And on the seventh day he rested… Just think of that quote, and next time you are wondering why your fitness and muscle gains are not improving as you had wished, repeat it to yourself again and again. Then, rather than just saying it, do it. You need to rest so rest. Why, well here’s why.
Timing Is Everything
As in comedy, in men’s fitness timing is crucial. The time you rest and how you rest is key to your development, be it in terms of your overall fitness or in relation to muscle gains. Rest too long or too often and you lose the intensity and benefits of a good workout, rest too little and you risk burn out and injury – remember no levels of fitness improve nor muscles grow during a period of injury.
Constantly pushing the body to limits of its endurance and at times beyond is a tricky balance. Too much and you will cause injury, and that is one goal that nobody has. You need to listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you. Yes you need exertion, but not to the point of damage or over fatigue. The importance of a proper warm up and cool down for ever workout is also key.
Muscles Like Rest
Muscles need rest to repair and grow. Without the right food or rest, they will do neither and thus constant usage will not only limit gains but will promote the chances of damage.
Often people fear a dip, but studies have shown that it takes two weeks of inactivity before performances suffer, therefore one day of rest per week is only a good thing and will not affect your performances or gains.
We all know how powerful and important sleep is. It affects the body’s levels of cortisol, and how the body repairs itself. Well, overtraining and a lack of rest can in fact promote unhealthy sleep patterns and thus cause more harm than good.
Remember that the mind is a very powerful muscle and needs rest too. Lots can be gained from a break to any routine. It recharges both the physical and mental batteries and sharpens the focus. You will also less likely become tired of the regime itself if you allow yourself a break from it, and because of this, you’ll likely stick to it for longer.
It is not just resting between training days that matters, whilst you train can also be affected by those “rest” periods between sets. To maximise gains think about this downtime at the gym also. For the best gains think of the following:
- 60-90 second between sets with weights is a good guide, so a training partner may be ideal to aid this.
- For fat loss, think little rest on cardiovascular days, but more an alteration in intensity, varying between normal, increased and full effort.
- On fitness circuits, no more than roughly 30-60 second between stations.
- For strength gains, rest is a little longer between sets to allow the body to prepare for the next big push
Whatever your fitness or muscle gain aims are, they should always include an element of rest. Whilst the body can be pushed, it must also be allowed to relax and recover. Rest days are not lazy, they are sensible and essential, otherwise you’ll exert more and more effort and eventually burn out.
Remember, it is great from time to time to sit back and enjoy what you have created.