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Why Resting Is Important For Building Muscle

Mar 14, 2008
Rest between sets and workouts is an important aspect of building muscle mass.

Wait enough time between sets so that you are rested enough to perform as well as you did your first heavy set. Your second set needs to be as intense as the first so that the overload to the muscle is at least the same that it was the previous set.

You need to rest enough to be able to do what you just did, preferably more. If you do a set of six reps and then right after, without enough rest, can only do a set for three reps, you have not gained anything.

The overload to the muscle has been diminished. If, after doing a set for six reps, you rest two minutes, add 5 more pounds, and proceed to do another set of six reps, the overload has been increased, and so has the likelihood new muscle will be recruited.

So it is vital that you give yourself enough rest in between sets so that way you feel as though you can handle the next set as well as you just did the previous. This could mean a different rest period for different people.

Whether it is a minute or two, you need to be recovered before starting your next set. If this were the case, why would you ever want to superset (doing exercises back to back with no rest) two exercises? Even though you may be working two opposing muscle groups such as biceps and triceps, the lack of rest between the two exercises will have a negative effect on the second exercise.

The second muscle group will be worked less intensely than the first because your muscle energy stores have been utilized during the first. This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.

Remember that more is not necessarily better. If you work a muscle group more than once in a five to seven-day span, you are running the risk of over training, or overdoing, that muscle.

A muscle must recover fully from its previous stress before it can handle additional stress. Training with sore, tired, overworked muscles is taking one step forwards, two steps back. It's going to take you a while to get where you want to be, if you even get there at all.

Training a muscle group, such as chest, biceps, or back, only once a week will allow that muscle enough time to fully recuperate and recover to handle the next workout. Since progressive overload is the key to progress, wouldn't we want our muscles well rested so that they may handle more overload next workout?

If you do chest on a Monday, you will not want to do it again until the following Monday. Allow a full seven days of rest in between training chest again.

Many exercises that you perform during the week also incorporate the muscles you are trying to rest. For example, when you do the bench press, your deltoids (shoulders) and triceps both come into play.

They are getting subjected to work even though you are not specifically targeting them. Therefore, some muscles get worked more than once a week anyways.

After two solid months of training, take at least five days off (in a row) and don't do anything "real physical" in or out of the gym

This is very important in the recovery phase of weight training. Proper weight training puts a lot of stress on the muscles and the body. You are damaging muscle fibers that need to be rebuilt and reinforced.

The weight training is just the stimulus for muscle growth. The real growth and repair of the muscle comes when you are out of the gym resting. The rest is what causes them to grow and get stronger.

Much like a battery needs to be recharged once in a while so does our bodies. We need to take a few days off after about every two months of intense training. This should be at least five days, preferably seven days.

Do absolutely nothing involving weights, aerobics, or cardio. Nothing. Zilch. Don't even go to a gym unless it is to tan, relax in the Jacuzzi, or shower. Do not do cardio.

You need this time to let your body recover and recuperate from the time you've spent training. After three days of not doing anything real physical, you will feel more energized.

Don't worry about becoming unmotivated and fearful you might stop going to the gym. The opposite is true. After five or so days of straight rest, you will be so full of energy that you will want to bust down the door to the gym to get inside. It happens. When you rest your body often, you can expect it to recover from these intense workouts better.

If you have been working out for quite some time, such as two to three months, and you don't feel the least bit fatigued on some days, I may have to question if you are working out with the utmost intensity. Intense and demanding workouts will, sooner or later, start to wear you out.

If you don't get enough rest, your body's immune system will force you to take some time off (by becoming sick) Think about what stress does to your body. Stress can make you sick. In lab research, scientists subject rats to electric shocks at various times of the day so that the rat has no idea when the next shock is coming. Talk about stress.

Guess what happens. The rat develops ulcers and dies. Although not on the same level, weight training is still a form of stress to the body. You must allow your body to recuperate fully or the residual effects of long-term weight training will shut it down.

As you can tell, the need to rest when building muscle is an important, but often overlooked part.
About the Author
Make this the year you build more muscle, lose more fat, and get the body you've always wanted. Check out Shawn Lebrun's program "Simple Steps To Get Huge And Shredded" Get Huge And Shredded"
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