Rest Days

Published by jwilltrain on



Truth be told

If you do not workout more than 4 times per week this post probably isn’t for you.

The goal for most avid gym dwellers, gym rats, serious lifters, and amateur physique competitor’s, (at least the majority that I know) is muscle growth and development.

Called hypertrophy:

  • hypertrophy  the growth and increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of it’s components cells. 

Sound like a lot? Meh, it just means your muscle are getting bigger through doing activities like weightlifting. Without getting too scientific, there is also something called progressive overload. Increasing weight means increasing strength. Increasing strength in turn, increases muscle mass.


Starting out, many of us ferociously hit the weights with a determination like few. We hit it hard and for many, results come quickly. Quite often, especially in our youth, we take for granted our youth, and our bodies ability to adapt. We can go longer and harder and with more intensity. Our bodies respond and handle these self-induced beastmodes well. But youthfulness aside, everyone hits a plateau, slows their roll, or simply gets fatigued .

Enter the “rest day”.

Lot’s of Rest = Superior Workouts

Break it down

While we are curling, benching, shrugging, and squating we are make tiny tears in our muscle fibers. “Micro tears”. Shredding them really, utilizing Type I and Type II fibers. The workout or activity dictates which ones are being activated. If you’ve ever had a really good workout, (I mean truly beastmode) with your trainer, workout partner, or on your own, and your sore 2 days later this would be a prime example of that shredding.

The body then instinctively rushes in to repair those muscles, with the help of us replenishing needed protein, vitamins, and minerals, and the muscles grow. How does taking time off from working out play a part? Well, in layman’s terms, if you are constantly tearing down the muscles but not giving them time to repair and grow, at some point you’ll reach a plataeu and you’ll stop seeing dem gainz kid.


Central Nervous System

Forget about all that pre-workout and caffeine, overtime the exertion required to “go big” takes its toll on the brain. Let’s say you’ve got one of those jobs that you absolutely dread showing up to, and when you do all you think about is “lifting”:

a. props for making the gym a part of your life.

b. think about finding another work place environment.

The human body doesn’t compartmentalize between physical and mental stress. It all builds up and manifests itself with the tell-tale signs:

  • Moodiness/irritability
  • Constant soreness
  • Lagging performance levels
  • Injuries
  • Headaches

Quick Takeaway

How much rest a person needs is absolutely dependent on how intense, frequent, and what volume a person’s training schedule has. In weightlifting for example, conventional wisdom has dictated allowing 24 – 48 hours rest in between working the same muscle group. (Scratching head) Then next month someone promotes 72 hours minimum. The fitness is an ever changing industry and there are “new discoveries” all the time. I am a strong proponent of the “Push/Pull” method. A typically schedule may look something like this:

  • Monday – Chest/Triceps
  • Tuesday – Back/Biceps
  • Wednesday – Legs/Abs
  • Thursday – OFF 
  • Friday – OFF

This is one of many splits, however I chose this one because the two (2) rest days in a row are after three (3) consecutive days of heavy lifting. High volume and heavy weight.

If exercise is a mainstay in your life, seriously, you get double props from me. If you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned above though, or lagging in the gains department, think about your rest days. When you place them. How many you take.