The long training cycle has come to a close. All of your hard work was put on display during your max out session or on a platform at a meet and you are ready to get back to training! You pull up your program annnnnnnd…..transition week? What is this boring week with hardly any weightlifting? Won’t I lose everything I just worked for? What about my gains?! Trust us when we tell you that this week or two of transition is as important as any other in a program. There will be times throughout the year that you will have to skip transitional periods of training, but if you can afford to take time off we strongly encourage it. Lets talk about why transitions are important and the huge benefits they provide athletes at every level.
The first thing to look at when talking about transition weeks is the physical break it provides. Athletes train for months on end and run their bodies into the ground preparing for a meet or the end of a training cycle, so it is important that the body receives some well-earned rest. Even if you didn’t quite achieve your goals for the training cycle, your body still needs a break from the physical beating it takes. Transition weeks don’t need to be devoid of all weightlifting, but you should come back to normal training rested and recovered from the toll the peak and meet took on you.
The second and most important reason to take a transition period is the mental break it provides. When you train for 12-16 weeks preparing for a culminating moment during a max out or at a meet, there are many moments of excitement, elation, and triumph as well as frustration, doubt, and defeat. It is for this reason that you must give your mind the time it needs to recharge. When you do this, you begin to stoke the fire and reignite your motivation to come back and train harder than ever.
Burnout is extremely common among athletes in all sports and it is often due to year round training. The longer you stay in this sport, the more beneficial a long transition period will be to your training. Athletes at the Olympic level have been known to take months or even a year or so off of serious training and come back just fine. Obviously if you are a newer athlete you will need to return relatively quickly to training because of the need to continue to acquire skill, but a week or two WILL NOT hurt you.
What do these transition weeks look like? You can come in with no plan, a loose plan, or a structured plan that limits your exposure to the lifts. Get in the gym, have fun, and get out. Your time in the gym should be as limited as possible. Go enjoy life and other activities outside of training. You will undoubtedly begin to get a bit antsy and feel like you NEED to snatch or clean & jerk. Take a breath and allow that feeling to build over a week or two. If you give yourself the time to transition, you will come back to training with a fire lit under your ass that will carry you through the next long cycle and the grueling sessions ahead of you.