Rest days and overtraining are two topics which often cause endless hours of debate within the fitness industry. Some trainers, gurus and coaches will insist upon multiple rest days in a week and short duration sessions of under 45 minutes. While there is also advocates for twice daily training sessions last 2 hours or more.
So… Who is right? Or how can people from both camps have such drastically different views, yet still get results?
Unfortunately the answers are not in any text books, or courses or classrooms. The answers I have always found to be most reliable on any subject matter have been found through trial and error. Yes, I will first study theories and ideas and the logic behind them, but then I will put them into practise first hand and see for myself what way my body responds. Once I am happy with a method of training or nutrition or recovery and how it improves my physique I will then go through the same trial and error principle with a client of mine who has the same goals as myself. However just because a style of training and recovering has worked for me, does not mean it will work for everyone.
So, again you ask…. Who is right? How much rest do you need, or what is considered overtraining? The answers I have found, along with the results achieved not only by myself, but by ,my clients over the years, have led me to the answer that….. There is no such thing as overtraining.
Now before all the rest day advocates react and give out to that last statement, let me explain. Of course the body needs time to rest and recover. It also needs sufficient calories, and the body needs these calories at specific times. On top of this, not all calories are created equal so the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats at certain times is very important, as well as the quality of each source of the macronutrients. Lastly the body also requires adequate sleep to recover, and repair.
Before I begin to complain about overtraining or look to training as a reason for feeling tired or sluggish, I will always asses recovery. I have followed all types of training protocols over the years, from Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty training which suggested seven (7) or more days of rest after a workout, to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s two-a-day routines, with just one rest day per week.
I currently feel that with my own extensive training history, my body is now capable of recovering much quicker than it used in the past. I also have found the same to be true for most of my clients and training partners over the years. My nutritional knowledge has improved vastly over the years which has also contributed to my increased recovery, and I am now also very mindful of getting enough quality sleep every night to allow me to attack each new day and new workout with vigour.
Essentially I feel that if your mind and body can really push through an intense workout in the gym, then your mind and body are more than capable of repairing those muscles and replenishing your glycogen stores ahead of your next workout. If you workout for one hour each day, that is just 4% of your 24 hours. What truly matters is what you do with the other 96% of your day. Anyone can do a one hour workout, but not everyone has the discipline to get their shopping done. Prepare and cook all their meals. Structure and time all their meals correctly to suit their training needs and goals. Get to bed early and get sufficient sleep.
The best advice I can give is to listen to your body. Learn how much you can push it. Learn how much rest you require. How many calories you require and when. But never be afraid to push the boundaries. Once you adapt to certain training plan, don’t be afraid to mix things up. With any form of physical training or sport one simple rule applies….. You get out, what you put in!