Are you killing yourself in the gym, day in and day out, and feel as if your progress has come to a halt? There are many reasons why people plateau, including improper nutrition, lack of rest or overtraining. Rest and overtraining actually go hand in hand, because skipping recovery time is usually the result of dedicated athletes-in-training who think rest is for the weak and more is always better.
Believe it or not, more is not better when it comes to proper training. For motivated, over-achieving individuals (like yourself), it can be difficult to skip a day. I’ve been there, and I know it can feel as if you’re cheating. But there’s a fine line between training hard and not being able to train at all. Overtraining can set you up for injury. Don’t risk it. Instead, follow my advice on why you should rest for the best.
Sleep it off. Your muscles fatigue just like your brain. For your body to fully recuperate, it needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Getting quality sleep is just as important as getting enough, so ditch bad habits if you can. If you work out later at night, it can be harder to relax and get to bed early. Try adjusting your schedule to exercise earlier, or at least create a wind-down routine to help you fall asleep at night.
Set a schedule. If you’re still sore from a leg workout you did a few days ago, that’s a sign those muscles haven’t finished the healing process. No matter how long it takes, wait until the soreness has passed before you hit legs again. Most people like to create a split schedule, which allows up to one week for a muscle group to recover. An example of this would be to make Monday your leg day, work shoulders on Wednesday, hit chest and triceps on Thursday and save Saturday for back and biceps. On this kind of schedule you can rest completely for two days, do cardio as many times as you’d like and give your muscles sufficient time between workouts.
For a beginner, I recommend allowing 5-6 days before working out the same muscle group to avoid overtraining. As time goes on, your body will become more conditioned and it will likely take less time for it to repair. At that point, you may notice muscle soreness doesn’t last as long as it used to, and you can get away with shorter breaks between in your split schedule. Regardless of seniority, always listen to your body.
Get fitness and sports nutrition tips from personal trainer Deniz Duygulu, an International Federation of BodyBuilders Men’s Physique pro athlete. Like Deniz onFacebook to watch videos demonstrating correct form and for advice on fueling effectively.