Back Off Week

Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 31 2010

Stress: the consequence of the failure of an organism – human or animal – to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats, whether actual or imagined.

You’ve been hitting Crossfit hard for a few months/years.

You’ve made progress, you’re happy with it.

But…you’ve plateaued.

Your data backs it up: same squat numbers, same deadlift, same press, same benchmarks time (or even back sliding a little). You talk to your coach, and we eliminate variables: sleep, diet, work, relationships. Everything checks out.

So what’s the deal?

You are permanently living in the area of the curve between Resistance and Exhaustion. No matter how much rest you take, you’re going to push into that gray area again and again.

So if your data is showing plateaus and you’ve been training consistently for at least six months, do yourself a favor and take the “Do I Need a Back Off Week?” Quiz:

Answer Yes/No to the following Questions:

1) I get nervous or queasy thinking about going to the gym.
2) I’m scared to look at the Workout of the Day.
3) I never look forward to the next workout.

If you answered “Yes” to at least two of these, then there’s a good chance that you are hanging around in that netherworld between Resistance and Exhaustion, and it’s time to start taking Back Off Weeks.

So What Is a Back Off Week?

Come in your normal schedule but all you do is:

1) Lift 50% of your 1RM for the barbell movements (or your Wendler prescription)
2) Do 50% of the METCON at 70% speed (or just skip it).
3) Do a TON of mobility/prehab/rehab.

By the end of the week, if you’re not salivating at the thought of the next heavy day or METCON, then you’re still not recovered enough. Continue to stay in “Back Off Mode” until you are ready to get back to 100%.

As always, talking to a coach is key. Also, doing Wendler 531 will help you greatly.

What are your questions?

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3 Responses

  1. Steven S says:

    How often?

    Should these be regularly scheduled (a la Wendler) or as you feel your ability to perform decreasing?

    And how do you differentiate between sleep/diet/work/whatever-related performance problems and performance problems that stem from needing to back off in training?

  2. [...] like an athlete. Foam rolling, lax ball pre-WOD. Static stretching post-WOD. 4) Back off week. Few things better for your ligaments and attitude than an off week. 5) Talk to a coach. Some folks need rest, some folks need to be told to [...]