I wrote a post a few years ago about how my husband and I tend to cycle workouts being “on” a few months, and then “off” a few months. It works out pretty well for the most part, and it’s nice to have a more relaxed period where we aren’t exercising so hard (or at all really), and then feel geared up to go for a few months being hardcore and getting back into excellent shape. 😀
I feel like it brings balance and prevents burnout over the long haul, to cycle your “on” and “off” months. You don’t get overwhelmed or burned out as much because you have an end in sight and another beginning beyond that to look forward to. It’s kind of like interval training for runners. You can go hard for a few months because you know you’re getting a nice “break” coming up, and then once you’re rested, you begin again full power. And during your rest period, you enjoy a very in shape bod that doesn’t take so much to maintain.
The only problem I could see women having with this is not controlling their eating during their off months, which is understandbly hard – especially during the holidays. As long as you’re not gaining large amounts of weight through eating excessively (some splurges are normal), then it’s really not such a big deal to get yourself back in shape in a fairly short time frame. Anything over 10 pounds is probably too much to gain in your off months. Losing muscle is also something that wouldn’t be fun, but having dumb bells and learning some body weight exercises to use off and on again should keep you from losing too much muscle.
Here is what I’ve done in the past:
3 months on – Intense cardio and weights or mat workouts (Tracy Anderson)
3 months off – some light exercise every now and then, mostly eating healthy, some yoga, going for walks, playing outside with the kids (easy stuff that feels like relaxing exercises)
3 months on – By this time I’m fully ready for hard training again… it’s like my body craves it! Heavy weight training upper & lower body, intense cardio either running or HIIT or stair master climbing (doing intervals of fast and slow). Weight comes off fast but at the same time muscle takes it place.
3 months off – relaxing, maybe some yoga, enjoying feel fit from the months prior of getting in shape, if it’s Summer, we go swimming a lot which becomes our exercise, also a lot of walking at our water park, eating very clean (if it’s Summer lots of fruit and protein smoothies, salads, grilled chicken, etc.).
And that’s a whole year of cycling your workouts!
In reality, we’ve recently been doing longer cycles. More like 4-6 months on and then 4-6 months off. Either way it’s how you personally want to set up your workouts. There are some very few people who manage to workout hard every. single. day. but our schedules just change too much for that – either because of my husband’s work schedule, our son’s sports seasons, or me being pregnant or having just had a baby. So now that we have more kids, it’s more realistic to schedule our cycles around what’s happening in our lives at the time or during that particular year.
Anyway, I encourage anyone reading this to try cycling your training in this way! I swear it makes us feel so much more motivated and like it’s “doable” to know there’s an “end” in sight. And then once well rested, starting up again feels good. I’m sure it also lets your body heal and repair muscles and such to cycle it like this.