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Recently I ran into my old friend and training partner. He always had an impressive physique and nothing had changed. Pat looked as big and muscular
as ever, but he was very discontent with his training. Apparently an unexpected personal problem had kept him away from the weights. "I hadn't missed
a workout in seven years until this happened," he sighed, "and now I haven't set foot in the gym for over a month!" "So what's the problem?" I
responded. "Well, I've started to lose everything that I worked so hard to build in the first place," he said. "And now that I'm able to start
training again, I can't seem to find the drive because I'm burned out. I feel small and weak. I'm so depressed. There's nothing to motivate me. I feel
as if I'm finished."
"How wrong you are!" I said. "Think about it. Because of muscle memory you'll get all your size and strength back (and then some!) very quickly once you're back into the swing of things. Hell, taking a month off is probably the best thing that you could have done for your body and your training."
It can happen to the best of us. Regardless of how sincere our intentions may be, no matter how hard we may try, we are all susceptible to bodybuilding burnout. This phenomenon is marked by a total loss of energy, drive, motivation and concentration to train. Numerous factors may force one to take a break from one's bodybuilding routine. A new job, a move, stress, financial obligations, an injury, family crisis, birth of a child, etc., etc., etc. can all cause us to fall prey to this seemingly horrific condition. And let's face it, some events that occur in our lives are far more important than making sure we get a workout in! In fact, sometimes bodybuilding burnout can result for no other reason at all than the sheer monotony of day-to-day training. Whatever the reason may be, we must learn how to (and this is the hard part!) overcome the situation and use this time off from the gym to our advantage. I know what you're thinking: 'Easier said than done!' Not so, and I'll tell you why. In as much as the vast majority of us are not professional bodybuilders, nor do we have aspirations of reaching that level, we should I? be able to readily accept the premise that we always strive to be our personal best, while remaining realistic enough to know our own physical limitations. We can't all look like Dorian Yates, no matter how much we may want to, no matter how hard we try. Only a handful of people on the entire planet have the genetic capability to build their physiques to this freakish extreme. That's life.
As surprising as it may sound, not many people want to look like the top bodybuilders of today - even if they could! Sure, millions of people all over the world admire and enjoy the amazing physiques of today - and they are unquestionably an incredible sight to behold - but to look like one? No way. That said and genetics aside, how many individuals are willing to live the potentially unhealthful lifestyle necessary to become a pro bodybuilder to follow the ultra strict diet, to train religiously and fanatically, to subject their body to all sorts of chemicals and various steroids? Undoubtedly it takes a special breed of cat to become a hardcore bodybuilder. Those who achieve top status in this sport get my utmost respect and admiration, for they are, in my opinion, among the strongest people in the world - mentally and physically. They are able to use what God has given them and build an incredible physique. With almost inconceivable self-discipline and unrelenting determination, top bodybuilders take the human body to heights never thought possible. Judging from the way physiques have progressed over the past 20 years, it is difficult to foresee what the bodybuilders of tomorrow will look like. To what epic proportions can the human body be developed? Only time will tell, but that's a different topic.
Back to the issue at hand. Since the vast majority of us live a normal life, we have to realize that, unlike those who make their living from bodybuilding, we can afford to take the occasional break from training. We must first realize that by giving our bodies ample rest we will ensure our ability to come back to the gym completely refreshed and recharged. The trick is to remedy the situation that caused you to take the time off in the first place. Once you've managed that, the hardest part is over.
Contrary to popular belief, your muscles won't shrink or become pathetically weak from not training for a while. Quite the opposite! Muscles and joints benefit greatly from he occasional layoff. Not only that, but a "vacation" from the gym will also do you a lot of good mentally because you will feel as if you are starting a new period of muscular growth and development. And you will be starting a new period of growth and development. So the next time you have to put your training on the back burner or even on a temporary hiatus, don't worry. Your body will thank you in the long run. I guarantee it!