T Nation

How Impoirtant Is Rest, Really?


I've been lifting pretty religiously for about 7 years now. I tend to go 5-6 days a week, and this has been the case for the majority of that 7 years. Now I have changed things from time to time, I used to weigh about 230 and went straight for the mass look, but due to lower back problems, I had to cut that weight back a lot and now weigh 210.

With all of that being said, I have spent the most of my 7 years lifting almost every single day fighting through soreness, fatigue, and even injury just to make it to the gym. The biggest reason I do this is because it makes me happy, its an hour of a half where nothing matters but putting up weight, it's great.

Recently I've started thinking what if I did a different type of weight lifting scheme, rather then go 5-6, sometimes 7 days a week, would it make that big of a difference as far as growth and size goes if i went 2 on 1 off 2 on 2 off or a scheme such as that? Let me get some feed back here.


If something is working for you then there is no reason to change it, but judging by your post if you are considering something else then maybe the results aren't what you are used to or expect, am I on the right track?

More rest days for me is important because of the nature of training I do, 1/2 body each time MWF. Trying to up that frequency any further would run me into the ground. If you split the body 3-5 ways then you will obviously need more sessions in the gym and have less days totally off. So what does your current training look like structure wish, number of exercises, sets, do you train to failure/beyond etc?


I pretty much play my sessions by ear and base them on what my body is telling me to do. I can give you an example of what I think this week will look like.

Sunday I did compound movements, front squat, DL's, DB clean and press and a little bit of back.

Monday I did all arms.

Today I will probably start off doing some back squats and then move into chest.

Tomorrow will probably incorporate back in some way.

I try to do shoulders twice a week.

I usually switch up the exercises I do for each muscle group every time I workout, along with reps and sets.

But for the most part I'm lifting sun-fri or sun-sat.


The entire reason behind training is to adapt. Be it load, volume, metabolic, etc. Everything we are doing in the gym is to get our bodies to adapt. And for the most part, changing your workout parameters is more of a stimulus for adaptation than increases in load or volume progressive fashion. There is also the CNS to consider. Continuing a high intensity program for a long period runs down your CNS. And without your CNS you cannot adequately activate the HTMU's and make progress.

In any case, it sounds like you need to make some major changes to refresh your program. I would suggest reading Chris S last article. It should give you some great ideas for changing up your program.



coming from someone who just woke up from a nap, yes rest is very important.


i edited your post a bit as above. have you gained raw overall strength in the last couple of years (or become stronger in certain movements, or more technically able to perform certain exercises) - i.e. have you improved?

Also, noting that you get a 'happy high' from exercise is a benefit for you. Would cutting back to 3-4 tight sessions a week make you unhappy even if it meant some impressive strength gains that may not come from daily 90 minute sessions?

Rest is very important if lifing near your limits, possibly best to get 2-3 clear days a week with only light exercise and reduce total sets so as to get sessions to an hour.

but not if you'll feel unhappy!


For the most part, everything has increased as far as strength goes. My bench has gone down from 405 to somewhere in the 350-370 range depending on the day. I lost a lot of mass, but gained a lot of lean muscle.

If I was able to get impressive gains from 4 sessions a week as opposed to the 5-6 sessions a week then I suppose I would do it.


you have to do what makes you happy. Personally i have made the switch to 2on/1off scheme, and have been making much better gains lately; however as I was used to 6/7 days a week i still get the itch to go in every day. If i cant resist going in i usually go in do a good warm up, and spend 45 minutes stretching, abs calves, or whatever, just nothing retarded strenuous. This has made a huge difference in recovery time and helped me break many strength plateaus. Hope it helps!


"had to cut back to 210". I hate you guys. :frowning:

Anyway, recovery is probably as specific to the individual as stimulus is. Meaning, there are probably some that get by on very little time off, can go into the gym the next day DOMS and irritated from a night of power drinking, eat some pizza and STILL get stronger and bigger. I know few people that genetically gifted but it happens.

Being a small guy it was drilled into me early to avoid "over training" and to get full and adequate recovery at all costs. So I could do whatever split was on the schedule for the day and then give it 5, 7, sometimes even 9 days before hitting that complex or muscle again.

For about the past 6 months I've been following CW's recommendation that you hit the body more frequently and manage fatigue through other areas. I've also become a proponent of full body workouts again, which seem to be working for me.

Which I guess is my point. You really don't know how you will respond by taking more time off in-between workouts like a day on, day off, or a two on-one off-two on. I would say try it for about a month and just see how you feel. If you have been over trained chronically you should notice an immediate benefit. If you get stronger (not the only factor but an easy on to spot), feel more motivated, etc then most likely you will progress.

Keep in mind that sometimes ANY (rational) change in an old way of doing things can be positive to keep you moving forward. Sometimes adding a couple of rest days can help mentally if nothing else and get you jump started.

Good luck.



There are always a couple of days each week where I just cant train. I don't go 7x a week, typically 4-5, but the rest days are always different. MY best gains came when I did the M,T,TH,F split, but as I got older I dont move as much weight, nor do I spend as much time lifting. I dont know everyone's ages on here, but I'm 34, and sometimes after working all day, running a few errands, I just realize that 'it aint gonna happen'. You know what,.. it's usually a good thing from a recovery point of view. THats probably a good take home lesson :slightly_smiling:



I'll lay odds right now if you cut back to no more than 4 days a week you'd see improvements not only in your results, but how you felt overall as well. Maybe even 3 days. If anybody ever sounded like they needed to tighten up their split and try something else you do and I am decidedly not against split training. You just sound like it's time for a new approach and some additional rest. On another note, you are eating and sleeping enough right?

The short basic answer about rest is yes, it is that important and will become even more so the older you get. Don't forget, as obvious as this is, we all need reminders sometimes, recovery/gains happen during rest, not in the gym.