olympic lifts. These lifts do not involve the muscles being trained to failure and are at a lower intensity. Technique is important in these lifts and are done more frequently.

One example of how an extended layoff can be beneficial for the athlete was witnessed last winter. We had an athlete train consistently from December to the end of May and took a 3 week vacation in which he could not train at all. He came back at the end of June and performed more reps on every exercise at the same weight. How did this occur? We believe that the 96 hour rule is bogus for the athlete that trains with a high intensity. If anybody else has another opinion or story, we would like to hear from you and post-it up.

StrongerAthletes.com Strength Training Coach's Manual

We are proud to present, a brief but complete strength training manual for use by athletes, coaches, and strength training instructors. The manual covers the fundamentals of safe, efficient, and productive strength training techniques. The coach will find many coaching points and tips to assist in implementing the StrongerAthletes.com philosophy into training sessions or classes.

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***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the StrongerAthlete.com website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***