T Nation

Recovery Question

How important is it to do NOTHING on your days off from working out. i used to workout everyday before i knew better. now i finally adjusted my program so that i have 2 days off per week, but during theses “off” days would it be allright to do stuff such as forearms and calves?

It actually aids recovery if you do light sets of 15-20 on the bodyparts you trained the day before, or have DOMS in. Don’t go to failure, just get the blood pumping.
3-4 days of heavy lifting per week is the maximum IMO, with 2 days max in a row before taking days off. A recovery week every 8-12 weeks helps tremendously, too.

If by having 2 days off per week that means you’re working out 5 days per week, I would tend to think you’re doing too much. Unless you live and breathe training and/or are using anabolic steroids, you’ll most likely make better progress training only 4 times a week.
As for your off days, you should DEFINITELY do some work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean weight lifting. Do this if for nothing else to keep you in the routine of exercising every day. What I suggest for most people on two of their off days is to do some light aerobic training for 20 minutes, followed by an intense, full body stretching session, lasting up to 45 minutes in duration. This will go a long way in aiding recovery and keeping you free from injury.

I susspose you could add forearms to one of your off days but I reccomend you dont do anything. Rest and recovery is a very over looked factor in making substanicial gains.

Nik, interesting question. Just a week ago I began an experiment, whereby I’m using my two days off each week to do nothing! No cardio, no stretching, nada. In fact, two days ago I slept for nearly an hour in my car over my lunch hour (when I normally do cardio and stretch, my weight workouts are after work).

The theory here is that your CNS (central nervous system) needs the recovery and rest as much or even more than your muscles do, and by giving it an entire day of rest you’ll have more bang for the buck in your other workouts, both weight and cardio.

So now my cardio workouts take place the same day as my weight workouts, and it's too early to tell much, but so far I'm quite energized for both.


I’ve been training for eight years, and the best gains have come in the past three, when I’ve worked out only 3 days a week. I’d say if you are training 5 days a week or more, you cannot be training with intensity. I know after my chest workout, it is sore for 4 to 5 days afterwards. And keep in mind, this is 5 days of soreness for someone who is very experienced.

Many of my fellow lifters are guys who compete in shows and use AS, and they sometimes train even less. But they are the deifinition of intensity in the gym. Remember, you grow outside the gym. Sleep and food are the most important factors. I’d suggest trying something like a 3 or 4 day a week schedule, and using lifts like squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, bench presses, and military presses as your main lifts. Give it a try for two months. You’ll be amazed.

According to most experts such as King, Poliquin, Bumpa etc . . . 5 days a week is too much. 3-4 is better. The same experts say the biggest promblem for 99 percent of the population is overtraining. Of course we all think were the invicible 1 percent, but there is a 99/100 chance that is not the case.Incorporate the forearms into one of those days.

This may not apply to you, but usually I have found that people who train more than 4 days a week are doing so more for emotional reasons rather than physical.

Whenever a friend tells me he is training more than 4 days a week, I try to explain this in a subtle manner. Usually they don't listen. I often say, well as long as your making gains, then I guess your'e doing the right thing.

Usually, they aren’t making gains though.
Or they say they are, but they sure don’t look like they have.

What you can do is experiment working out 3 days or 4 days or 5 days a week. Do each for 3-6 weeks and compare results.