Fitness is fun, it’s liberating, it makes you feel good, and it helps you build the body of your dreams in addition to leading a healthy lifestyle overall. With all of the benefits of exercise you are reaping on a daily basis, there seems to be no reason why you shouldn’t be working out every single day of the week.
And for most people, that seems like an appealing idea. However, there are inherent problems with this type of mindset that would come to life quickly should you choose to follow a seven-day training split. In order to get a workout in on a daily basis, your training intensity would have to be extremely low, in order for your nervous system to recover properly and your muscles to remain in a state of hypertrophy.
Unfortunately, this is not a viable long-term strategy, as inadequate intensity will also impact your performance and deliver subpar results. Given the fact that none of the extremes seem to work, there is a need for you to create a balance between exercise and recovery. Here is how you can simply and effectively balance your training cycles with your rest days to achieve success.
How often should you be training?
Before we tackle the question of how to train and how to actually take rest days, we first need to address the problem of training frequency. If fitness is a substantial part of your lifestyle, and you are hitting the weights hard every time you train (which you should), then training more than four to five times a week is simply not a feasible long-term strategy.
This is because of your body’s inability to follow such a rigorous tempo over a prolonged period of time. You might not feel the consequences immediately, but over a period of a few weeks, you will start to stagnate. Your will eventually plateau, and you will begin to regress in both muscle mass and overall strength.
Training six or seven times per week will drain your energy reserves no matter how much you sleep or eat. Digging deeper into CNS with every workout, the end result will be an injury or a complete CNS breakdown. However, working out too little during the week will also lead to subpar results.
Professional athletes and world record holders have followed a three to four day training split for decades. While there are exceptions out there that can make progress with higher frequency, you should follow the doctrines that have proven to bring the best results.
Turn rest days into growth days
Now for the question of rest days. Are the days you take off training solely there for you to skip the gym, or do they serve a far more important purpose in shaping you as an athlete? Many people would tell you that you need to rest in order to give your body a chance to recover. The answer is actually a little more complex than that.
Instead of thinking about your rest day as a day when you’re not allowed to step into the gym, you should think of it as the day you are actually going to grow. After putting your body through a lot of stress, you will need to pump it with nutrients in order to let it heal and become stronger.
Because your metabolism is still revving strong, your body is utilizing energy stores (calories) to feed the micro tears in your muscles and repair the damaged CNS. In order to keep milking the gains from your last workout, you need to supply enough energy to your body.
Your growth days are there to make you stronger and to help you recover for the workout ahead.
How to optimize your training for longevity?
Simply training fewer than seven times a week will not guarantee you won’t suffer from fatigue and eventually plateau. If you are pushing yourself too hard, something is going to give out at some point. This can be your rotator cuff, your lumbar disk, or any other area in your body.
In order to avoid injuries and stay in the fitness game long-term, you need to optimize your training variables. These are intensity, frequency, and volume. Following the four-day split philosophy, you will need to balance intensity and volume in such a way that you continue to progress, but still give your body the resources it needs to avoid injuries.
Remember, you can train hard, and you can train long. But you can’t do both. At least not for long.
Maximizing your growth days
Now, it’s not just about eating until your pants burst and sleeping for nine hours. Growth days are all about how you maximize your post-workout potential. While you should be eating healthy, and eating plenty, you should also hydrate copiously, and recover. But to recover means to be active.
Your body is still under stress, and if you don’t do something to relieve that stress, you are going to experience severe DOMS the following day. This will cause you to feel lousy, and your workout to be potentially dangerous. So, go out for a rejuvenating walk, wear compression clothes to keep the blood flowing, get some air in your lungs. It will do wonders for your CNS.
You also need to supplement properly with healthy products such as multivitamins and minerals. Bear in mind that working out produces cortisol, a catabolic hormone popularly named the “stress” hormone. In order to maximize your growth days, you can use low doses of cannabis concentrates in order to relax and eliminate cortisol from your blood stream. Although cannabis is a powerful total-body rejuvenation tool, your system will only benefit from it if you use it mildly.
How to find your optimal routine?
Finally, every individual is unique. What works for someone else might be completely wrong for you. Or it might simply need a few tweaks in order to become perfect. So how do you go about tailoring your perfect weekly routine? Simple, you experiment, and you adjust.
Trial and error is the most effective way to figure out if something works for you. However, you need to be realistic in your expectations. Seasoned lifters will tell you that building muscle or getting strong is a long process. The truth is, it is a very long process.
You need to be patient. Just because you’re not seeing results after two weeks of training doesn’t mean that it’s not working. Run a program from beginning to end before deeming it inadequate. After several months of trial and error, you will learn what suits your body and your specific genetic potential.
Fitness is a fun, rewarding, and fulfilling journey. It can even be intoxicating to such a degree to make us want to train every single day. While you should always strive to become better and achieve more, you should also find the perfect balance between exercise and rest. Use this in-depth guide to create your perfect weekly routine, and pave the road to a lifetime of strength and happiness.