One of the biggest mistakes, if not the biggest, I have seen when it comes to working out is not taking sufficient rest time between workouts. Although it is easy to get excited and be highly motivated, if you make the mistake of not taking sufficient days off you will fall short of making progress.
I have been there before, perhaps you have as well. Your goal was to gain muscle or lose fat or you simply wanted to tone your body so you decided you were going to give it 100 percent at the gym 7 days a week. Pretty soon you found your body not reacting and looking pretty much the same as when you started.
I’m Gonna Work Out Every Day ‘Til Summer!
There is nothing necessarily wrong with doing some type of activity on a daily basis. Some people do it. Others choose to work out a few days a week and look great as well. If one group is working out less and the other more and both are getting similar results then why would you want to force your body to work out at maximum capacity every day?
Avoid Consecutive Days
It may sound like I am telling you to avoid working out every day and to take an approach of working out every other day. What I actually mean is to stop working out on the same muscle group every day.
Every spring, when people start working out for summer, I come across a person or two telling me they are sore from (insert body part here) because they had a good workout. I will then ask them, “What are you working on today?” Most of the time I get a reply of, “I think I’m going to do the same workout I did yesterday.”
After this reply I will explain that the body needs to get sufficient rest time between workouts in order to repair and grow. This is not to say that having rest time will create massive muscle growth. For massive muscle growth to take place there are other factors we won’t get in to here (read my previous post on how to bulk up fast) but just understand that muscle growth is necessary if you want to look fit and athletic.
Rest Time Between Workouts- How They Should Be Spaced Out
Here is Reuben Bajada of the Permanent Muscle Program doing push ups but later in the video he explains how often someone should work out.
(Video Courtesy of Reuben Bajada’s Permanent Muscle Program)
First thing to remember- DO NOT WORK ON THE SAME MUSCLE GROUP ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS.
I cannot stress this enough. Listen to this one tip and you will be ahead of many out there. It is the simplest tip to follow and unfortunately a tip that took me a while to really follow when I was starting out.
If you are looking to gain muscle fast then try and allow sufficient rest time of at least 72 hours between a workout for a specific muscle group. You can rest longer depending on the level of intensity at which you did a workout. For example, if you did a legs workout today then your next workout should happen no sooner than 72 hours from now. This will allow sufficient recovery time.
Different levels of fitness require different rest periods in order to make the proper gains. Rusty Moore of Fitness Black Book has an interesting post on this subject titled, “Muscle Recovery- The More Advanced You Get The Trickier It Gets.”
How Do You Know Whether You Have Taken Enough Rest Time?
My rule of thumb is if you are not able to do the same workout the next time at the same intensity then you need more rest periods. For example, ever noticed that you have been able to squat with a certain amount of weight one week and the next you are struggling at the same weight? This is a good indicator that you need more rest days in between workouts for that body part.
If you fail to take sufficient rest time it is likely you will come across a plateau effect. This is one thing you want to avoid, as your gains will stop, hopefully temporarily. In order to overcome this plateau effect you can simply do some principles outlined in muscle confusion.
Just remember that giving your body sufficient time between workouts will help you build muscle, which will help you burn fat and in the end look lean.