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 training 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 FULLY rest your body once in a while.

Systemic Muscle Recovery –  You Must 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. Why?

After one complete training cycle your results may start to slow down. You won’t stop progressing completely, but the rate at which you are increasing weight and/or reps will probably begin to slow.

Local recovery of a muscle after an average THT workout is pretty much complete in 36-48 hrs. SYSTEMIC recovery, on the other hand, takes longer. When you add this up over the course of a full training cycle, you get to a point where you are never going to be systemically recovered before a workout. You’ll feel tired, sluggish, de-motivated, and strength progressions may pretty much cease.

Therefore we must train in cycles. Between each training cycle we take a 1 week lay-off which ensures that we keep growing and keep getting stronger.

So, you want to know how often to take a week off from weight lifting? Once every 8 to 12 weeks is best. In THT we take a break once every 10 weeks.

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 stimuli 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.”

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. What we’re doing is using the same principle that allows them to make such rapid gains for NEW growth in every training cycle.

As far as strength goes, you’ll respond in 1 of 3 ways when you get back at it:

1. You’ll be stronger
2. You’ll retain your strength
3. You’ll be weaker

Only a small percentage of people ever come back (slightly) weaker after a week off. Everyone responds differently, but it doesn’t actually 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 and growth.

Remember that even if you become weaker, you’ll remain the same size.

The point you must remember is that you are ensuring that your new cycle of workouts continues to ignite new growth! However, don’t be concerned, the average trainee comes back stronger after full systemic recovery is allowed to take place.

Rest Up – Get Bigger!

Now go to part 5, or check out the previous sections if you haven’t already.

PART 1PART 2PART 3 | PART 5PART 6PART 7 | PART 8 | PART 9 PART 10 PART 11PART 12PART 13

Mark McManus

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