Posted 2 weeks ago

When should you take rest days?

Do you train on different days per week and find that your performance during sessions is sometimes poor? Are you strategically having rest days before or after certain sessions?

Unfortunately, not everyone will have the luxury of training at the same time, or the flexibility of assigning specific workouts to a given day due to work/child commitments. However, for those who can, having set days off can massively improve their progress and physique.

To start off with, your training program should be personal to you, and should focus on bringing up your weak body parts and areas you’d like to add muscle to. Having a structured program whereby you train specific body part of specific days should be standard practice in this instance. Most advanced gym-goers will train between 4-5 days a week.

Once you have established your program design, or “training split”, my first strategy for selecting a day off would be to look at the sessions which are the toughest and require the most amount of energy demand i.e. lower body days. Not only will taking a rest day before these sessions ensure that intensity for the entire session is high, but it will also guarantee you go in fresh, and feel able to recover after too.

My second strategy would be to apply the same rationale and put in a rest day prior to a training day which focuses on your lagging body parts. For example, we know that females can generally train legs up to three times a week; generally, with one of these sessions will be quad focus and the other two will be glute/hamstring focused.

If the goal is to bring up the glutes – develop them more – it would then make sense to have a complete rest day before these sessions, or at least have a less intense session the day before, such as a push day. In that way, you are going into each session as ‘fresh’ as you can, allowing you to train at your highest possible intensity.

Lastly, we also need to look at your ability to recover. Irrespective of rest days, people’s ability to recover is personal, and that will dictate the total amount of sets and exercises they perform across the week. More isn’t always better, and we will always advocate you perform the minimal effective dose for progress in your physique and log-book. Once you have looked at your total training volume, and how much your body can tolerate, you can then start to think about how many sessions you can perform back to back.

There are very few male bodybuilders (who are very strong) that will get away with training more than three days in a row; most will need to rest after two sessions, or even take a day off after their lower body sessions because their body is so beat up. In that instance, the same process applies: we place the rest day when it is need to ensure it doesn’t affect the sessions that follow.

In summary, if you are able to train at similar times each week it would be wise to plan your rest days according to your highest training demand sessions, weak body parts/area you’d like to add muscle to, and your recovery capabilities.

If you want to know more about rest days and how to better structure your training, drop me an email today.