T Nation

Rest Weeks, How Often?

how often should beginners change there program and take rest weeks off?

Assuming that begginers are on a proper beginner program (no special/intensity techniques, not too much volume/intensity, etc.), rest weeks are not needed. They don’t adapt to programs as fast as other lifters so change of programs isn’t necessary either. Leave the rest weeks to more advanced lifters with more advanced programs.

[quote]2274 wrote:
Assuming that begginers are on a proper beginner program (no special/intensity techniques, not too much volume/intensity, etc.), rest weeks are not needed. They don’t adapt to programs as fast as other lifters so change of programs isn’t necessary either. Leave the rest weeks to more advanced lifters with more advanced programs.[/quote]

I agree with this, but it needs more clarification.

How often to take rest weeks, or change programs, is an individual matter. We all have different recovery abilities, we progress at different rates, we all live different lives and deal with differing levels of stress at different points in those lives.

In other words, no one is going to be able to accurately tell you exactly how often you will need rest/back off weeks. No one is going to be able to tell you exactly how often you should change things up (whether it be a single exercise or the entire program).

What you should concern yourself with is learning to listen to your body. There will be certain physical and mental symptoms that you will exhibit when you are beginning to enter into over-training/over-reaching. There are a list of possible symptoms and different people will notice specific symptoms at different levels of systemic fatigue.

The truth is that you are probably going to wind up over-training yourself at some point in your lifting career (if you are pushing things like you should be). If you learn from this experience and use it to gauge when it’s time to take a break then it will wind up being a beneficial thing. If you don’t pay attention and just continue to blindly train yourself into oblivion, then it won’t be.

I personally notice mental symptoms first, specifically lack of motivation to train. Some others might notice chronic fatigue first, or depressed immune function, or any of the other symptoms that are associated with over-training.

As far as changing up programs/exercises, my advice is to keep everything that is working the same and only change things when they stop producing results. Once again, this could be a matter of weeks, months, years or could be never. Don’t change a program that is working simply because an arbitrary amount of time has passed though.