T Nation

Rest Between Full Body Workouts

Here’s a question I would like to throw out and get various perspectives and personal anecdotes on.

I train full body because I think the body is one piece and I train mainly for function (so I do metabolic, gymnastic and strength oriented activities).

My question is: is it important to be fully rested between each session?

My goal was to do 1 on: 1 off. However, taking 2 days off allowd me to alleviate the soreness completely and does lead to better performance. If I had to perform maximally I would take 2 days off and not 1.

I know there’s a difference between building strength and demonstrating it. Obviously doing more workouts would allow for a far great volume of work over time.

Then there’s also the issue of diminishing returns.

So what do you guys think: recover 100% or recover 80% and get more work done?

Well I personally do a three day split giving one off on on three day then have two day of once a week.

Ex. on, off, on, off, on, off, off

It is not bad top lift when a little sore as long as it is not down right PAINFULL to move. You will adjust and your work capacity will go up. Then the two days once a week allow greater recovery.

Just my opinion seesm to help me and not get run down before I have the two days.

I suggest one of the 2 days has NO training at all. just regular activity. Complete rest from training to allow yourself to rest.

Hope that helps,

It really depends, You can get by with either two or three times a week. It all depends on how you feel. I wouldn’t use soreness as an excuse to stay out of the gym, but instead would check for symptoms of CNS fatigue like extreme sluggishness etc…

Thanks for the replies, guys. I do metabolic workouts as well (like tabata squats) which is why training sore really seems to impact performance moreso than with pure strength training where it’s not as big a factor (I rotate movements as well).

Hey Zulu. I do a modified HIT program MWF, but when I feel extra tired or my CNS is shot then I will workout Monday and Friday or Monday and Wednesday and then do some cardio on the weekend. I find that if you listen to your body you can make some awesome progress. That being said. Keep up the intensity and your body will let you know when to rest. The only thing you need to do is listen to it.

Take it easy…

p.s. I used to workout four days a week, and I do not think I am more intense than anyone, but after about 4-6 weeks I was really feeling sluggish and so I think one’s ability to recover obviously varies among people. For me I go super hard, but I also rest when needed. Peace.

Yes I wouldn’t use soreness as a gauge. I used to and it’s a big mistake. Results are what counts. If you have better performance with 2 full days rest, then do that. Many times I find I’m still sore from a previous workout yet I’m stronger in the gym. That’s what’s important.

Well, you asked for personal anecdotes. Using what I consider to be a modified total body workout, I have made the most gains in mass and strength-from 183 with a 345 squat and 275 bench (after about a decade of training) to 214 with a 465 squat and 360 bench in 3 1/2 years.

Basically, I would go into the (basement, garage, sometimes weight room and the High school where I work) every day, with only maybe a day off every 2 weeks on average. In the first workout of the week, I would first ask myself if I felt like I could squat. If I hadn’t squatted in the last 2 days, I would start with 5-6 sets of 3-5 squats (starting count when I hit a work weight and usually sticking with it for all sets, sometimes adding 10 pounds a set until I couldn’t get a triple). Then I’d do chins or rows-same protocol. The next day, I’d do the same thing for say Benches, and maybe clean pulls. Then Day 3, maybe shoulder presses and heavy leg raises, or possibly start over with squats, or a variation like Zerchers. Then say dips and chins or rows. I’d basically just rotate around hitting the basics (squat, deads, bench, row, chins, dips, shoulder press, clean pulls, hanging leg raises, JM presses, shrugs) usually benching or squatting 2x in a sequence and working around the body different ways 3x a week with 5-6 sets of 3-5. I never really got muscularly sore like I had training a bodypart once every week, unless I added in an exercise I hadn’t done in a while. Now I would occasionally get sore from overuse in an area (wrists, triceps, shoulder, lower back, neck) and leave out a couple particular lifts for a week or two, but even though I never got muscularly sore, I would usually go in and be able to tell which precise 2 or 3 exercises I could probably work.

All in all, I overtrained. Probably would have been better taking 2 days off a week, but the basic principle is what worked for me.

I train 4-5 days a week using basically the same core movements and low sets per excercise - full body workouts.

After about 15 sets using mainly a strength (5-6 reps - 1 rep short of failure) protocol, I’m done.

No program has ever worked better for me in terms of size and strength.

I would imagine that if you were using weight training mainly for physical conditioning, then training when sore wouldn’t be a bad thing. For strength training, I like the “training as often as possible while as fresh as possible” paradigm. That means don’t overdo it in any one session.

It’s probably time for me to get on one of those “bodyfat reduction” circuits, but I hate them with a passion.

Good stuff guys, thanks a lot.

I reckon it is possible to train almost every day of the week, given enough rest and excellent diet.

I have a fairly sedentary job, and tring 5/6 days a week, diiferent sessions, admitedly (weights/metabolic training etc).

Its not like my physiology is taxed the rest of the time, and as such i have seen some steady gains (only been on it 1 month though, but having a good back off week seems to maintain enough rest overall for me.)

I’ve been training one day on/ one day off. I find that works fine for recovery. One question I do have though, is do any of you guys mix up the type of movement and scheme? For example, Waterbury has written about doing horizontal and then vertical movements on different days, or low-rep/ heavy weigh and high-rep lower-weigh on different days to avoid overtraining?

I’ve tried it in the past, but I prefer to do multiple weigh-ranges and rep-ranges in the same WO? is there any indication this might be too much?

Really? And what is the difference?
I disagree.

As for rest - you must be genetically gifted by the hand of god to recover AND supercompensate (grow) from a workout in 1 day.

I envy you.


Demonstrating strength would involve lifting to failure. To build strength you usually stay away from failure.

so triggering growth is best achieved by NOT going to failure?

[quote]Zulu wrote:
My question is: is it important to be fully rested between each session?

Yes. If you haven’t rested enough to recover, and THEN to grow, you will reach a plateau very fast, and no matter how hard you workout, you will look the same.