« You Can Do Anything In 15 Minutes | Main | Is Periodization A Hoax? »

Don't Plan Your "Off Weeks"


Unless you're a competitive athlete of course

I do incorporate a taper phase for my competitive clients— the details vary depending on a host of factors, but the essence of a good taper is a reduction in volume, while maintaining intensity, and maintaining (or in some cases actually increasing) training frequency.

But if you don't compete, I wouldn't recommend that you plan your taper phases or "down weeks." Here's why:

1) It'll happen anyway. Despite your best efforts, you’re likely to lose at least two weeks of training every year due to injuries, illnesses, or unforeseen interruptions, such as holiday festivities, unplanned “emergencies,” and so forth.

2) You’re going to have “slumps.” Almost all dedicated weight-slingers have strings of bad workouts, where for unexplained reasons, their performance is well below par. Last week you pulled 445 like a hot knife through butter; today, you can’t pull 395 high enough to slide a sheet of paper under the plates. When you encounter this type of slump, it’s wise to listen up and make some loading adjustments, even if you were planning on some big numbers this week. Bottom line: your body is requesting a down week. I’d take it if I were you.

3) You might miss a PR. As much as periodization enthusiasts will disagree with me on this, you can’t really predict great performances— all you can do is create a favorable environment for them, and then hope for the best. Often, PRs (or the potential for PRs) sneak up on you when you least expect it— like during a taper week. So my advice is to train as continuously as possible, take a down week when your body needs one, but keep yourself in position to “strike when the iron is hot.” Because a PR is a terrible thing to waste…


TrackBack URL for this entry:


  1. shamrockster on Oct 29, 2007 12:49:20 PM:

    dear charles,
    i think i qualify to comment on this forum coz i'm a forty year old trainer(trainee) who is well in to his 20 plus year in lifting, teaching martial art based combat classes & running to get in to great shape. ofcourse, dieting not negelected. first up, the compliments. i have edt dvd, bootcamp videos, unnatuarl athelte, physically incorrect etc from you. (lawfully brought from you). second on few occassions i have asked you a question or two. but when i came to this forum i was under the impression that 40 plus meant something diffrent. i see no difference. lets not take the approach that all roads lead to rome. there has to be something special for us 40year olds. i cant still understand all the pain i get from my efforts from the gym, classes, running etc no matter how protracte, prolonged & periodized they are. even the smallest variation seems to bring on the pain fairy. so pls start addresing some of us old farts out there & help us get out of this mess. eventually, none of us want to prove that exercise is a myth. cheers

The comments to this entry are closed.