T Nation

How Long to Train Before Taking a Rest Week?

Hi Christian my name is Chris darling. I have been using your 6 day per week workout for natural bodybuilders for a while now. How long should you lift before you take a rest week off? I don’t want to overtrain or my work be detrimental to any gains I have made . Thanks Chris

I don’t believe there’s enough here for CT to reply with anything concrete. Your neurotype, nutrition, etc, along with other factors, (job, life stressors, sleep quality/quantity, age among others) will influence your recovery ability.

I don’t know about your ability to recover or anything, but when you will need a week off, you will know it ! listen to your body.

I think that everybody is different and it’s not everybody that need a week off. For me i take 1 week off every 3/4 months and i REALLY appreciate it, i comeback stronger, fresher and recovery is better for the next months

The biggest thing here, especially for those who love training and have been doing it for years/decades is (my thought here) densitization at the muscular/epigenetic level.

Basically stimulus less effective. More poundages & volume strains the system without increasing physiological gains.

Some call this aging but I think if you look at folks who come back from 2 weeks or even month (s) from training…their body reignites gains. Catchup or new gains??

Not sure. But for someone like that haven’t really taken a rest week (in a decade), I’m finding my body to be less responsive to training (muscles flatter, overall skin tone down, less vasculalirty & muscle). Am only 30 btw

Maybe i should take a week or month off. But mental/body never felt like it. my performance/strength good (increasing) but physique just simply not as responsive

man i took a week off, when i came back from it the pump WAS CRAZY ! i was doing heavy sets and it felt like i did ton of volume

I personally did 16 days straight on BDW twice, and only stopped there because ‘life’ got in the way!

I have never felt as though I’ve benefitted from extended rest periods, e.g. from vacations, etc. I guess it depends on recovery and how much you deliberately overreach prior to the break. It’s on my bucket list to do a Poliquin-style 2 or 3 a day routine for a week or so before an extended vacation!

Thank you everyone for your replies. I guess I should have put more information than I did. I am 43 years old and have been working out off and on for over 20 years. I have had a lot of health issues since my twenties . I’ve had many surgeries so during that time I obviously was not working out but as soon as I could I was back at it . I was able to go consistently for about 5 years between 1 surgery in the other . but altogether I’ve been working out since I was about 18 . I’ve always done 4 day split workout. Chest triceps on Monday, back biceps on Tuesday, off Wednesday, shoulders Thursday, legs Friday, take the weekend off. My sets usually 12 to 15 on the large muscles and exercise that took multi joints like chest or back. On bicep triceps usually 8 to 10 sets on everything I kept the rep range around 8 up to 12. I would usually work forearms twice a week and calves and abs twice a week ant traps on shoulder day . My weight stays around 185 to 192 something like that. I would like to get up to around 205 to 210. I started this workout from Christian probably about 6 months ago. I seem to have lost a little bit of weight and have gotten harder and more definition. I really like the workout I seem to be sore all the time. The only thing I was wondering it seems like my joints are really staying sore like my shoulders elbows wrists. That’s why I was wondering maybe how often I should take off from this type of workout being it was more frequent? When I was doing the 4-day split always I would usually take off about every 12 weeks sometimes 10. But I didn’t know if I needed to take off more often because of the frequency? Maybe this will help. I Hope Christian can respond now with this other information? If you need to know anything else please ask? Thank you Chris

@chris_darling
One thing you should know is CT has limited time to wade through a lot of (usually useless) information. The more direct you are, the better. A wall of text does not work.

Thank you believer423. I mean you took the time to read my post, what is your opinion? How old are you, what kind of workout do you do, are you natural or enhanced? What kind of workout is the best for me at my age it would give me the maximum results? I’m totally natural but like I said I’ve done this a long time, but not this six day less volume or frequency workout that CT put on testosterone nation. just no quality trainers around here, I’ve always worked out with my own gym at home. Just need a little help that’s all . Thanks Chris

I’m 45, and have been going at it for quite some time. I think it’s less important to take time off (I’ve worked out at least 5 days a week for many, many years), then it is to completely change your focus/workouts/goals for a while. If you’ve been focusing on big barbell lifts, change it up and focus on getting good at muscle ups or one arm push ups. Sign up for a race, and train towards beating your time at that. The longer you stay with one thing, especially as you get older, the more diminishing the returns. What you’ll find, though, is that you will quickly get right back to where you left off when you return back to the original activity.

I went essentially a year doing only progressive calisthenics and barbell pulls (high pulls, deadlifts, snatches). When I went back to bench press, I quickly out did my previous bests even in my 40’s.

I’d caution against bulking up at your age. Unless you’re doing it for a competition of some sort, your quality of life and age-related issues will improve if you keep your body mass down. Being a solid ~190 lbs is good for any age, and when you move into your mid 40’s it’s hard for me to see a reason to purposely add more mass to that.

Thanks antiquity. I’ve been doing that 6 day a week -best them workout for naties- that Christian put out . Is 6 days like that is good for my age or should work less days?

I don’t think frequency matters with age too much, probably more so with personality type. My favorite way to train is 2 taxing days a week (heavy barbell lifting) and 1-2 lighter days like calisthenics. This way, I’m fresh and motivated for the big lifts, and I don’t sweat when (or even if) I get the other days in. I am drawn to 531 and Dan John workouts, myself. I know others prefer the daily workouts, and CT has done some pretty impressive work to relate this to neurotypes. His stuff really hit the nail on the head and illuminated why I thrived or struggled on certain routines I have tried in the past.

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Honestly, unless you do something completelt stupid training-wise there will never be a reason to take a full week off from training. You might need to reduce volume, intensity or frequency, maybe even take 2-3 days off or do neural charge sessions. But a full week off is pretty much never a good diea.

As for a week of taking it "easier"it depends on you, on your lifestyle, stress level, etc. When you start to see a decrease in motivation and energy you could cut back on either frequency (doing the program 4 days a week) or the intensity (stop each set 1-2 reps short of failure).

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Thank you very much Christian, I appreciate Your response. So you feel I should try the four day per week best damn… , just feel like I’ve lost a little bit in size and some joint pain? Been doing the Six-Day program since about July I believe. Thank you Chris
I really like the program. I’ve always done 4 day split with high volume for many years. At 43 years old and no pharmaceutical help, I would have done it long ago. Just have always worked out myself, and usually at home, no knowledgeable trainer?

oh and Christian, congratulations on the baby man!! Both of mine are now 18 and 15. I wish I could go back to those years, time flys man. Chris

There’s no thing as “deconditioning” like 3 weeks or 4 weeks? Then muscles “respond” like a newbie or perhaps not?

Suspecting no…

There is such a thing as “deconditioning” . It’s more a matter of lost muscle being regained much faster, this giving the illusion of faster growth.

If you stop training for,let’s say 6 weeks and you lose 5lbs of muscle and 20% of strength. When you get back to the gym you will regain that in 3 weeks which is like 4-6x the speed it would normally take you… giving you the illusiton of beginner gains.

The average male can add 30-40lbs of muscle over his “normal adult weight”. My NAW would have been around 180lbs (if I go with the weight of my older brother who has a similar structure) so my muscular limit is around 220. Which coincides with my “normal muscular weight” over the years: 215-218 lbs. I did get heavier at one point (228 in muscular condition" but with a little help.

The closer you get to your limit, the slower your gains will be. So if you lose 10lbs of muscle you become “further away” from your limit, thus making it easier to gain muscle quickly.

There is ONE thing though that shows the potential benefits of deconditioning: it has been show that a period of detraining increases the proportion of high threshold motor units, which can help with rapid strength gains (and size gains to some extent) BUT as soon as you start training again, they begin to convert to intermediate fibers.

There could be a benefit for purely speed and power athletes IF they stick to super fast twitch work (1-3 reps, very heavy, very explosive,plyo,sprints, etc.) 3x a week when getting back to hard training. This might allow them to maintain the higher ratio of HTMU.

I’m working with a former member of the national track cycling team who wants to convert to bobsleigh. When cycling he did very little lifting work and lost muscle. In 4 weeks of getting back to heavy lifting his strength and speed exploded (he ran a 3.71 /30m, squatted 495 for 7 cluster reps, power cleaned 315 for 6 cluster reps, squatted 2 reps with 465lbs with an 8 sec hold at parallel at a bodyweight of 180lbs).

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Thank you

Very interesting. SO the “accelerated gains” following de-training only gets you up to your prior best. NOT past.

So it’s muscle memory, but not muscle “priming” for better gains (like haycockcs HST theory & some other coaches talk about this).

I have this nagging feeling that doing high threshold intense work (like layers/clusters) over long periods of time actually cause some kind of muscle degradation. Whereby you don’t respond to anything else. Bascially muscular footprint set to be highly resistant to growth

Like the last 5 years if I ever deviate formthis sort of training I lose size & muscle shape/look. Maybe lifestyle don’t know

Haycock’s strategic deconditioning makes sense theoretically speaking. But personally I do not believe that in reality it leads to a faster gaining rate. You won’t even get a FT fibers overshoot because you are still doing some training.

I don’t like the term “muscle memory”. Rather it is plasticity of the muscular adaptations.

Without going into too many details some of the adaptations from training remains (the size of the sarcoplasmic domain for example) which facilitates growth, but only until previous size is achieved.