By: Marc Lobliner
The key to longterm success is time off for muscle recovery. I know, that is the antithesis of what we are told. We watched Pumping Iron with Mike Katz talking about being made fun of and then training non-stop.
“I can remember times
when kids would be going to
and I would leave a dance,
like, at night.
I’d leave a dance for no reason
and say, ”I’ll show them. ”
And go and run on a track
for two or three hours.
Or go home and lift weights.”
As we progress and get stronger, the trauma placed on your muscles, joints and tendons becomes greater and you increase damage. As someone gets further and further into their training, the micro and macrotrauma builds up. Lately, I have been having nagging issues with my shoulder, lower back and my knees (my knees had pervious issues due to old football injuries). I had been pounding it nearly daily (5-6 days per week) for months and I was getting worn down. My strength was actually staying the same or regressing even though my lean mass was increasing. It was odd. While I was still initiating enough overload and eating enough food for a hypertrophic response, I was not all there. It was time for a break.
There are many different theories on time off for muscle recovery. One of my old business allies, Bryan Haycock, formulated HST (Hypertrophy Specific Training). It was a full body training system. In its principles, you MUST take 9-12 days off to “strategically decondition”. This is where you actually regress, but his theory was that between days 9 and 12, you decondition somewhat, but just enough to make “beginner-like” gains while not losing too much. This is one way to do it.
In the programs I have written, I have always recommended an off week of just low intensity cardio (if anything) every 8-16 weeks. While this is not enough t0 strategically decondition, it is certainly enough to recover a bit, heal some nagging microtraumas, and get that zeal for the gym back. A lot of it is mental, but to say that some down time won’t help prevent overuse injuries is a lie. Even though I preach this, I do not always practice this. When I take time off, I feel like I will regress and not have sick gains. But it is the opposite. Not allowing adequate recovery will be more detrimental than anything. It only took me 15 years of telling others to do this to figure out that it applies to me as well.
With that said, I feel that most people are undertrained and lack consistency in their training and diet. This makes it so they take 4 steps forward, and 4-7 steps back. People take months off and lose focus. Then you have the guy who unless he is on a cycle of prohormones or steroids will not even train or eat adequately. These are the guys that get subpar results and endanger their heath with the equivalent of chemical yo-yo dieting.
Then there are people who go to the gym and go through the motions. This is not causing enough overload for optimal results. If you want results, you need to train hard. Look at the best bodybuilders of all time; Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Doug Miller, Kurt Weidner….natural or IFBB they all have one thing in common—hardcore training!
This past weekend, I did something I never do….I took 4 days off of the gym. My family and I went to the mountains with Chad (TigerFitness.com CEO) and his family. We had fun, didn’t worry about hitting the gym, and when I came home I was ready to crush the gym…and this is the workout that transpired….
The results of time off–INTENSITY!
So what did we learn here? Time off is necessary to continue to train insane and make mindblowing gains. Whether you take four days off every now and then, a week off after every 8-12 week phase in your training or simply a 3-4 day weekend here and there for muscle recovery, it will benefit you, not hurt you. So do yourself a favor and have a little rest and relaxation once in a while. Your gains will thank you!
Some Help With Recovery–MTS Nutrition Machine Whey!