It is easy to believe that a dedicated workout program has no break. However, if you have done some research on strength training and muscle building, you may know that rest between muscle training workouts is an important aspect of any successful training regimen. Giving your body the time to repair and heal itself after intense training is much more important than you may realize.
If you don’t give your muscles sufficient downtime, it is possible that your progress slows down and you find it difficult to reach your goals.
Enough rest between muscle training workouts is necessary for gaining mass. However, the exact time you should rest your body depends on a number of factors. In this post, we discuss everything you need to know about resting during muscle training.
Why You Need Rest After Workouts?
You might have heard that we actually break and tear muscles, ligaments and bones when we exercise. When you undergo a strength training, the muscles experience micro-tears which are then healed by using protein to become stronger than before.
The muscles that tear send a signal that they are injured and need to be healed. Special cells responsible for regeneration and growth come into action at this time. This is how muscles increase in size and strength due to strength training.
The period after the workout is called muscle-protein synthesis where muscle growth takes place in the form of recovery. This period varies depending on the intensity of the workout and other factors.
The tougher you work, the longer is the MPS period. It is generally 24-48 hours for most people. Experienced lifters can have a shorter MPS as compared to a novice who can take longer than 48 hours.
Numerous other factors including stress, sleep, protein intake, age, gender and diet also affect MPS.
Rest is needed between workouts to rebuild the torn tissues well. When the muscles are in the recovery phase, nutrients are transported to heal them and rest ensures that they are healed stronger than they were before the activity.
This means the rest is crucial to muscle growth and strength. It is an important part of the workout process and can affect how effective the workout routine turns out to be.
How Long Should You Rest Between Muscle Training Workouts?
The exact time you rest your body between strength training workouts will depend on your routine. The recovery time for the muscles varies on the basis of how the workouts are split up.
For most people, a day’s rest after training for 5-6 days in a row works if the workout days are split to cover 1-2 muscle groups in each session.
This is because you are already giving a break to each muscle group all through the week even if you hit the gym regularly.
This rule works only for those who rotate their muscle groups in the upper and lower body throughout the week.
However, if you are somebody who just divides the training between upper and lower body, it is advisable to do both back to back and then take a day’s rest before repeating the process again. A day’s off will give all your muscle groups enough time to recover.
For high-intensity interval training and cardio workouts, the time you give to the body to rest between workouts depends on the intensity.
If you are performing full-body, intense HIIT workouts, you should rest a day after a day’s training because you work the major muscle groups in the body. However, this does not apply to other lighter cardio workouts.
Indulging in light to moderate cardiovascular activity every day during the week is not a problem because this system does not need recovery time like muscles. This means you can opt for cardio workouts on those days when you have off from other training.
As the rest needed between workouts can vary, it is a good idea to give 24-48 hours of rest to the body before training the same muscle group.
This means if you work on your upper body on Monday, you can train the lower body on Tuesday and then again the upper body on Wednesday. Moreover, low-intensity workouts can interfere with strength training as well.
A cycling session, for example, damages the leg muscles that you involve during a leg workout. So depending on how intense your workout was, you should give recovery time to the body.
Listen To The Body
The time your body needs to rest between workouts depends on workout routine and the intensity. However, you can feel when you overtrain. You can experience signs and symptoms like muscle soreness, difficulty sleeping, feeling tired and more when you are overdoing. The key is to always listen to your body.
If your workout calendar says it is time to work on the lower body and you are having difficulty walking and climbing stairs, you should give your body an extra day to heal rather than pushing anyways. If you wait one more day, you may feel stronger and more refreshed and make the most out of your regime.
Risks of Ignoring Rest Between Workouts
Workout breaks down muscles so that the body rebuilds them. Muscles grow when the protein synthesis is better than the breakdown.
Not allowing enough rest between workouts can lead to more breakdown than MPS which means you actually lose mass. Nobody would want this to happen; so it is necessary to rest properly for an effective workout program.
Training too frequently without resting can not only lead to muscle loss but also hamper your performance, reducing your gains to a great extent. Overtraining can also affect your overall health and well-being negatively.
You can experience signs of overtraining like muscle weakness, fatigue, lost appetite, depression, chronic injuries and insomnia. Any of these symptoms, if they last for a few days, indicate that you are not giving enough recovery time to your body between workouts.
In the end, only you can determine how much rest your body needs between workouts. Focus on how you feel during the exercises. If you are allowing enough recovery time, you should feel fresh and not fatigued.
If you feel any symptoms of overtraining, don’t get the strength or mass as expected or have a bad performance, you should give some more rest to the body. Moreover, pay attention to the diet, sleep and stress levels to stay healthy.