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Workout Rest Days
How Much Rest Between Workouts?The Supreme Value of Doing NOTHING!
At last, something for bodybuilders that truly works wonders and costs nothing! By Pete Sisco
I received a telephone call from a guy named Stanley, in Massachusetts, who had been making good progress with his training but had recently hit a plateau that he just couldn't get past. Stanley is one of those guys with a tough-minded discipline that I can only admire. Despite his lack of progress in the gym, he did not get discouraged. He trained three days a week and he never missed a workout. That's not easy. Most of us get demoralized when we give so much effort in the gym and see nothing for our exertion. Not to mention the fact that it's very tough to drag yourself to the gym and perform a decent workout when it feels like every fiber of you body is saying, "Stop, I can't do it today."
Stanley and I did not have to talk very long before I realized he had classic symptoms of overtraining. He lacked energy, he didn't feel like training and he had not made the slightest progress in many weeks. I explained this is the pit into which everyone falls as they get stronger. Briefly, as your muscles become more powerful, they have the ability to perform workouts that really tax the rest of the body's organs like the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Those organs don't grow significantly along with the muscles so as you get stronger you have to cut back on training frequency.
I told Stanley to take three weeks off of all training. He said there was no way he could stay out of the gym that long. Actually, this is a common problem with serious bodybuilders. I know that Mike Mentzer ran into the same resistance when he councils "brief and infrequent" workouts. Psychologically, when you want to make progress, it is very difficult to do what seems like "nothing." Not training feels like throwing in the towel or admitting defeat in some way. But the truth is your body needs time to recover. Time off is not wasted time, it's time that is critical to the growth process. It took a lot of talk to convince Stanley but, to his credit, he took three weeks off of all training.
Two months later he called me back with results that will shock you. His strength increased in every area of his body and his shrug power had skyrocketed. His first workout after the layoff was a personal best. Now he's training once every 9 days. That's 18 days between workouts for the same bodyparts. Before this correction, he was training 4 times in just 9 days. Look at the numbers that he sent me.
October 11 November 8 December 17 365 lbs. 20 reps 405 lbs. 20 reps (easy) 405 lbs. 20 reps 400 lbs. 20 reps (very tough) 455 lbs. 20 reps 505 lbs. 20 reps 505 lbs. 16 reps 600 lbs. 12 reps
Stanley did not include his times for lifting so I don't know his Power Factor or Index numbers but his total shrug weight went from 15,300 lbs to 25,280 after doing nothing for 3 weeks. When was the last time you had a 3 week period that was that productive?
Think about that. Three weeks of no training, no supplements, no "light weight, high reps," nothing but sitting on his ass for three weeks and his progress outpaced everybody's. His training buddies couldn't believe their eyes. There's Stanley, who found it "very tough" to do 20 reps with 400 lbs. now hoisting 505 lbs. for 16 - after doing 455 lbs. for 20! Next time back in the gym he's playing with 600 lbs. And as far as his bonehead buddies are concerned he's "missed" the last 20 workouts! That's what I mean when I talk about "training smart."
By the way, can you imagine the advertising campaign if a nutritional supplement delivered the above results in two workouts??? I'd be a millionaire in one month. Well, time off is free. Use it!
Why don't we hear more about the value of time off and infrequent training? Money. You can't make a buck selling time off, time doing nothing related to lifting. (Although John and I used to joke that we should sell a "Power Factor Hammock.") You make money by telling a person he needs a different training routine, different equipment, advice from a different magazine and most of all, telling him he needs a different nutritional supplement. In fact, you tell him he needs ten or twelve supplements and each of them costs more than fresh sirloin or Alaska salmon. After all, who has the integrity to make the case that time off, which is free of charge, is one of the most potent training techniques of all time?
How to learn form this article:
Ask yourself these questions?
Could the above example apply to me too?
How long have I been training with the same frequency? (e.g. Once per week, 3 times per week.)
Do I make measurable progress every workout?
Am I going to the gym out of habit, for social reasons, or do I have a definite goal every visit?
Train Smart.Pete Sisco
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