In order to maximize muscle gains you need to take a well-deserved break every now and then.
Specifically I’m talking about talking a full week away from working out altogether.
This principle literally means that you do less and gain more! This isn’t wishful thinking, there are very good reasons as to why you need to rest your body completely once in a while.
Muscle Recovery – S.T.O.P.
I call it the Strategic Time-Out Period, or STOP. Let’s have a closer look…
The Psychological Effect
This should be self-explanatory. Sometimes you just feel like you need some time off. The mental benefit of knowing that there’s a week-long break coming up will help you stay focused and enthusiastic for each training cycle.
After your week off, you’ll be as excited as a noob about hitting the iron!
The Physical Benefit
Putting your feet up for a week may seem like a bad idea, but over the course of a few months you will experience more growth because of it.
After one complete training cycle your results may start to slow down. You won’t stop progressive overload totally, but the rate at which you are increasing weight and/or reps will probably be slowing down.
So, you want to know how often to take a week off from weight lifting? Once every 8 to 12 weeks is best.
Now check this out…
7 days is not enough for your muscles to atrophy i.e. at the end of your week off, you’ll still be the same size.
However, your body will be primed to respond to new stimulus all over again. It’s like you take a week off and your body says,
“Thank God! The maniac has stopped! Let’s just repair everything here and get back to normal. Ah serenity”
And just when it least expects it, BLAM! You’re back and the body is forced into adaptation mode all over again.
We all know that beginners get the best gains. Using the same principle that allows them to make such rapid gains is what you’ll be using here for new growth.
As far as strength goes, you’ll respond in 1 of 3 ways when you get back at it:
- You’ll be stronger
- You’ll retain your strength
- You’ll be weaker
Everyone responds differently but it actually doesn’t matter.
Ok, becoming stronger or retaining your current level of strength is fine. But so is getting a little weaker.
Getting weaker is due to ‘Deconditioning.’ Deconditioning simply means a loss of fitness due to a cessation in training. In this case it’s deliberate deconditioning as you are intentionally preparing your muscles for a new phase of adaptation. Remember that even if you become weaker, you’ll remain the same size while ensuring that subsequent workouts ignite new growth!
But doesn’t this go against progressive overload, the law of muscle growth?
Muscle responds not only to the ABSOLUTE load i.e. weights and reps increasing over time, but also to what I call the RELATIVE load. Relative, that is, to their current condition. This week off may (or may not) result in fewer reps, but as far as your muscles are concerned, there’s a new stimulus in town, a change in the environment to which they will HAVE to respond.
So, although it’s possible that you’ll take a slight dip in workout performance, the line on the graph of muscle growth will keep shooting upwards!
Hope that clears that subject up for you. Remember – S.T.O.P. – it’s very important.
I will be going into this and a lot more when I release the next incarnation of ‘Total Anabolism.’ It will be a much bigger, MUCH more in-depth book on training and nutrition. I just need a little more free time to sit down and get it done for you guys. It will, of course, be ABSOLUTELY free. I’ll let you all know when it’s ready for download!