Rest has a bit of a bad name in our fast-paced, achievement-oriented culture. But rest is one of the many factors that contribute to good health and rest between strength workouts is no exception.
Strength training is the deliberate building of muscle with exercise. To build muscle, you need to force a process in your body which breaks down tissue and then re-builds it as muscle. For that process to be effective, you need to give your body a chance to do what it needs to.
Not to rest adequately is to effectively undermine your strength training, by circumventing a necessary physical process.
Some people get tied up in knots about taking a rest from their workout efforts. They worry that not being in “beast mode” to take a needed breather is somehow slowing down their progress.
There is a lot of erroneous thinking around this issue, so let’s review a couple of the myths surrounding strength training.
Goals don’t sleep!
The ubiquitous internet meme is a big part of the problem around the issue of resting between workouts. “Goals don’t sleep!”, they urge us. But the thing is, that if you don’t rest and allow your body to catch up with your goals, you’re not going to meet them.
What works is consistency. Be consistent in working out and in taking the rest of you need between workouts.
I could be working out.
Sure, you could be. You could be in perpetual “beast mode”. But that would be counter-productive. Not only are you not allowing your body’s processes to help you achieve your goals, you’re exposing yourself to the risk of injury by pushing yourself harder than is advisable.
Resting between strength workouts allows your body time to replenish its glucose stores. Your body’s still working, it’s just working behind the scenes.
How long you rest is largely dependent on your routine and its intensity, so let’s look at that next.
So, how much rest?
At least one resting day per week is the minimum for those engaged in strength training. Of course, as I said above, your routine should drive your decisions in this regard.
If you’re focusing on the upper body and lower body on alternate days, taking a day between that two-day schedule before starting the process again is advisable, particularly if you’re lifting heavy.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) demands a lot from your whole body, so taking a day off between each visit to the gym is a good policy.
How must rest you really need between strength workouts depends on the type of training you’re doing and the way you organize your training schedule. The guidelines shown here are general and should be adapted to your weekly routine.
But whatever you’re doing and no matter how lofty your goals are, it’s clear that rest should be programmed into that routine, so that you get the muscle development you want, prevent injury and give yourself a chance to recover.
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