T Nation

Are Rest Days Necessary?


#1

I have not taken a rest day in almost a year now. I don't mean i have active rest days, I mean I lift weights every day. I have a question that goes out to anyone who has gone without a rest day for over 10 days: are they necessary? Are rest days something that you are only adapted to, or have you noticed they make a big difference for you?

Are rest days the same as training frequency, in that your body responds to the lack of rest by adapting, and not necessarily needing a rest day? Or am I really missing out on some gains?


#2

what's your intensity like in the gym? how is your progress?


#3

My intensity in the gym varies, I do not take stimulants before workouts so i allow myself to auto-regulate intensity. I generally maintain a solid intensity throughout my programs. Progress wise I have yet to see because I was cutting for the first 6 months, since then I have been maintaining for summer/ consuming too few calories for growth. I am just now starting to increase the calories so I will see how growth is.


#4

if you aren't needing rest days then you then you have the intensity of a sloth


#5

I think that while rest days definitely have a place in any intelligent approach to training, how often, when, whether active rest or just chillin' etc is all a matter of the individual, their training approach, and even more importantly IMO their individual recovery abilities (combination of genetics and controled variables like sleep, diet etc).

When my diet was more on point, I didn't need them as often, BUT, I still always felt like I benefitted somewhat when I took an extra day off on ocassion. Maybe not physically, but mentally, you can get worn down over time.

S


#6

For excellent/optimal progress, yes


#7

You have gone more than 6 months without progress, and you think your plan is working?


#8

plan for what?


#9

Yes, anyone that says otherwise is a Muppet .


#10

if it works for you who cares each to their own i rest on gear and with out gear it normally takes 3-5 days just get rid of doms especially after a leg work out on gear i just train a different muscle group each day being carefull not too use the muscle trained previosly even as a secondary muscle its a question u need to be asking youself really id have a rest for a few days every couple of weeks for sure if on cycle off cycle ur not training hard enough if you can train liek that and not come to a halt


#11

I don't understand what you are talking about. I don't think you do either.

How was the cut? Did you preserve muscle while getting leaner? Are you stronger or weaker? How are you gauging "progress". How do you define intensity?


#12

I train almost every day - have done for years and I make continuous and good progress. People are always telling me I train too frequently, but results prove otherwise.

If it's working for you then don't listen to anyone else as we're all different. A lot I think depends how much stress you have in your life. I think some people just recover more quickly due to genetics too. I'm in my fifties so recovery should be slowing but that's just not happening - perhaps the opposite.

I know a few fifty somethings (including bodybuilders) that say they do much better if they train every day (at high intensity) now they're getting older. My theory is that it has something to do with keeping high levels of growth hormone pumping through your body.

A typical week for me might be:

Saturday: Cleans; Squats; Deadlifts; Pullups (pyramid); 10 minute Kettlebell metcon; 20 minutes bag work (continuous kicks)
Sunday: 60 minute easy run
Monday: Pullups (explosive), Handstand Pushups, Ring Pushups, Ring Dips, Ring Handstands, 20 minute hard spin session.
Tuesday: 40 minute hard, hilly run
Wednesday: Pullups (weighted), front & back lever practice, flags, shoulder mounts, dragon flags, pullup burpees (most in 10 mins)
Thursday: Hill Sprints
Friday: Hill Climb (so 5 hours or so out in the hills walking with a heavy backpack).

As you can see I have plenty of variety. Not hammering the same muscles and energy systems day in and day out. Although there have been times when I've done strength training every day and that was fine too once I got accustomed to the program.

I personally think recovery rate is like all else with training - you can train your body to recover more quickly. My husband can't train every day though. He needs at least two days off a week. So a lot comes down to genetics I think.


#13

Is your goal primarily hypertrophy? This was posted in BSL so I'm not sure if you have athletic performance in mind.

Also, you said you've made no progress. So that should tell you your plan isn't working. And don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think you're sophisticated enough to fully take advantage of auto-regulation.

I'm sure there's exceptions (aren't there always?) but the most successful bb'ers take rest days.

Having said that, I agree some people just recover faster than others.
And some people have to train themselves to be physically capable at high levels on any given day. Elite soldiers and smoke jumpers come to mind.

My goal isn't just bb'ing. So I'm active on a daily basis. But I have to be smart about it.

This topic reminds me of a 'push ups every day' thread a few weeks back in another subforum. My Coach (close to 40 years old at 190-195) does it and I'm seeing benefits from it. But he and I don't have any injuries in equation and never come close to failure. In fact, the way it's programmed, the sessions are brief and feel almost trivial. My shoulder health has improved and mmc in chest work has increased.

The knuckleheads who were against the idea in the thread are either broken down (from lousy programming), fat, or both. There was another guy who sounds like he tried to match or surpass PRs in the push ups every damn day, and you wonder why he messed himself up. So anyone can ruin a workable concept.

TLDR:

If your goal is bb'ing and your intensity is high, you need rest days.

If your goal is overall fitness, you don't necessarily need to rest as often as some would say but you have to be smart in your approach. And I agree that you can train your body to recover faster; but this has a limit defined probably by genetics.

Sometimes it's nice to just be a couch potato (as long as you've earned it).


#14

You mention your awesome perpetual progress frequently. Perhaps you are a Unicorn. There are no photos or videos in your hub, no stats listed. I am curious.......how tall, what do you weigh, what is your age? athletic background? Surely you could post some pics. You sound deserving of a 'How do you train' thread.


#15

Erm.

What? Who told you that you can't get stronger while cutting?


#16

Would love to see the proof of the infinite progress. No need to train more than 3 years since you'll surpass everyone at that rate

I had the thought that training everyday is possible and progress will happen. Well got a gf and started missing some sessions. Guess what I progressed much better than I had in 4 months than I had in 2 years. I hadn't regressed but progress obv slower than it could of been if I had taken some rest days. Rest days don't mean Lay on your ass. And ppl calling a jog or walk training days I guess our definition of training days are diff as well


#17

Agreed. In my opinion if you include "walking" as part of your training, then you are an out of shape mofo. I generally get about 5-10 man powered miles every day, but just consider that part of life. Some days, even on rest days, that total is far greater. But as to my "training", I train lifting 3 days per week, and train rock climbing (or go climbing) 4 days per week, but always have about one day per week where I do neither. But it is very rare where I don't walk or bike a few miles per day (just for transportation).


#18

I'll put some info and pictures in my hub later today. Don't want to take this thread off-topic.

But to put your mind at rest - I'm female and 51, so relax - I don't think I've got a bigger dick than you :wink:

Happy to share how I train though - I do get good results, and in many respects go against convention and popular wisdom. For example, one of my strengths is pullups. 670 in a single session - not bad for a 51 year old woman that was told a couple of years ago that active life was over and that she should move stuff about at home to avoid the need to reach overhead due to shoulder impingement.


#19

Maybe I caught you in a menopause moment; however your defensive posture is unnecessary. No serious lifter is interested in the size of your dick. Some clarity is all I'm looking for; is your current condition due to your genetics alone.....in which case you are a Unicorn and represent a sliver of the population; or is it due to years of commited training.

If it's genetics then your advise is relative only to other Unicorns and should include that disclaimer; if not you are deserving of respect. Still no mention of your height and weight? Have you had children? Athletic background? Consider that this is the Bigger, Stronger, Leaner section; not the Conditioning section and your advise should be directed toward that ends.


#20

No you don't need rest days. You've obviously adapted to high frequency training that is sustainable at your level of volume and intensity. Lots of weightlifters train more or less like that. You can lift weights every day with plenty of intensity and be fine, you just won't be able to go full on muscle rape like a bodybuilder might, but it's just a different style of training.

If you up the frequency you can drop the intensity and volume slightly to balance it; if you drop the frequency you can jack up the intensity and/or volume to scale.