How Much Rest Does The Body Need?
The rate with which the body can properly repair and rebuild muscle tissue will vary by the individual. There are numerous factors that influence this rate – everything from genetics to nutrition to other life-stresses.
The intensity with which you train (the effort you put forth) also impacts how much rest you will need. The prescription for muscle mass gain is training with maximum intensity. Done correctly, a mass gain training session will place great stress on the body.
Athletes new to intense weight training have a tendency to judge their ability to recover based on previous training sessions for their respective sports. Understand that the goal of a mass gain training session is to inflict maximum amounts of the small tears critical to the muscle building process. While the prescribed sessions may be short, they will require more recovery time than other forms of training.
As suggested on the main weight training program page, the following four rules should be enough to keep the typical trainer pursuing maximum muscle gain out of OTS danger:
The 4 Rules
- Each muscle group should be directly worked just once to twice per week if training with splits and 1-2 times if training with full-body routines.
- Each training session should be completed in under an hour.Studies have shown that you have a slightly less than 50 minute window from the time you begin really intensely taxing your muscles (after stretching and warming up) to the point where your weight training starts becoming progressively less effective in a rapid manner. Cortisol production increases and muscle protein is depleted.
- There should be a maximum of five workouts performed a week.
- Every 8-12 weeks, a one to two week break from the gym will help rejuvenate the body.
These are general guidelines. It is certainly true that some people may find they can recover faster than these guidelines allow. These people simply have greater recuperation abilities. It is also true that some people will find that they make greater gains by allowing for more recovery time – for some working a muscle group once per week can be too much.
Your ultimate goal should be to find your optimal ratio of training to rest. While pursuing that goal you want to lean more towards undertraining. You will gain more muscle undertraining greatly than you will overtraining a little.
To achieve maximum muscle gain, you simply must respect the value of adequate rest to the muscle building process. To work past a plateau, increased training can sometimes be effective but just as likely, probably more likely, backing off will be the ticket to getting muscle growth restarted.