TIP#1.13 - 3 Reasons Why Your Body Loves Rest Days
While the emphasis for improvement should always be placed on Training Approach, without enough Rest the training itself becomes irrelevant. When muscles are broken down optimally in the gym, it will take 4-5 days until they are completely recovered. A muscle cannot be repaired while under Intense stress in the gym. So when you have a Chest workout one day, and you decide to do more Intense Chest training before the muscles have repaired, what you are doing is temporarily halting the repair process during that training session window. Plus, even though you might have created more micro tears in the Chest for more potential growth, the body is still trying to repair the micro tears from the previous workout - leaving you with even more Chest muscle to be repaired before your next Chest workout. You do this a few times in a row and you've created a never ending cycle of muscle breakdown without sufficient repair. What this eventually leads to is muscle loss, scar tissue build up, stress hormone release and halted gains: Which are essentially symptoms of over training.
The best thing about Rest is that it is the time when our muscles grow. We create the potential for growth in our muscles in the gym, and then they actually grow when we Rest. When we enjoy training and the feeling we get both during and after training, we get hooked. Eventually, we love training so much that we train as often as possible, without any consideration for Resting at all. We might really mean well, as we love our bodies and we just want to get better and better, but as our Training Approaches become more effective or Intense (the more we know about effective techniques) then the more that Rest becomes vitally important.
2. Unnatural Stimulations
Yes, our bodies are designed for physical exertion every single day without the onset of 'over training' or anything like that. However, we are fitness enthusiasts and we're focused on building muscle and burning fat and we are knowledgeable about creating huge change in our cells through very challenging techniques and approaches - things that are actually much more extreme for our bodies than just being an active human roaming the environment surviving off the land. We are deliberately damaging our muscle fibres a lot, and widely manipulating our matabolisms, almost on a daily basis. The human body was not adapted to e.g. - Chest Press machines, or the Pectoral fly, leg presses, tricep extensions etc - so the challenge for our muscles to do those things, even only for short periods, it actually a big deal. The huge turnover of muscle repair, maintenance and growth is a big task for the body to undertake every single day, so giving it some much needed Rest is vital.
Another way you can look at it is through DOMs, delayed onset muscle soreness. When our muscles are sore, that's because our muscle is damaged. Our nervous system is actually telling us we are in pain - and we all know Pain is a signal to us to 'stop doing what we are doing or risk permanant damage.' In theory, what we trainees do in the gym is completely crazy, we deliberately cause our bodies harm and eat huge amounts of food in the hope that they will repair stronger, bigger and become leaner. Our bodies are constantly telling us to stop and yet we carry on. Even during the workouts we feel tremendous amounts of pain, and yet we carry on - for the results that we want. Give your body what it needs, Rest! 4 weight training sessions per week is more than enough, when you do it properly.
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Thanks so much for Reading!!
Matt The Trainer
Personal Trainer London