T Nation

How Much Rest Do I Need?


Hi, I have read a lot about the dangers of over training and do not want to fall into this cycle. But I do enjoy going to the gym. My question is how much rest should be taken between weight sessions, and can cardio be done on those rest days (about an hour of medium high intensity)?

I am fairly new to the weight training scene, started in the new year, and I have been changing things around. I currently do two circuits, concentrating on low reps 3-5 with as much weight as I can do. I don't feel any soreness in the following days. Can I do this type of program every other day? Every third day?

Thanks for your help,


If you're brand-spanking new to exercise, you can actually get away with more training than someone more experienced. I'd say, for the first 3 months of lifting, you could "exercise" 6 days a week with no major problem. Of those 6 days, I'd probably go for weight training every other day, and cardio on the "off" days. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to mix up the sets/rep you're using on one of the workouts.

However, after about that 3rd month, you'll want to switch the routine somewhat, and scale back the total weekly training time a bit.

Semi-related note: It's something of a hot topic, but muscle soreness isn't necessarily needed to have had a good, productive workout. So, just because you're not feeling sore afterwards, don't interpret that to mean you're doing anything "wrong".


The thing that will decide how often you can train is VOLUME. You can workout 7 days a week if you plan and execute it properly. For some workouts you may need as much as 48 hours between workouts. For some workouts you may need 3-5 days between bodyparts. It all depends on volume.

Also, for most beginners, I don't feel the 3-5 rep range is optimal. I would rather see most in the 5-12 range, with occasional lower days. But I find that range less than optimal for a consistant basis for most beginners.


Heck look at oly lifters! Don't they lift 2x+ daily? For very long periods of time too I believe.(I guess some of what they do is plyometrics of course and tons of form work) Probably don't do too much else though, I'd expect they sleep a ton.


When you start having trouble sleeping, losing 10-15 pounds on lifts and not getting it back, loss of appetite, that is when I was told I was overtraining. I only got like that when I was very naive (Still a 3x10 monkey) and doing 3 sets of 3 excercises in a circuit, 10 reps for each excercise and going to failure on the last rep of the last set of every excecise. I was doing this 5-6 days a week, usually getting it all in during 45 minutes of lifting time during my gym class and finishing what I didn't, plus some extra, after school. I knew nothing about nutrition, and wasn't getting even close to enough protein, as well as getting less than 8hrs a night.
I would be willing to bet, from what I have read here and elsewhere, that if you eat enough red meat and other good stuff, as well as getting 10 hrs a night, you can train as much as you want, as often as you want.
By enough I mean a shitload. In the book "2 years before the mast" the author talks about the heavy labor they did all day every day for months on the california coast in the hide trade, but the crew would down a whole cow basically every day, and they never felt better. How's that for G-flux?