Going to the gym and seeing your body grow is an absolutely wonderful feeling.
Training can be very enjoyable and for most active weight trainers, going to the gym is one of the highlights of their day.
This is a time to make progress towards their goal of getting bigger and stronger, a time to challenge your body and to reach new milestones.
Taking time off from training however, is more often than not, is seen as a bad thing.
In the world of athletic training and competitive sports, often, we take the view that more is often better.
If something’s working, why not double it up and get even more results? Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t give your body the time it needs to fully rest and recover, your muscles will not grow. When it comes to building muscle, there is such a thing as doing too much.
Rest is one of the main factors in gaining weight fast. Simply put, you have to rest in order to allow your body the time it needs to grow. Give your body the time it needs to rebuild and recuperate from hard and intense weight training. You know what the real problem with over training is? It’s very, very hard to come back from. Keep training with no rest or recuperation and you’ll stop your growth cold in it’s tracks.
Everyone has a different rest schedule and the amount of recuperation that is needed can only be determined by you. No one system will work for everyone because individual bodies differ.
It depends on your age, gender, weight, and fitness level. An older beginning trainer will need a lot more rest than a young competitive body builder.
However, when you are at the gym, you should never feel very sore and/or tired. You should be rested, energized and ready to hit the weights hard. If you’re sore and tired (physically and emotionally), and your simply showing up to the gym to go through the motions, you should stay at home and rest for another day or two.
Going through the motions with the same weight and the same number of repetitions you always do will not get you anywhere. Your body will be simply repeating what it’s already done many times before. As a worst case scenario, you will injure yourself when you are sore and tired.
It’s better to take a day or two off and fully recuperate so you can lift more weight when you return to the gym. This way, you feel energized and are ready to pack on the weight for more strength and this means more growth. I know, we don’t want to lose strength because of time off but trust me, you’ll actually come back stronger.
Here’s the way I look at it. I go to the gym for a very specific purpose and that’s to challenge my body and grow. I simply refuse to show up to the gym to go through the motions. I’ve done all that before and it simply doesn’t work. I strongly suggest you show up to the gym rested, energized and physically and mentally prepared to make that workout the best of your life.
Let’s say you had a mind busting triceps workout yesterday and today, your triceps are killing you and you have to train shoulders. Stay at home and rest. If you’re training shoulders today but your triceps are still killing you from the arm workout you, stay at home and rest one more day.
Believe me, you’ll gain a lot more if you stay at home, feed your body and get the rest you need.
If you find that applying this rule gets in the way of your current workout schedule, than it’s an indication that you are going to have to stretch out your training schedule. There’s nothing wrong with this.
Gone are the days of training six days a week for three hours per day. Unless you’re a professional body builder on various anabolic compounds, this kind of schedule will not work for the average person looking to gain weight and build muscle.
Most athletes and seasoned weight trainers have changed their routines from the traditional two or three day split of body parts to a four day division of body parts. Others have added additional rest days between body part rotations.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your training routine is as follows:
Day one: Chest, Back and Triceps;
Day two: Legs, Calves, and Abs;
Day three: Shoulders and Biceps;
Day four: Rest;
Day five: Repeat;
However, let’s say, more often than not, that by the time shoulders and biceps comes along, you find that your biceps and triceps are still sore from Monday’s workout. This would give you an indication that you might want to spread your training sessions out.
Here’s an alternative approach:
Day one: Chest and Triceps;
Day two: Rest;
Day three: Legs, Calves, and Abs;
Day four: Rest;
Day five: Shoulders, Back, and Biceps;
Day six: Rest;
Day seven: Repeat.
Although your not training as much, you’ll actually come into the gym more rested. This method lengthen the period between training sessions for a particular body part and increase the time available for recuperation.
Another option you might want to consider is to cut down on the number of sets that you do in the gym. If your doing 15 to 20 sets per body part – Chances are, your doing a little too much. By adding too much volume to your training, your basically increasing the amount of time you need to recuperate.
Try cutting the sets down to 8 to 12 per body part and add additional intensity to the exercise. Remember that the muscle grows from peak intensity, not from an excessive volume of training. I believe Lee Haney said it best – Stimulate Not Annihilate Leads To More Growth –
Here’s the truth about rest and recovery. You don’t build muscle in the weight room, you grow it in bed with your eyes shut. Much of the body’s recuperation occurs when you are sleeping. This is the time to grow because the greatest amount of growth hormone release happens when your sleeping. I recommend you try and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Try and keep this as a pattern and don’t sway too much from the schedule.
Weight training increases the amount of sleep required as the body fully recuperates in order to get ready for the next training session. The body can’t make up for lost sleep nor can it “store” sleep so it is essential to get the sleep you need every night.
However, different people have different sleep requirements. However, generally, you want to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep – Every night. Try and form a good sleep pattern and you’ll allow your body to recuperate fully which means more growth.
Remember, rest is an essential component to gaining weight and building muscle. Get enough rest and you’ll be coming into the gym alert, energized and ready to destroy the weights. We’ve developed a rest and recuperation guide that will help you plan your recuperation strategy, click here to access.
All the best,
Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.
Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.