Once upon a time I was 21 years old and my nose was shoved deeply into Arnold Schwarzenegger’s official Bodybuilding Encyclopedia and I remember being shocked about a point that he was advocating.
Essentially he was advocating for taking a week off of training assuming that one had been training extremely hard for at least 6-8 weeks straight.
He went on to describe the science behind it which was pretty rudimentary at the time, but since then I have looked into some of the more recent science and it is pretty clear cut that it makes sense to take some time off of the gym, or the pavement depending on what your preference is.
We Have Been Sold Yet Another Lie…
How many times have you been told that “more is better?”
Sometimes this old axiom can hold true, but more times than not, this “wisdom”
is severely flawed and when it comes to exercising this is no exception.
From a very myopic point of view this makes sense because we equate lifting heavier weights with bigger muscles and we equate more miles recording in our running log as greater endurance gains.
But is this really true?
How The Body Crumbles Under Excessive Exercise…
To begin this conversation I want to ask you a very simple question….
What ALLOWS your body to remain upright and able to execute all of the motions that the human body is so eloquently capable of?
It comes down to ONE basic tissue differentiates into 3 different tissues:
These are all a form of CONNECTIVE TISSUE and without these 3 tissues you would crumble into a puddle of nothingness.
When we “overtrain” by not giving these tissues an adequate time to heal, they begin to undergo a condition which is known as “cumulative microtrauma”. This basically means that they begin to break down excessively because they are not being given enough time to heal between training sessions.
To give you a good example of this, lets say that you get a really good lower body training day on Monday. You get really sore the next morning and the soreness lasts until Thursday of that week.
This leads to a very important question…
What is happening to all three of those tissues during your time of soreness and healing?
Essentially your bones, muscles and fascia are undergoing a remodeling phase after they got broken down in the gym.
If you don’t give all 3 of these tissues adequate time to heal, they will continue to break down to the point that you will no longer make strength gains and worse, lets say that you trained your lower body again on Wed or Thursday you will accelerate that breakdown to the point that your body is actually getting weaker!
So NO…more is not necessarily better! That is why the best trainers and coaches know how to “periodize” an exercise or strength conditioning program which essentially gives build in “rest periods” and lower intensity days so that these primary tissues can properly recover.
Your Simple Plan To Recover Properly
One simple practice that you can start with is taking an entire week off of training. This will allow your tissues to heal the cumulative microtrauma that has not had an adequate time to heal up to this point. It serves as an amazing starting point and you will be amazed at how much better you feel after you come back from the time off.
A few caveats apply here:
-Be sure that you have been training intensely for at least 2 months
-If you have not taken a break during those 2 months or longer.
-If you have noticed that you have plateaued in your progress
-If you have noticed that your energy or motivation to train as dipped from normal
After You Take a Week Off…
To avoid having to take another week off in the future I would advise you to simply listen to your body more. For example if you did your leg day on Monday and you feel like you have completely recovered by Thursday I would advise you to only to a medium or even a low day where you keep the same load of weight but you take the reps down by 2-3 reps. So say for example you crank out 12 reps on Monday you would want to do only 9 reps on a medium day and 8 on low day. The key is to let your body recover.
So there you have it! This simple hack will work wonders for your training. And if you think it will hamper your progress I just have to say it…your WRONG! 😉 I say it will knowledge and with love.:)
Here is to enhanced training by dong a little LESS!
Enjoy and remember…
Life is Good!