Perhaps one of the most interesting things I ever came across was the role of resting (yes, not working out) in order to gain superior strength. As a former basketball player, I always thought that the 5 day training for our meets and traveling games was the norm. When I entered into the world of strength training, I would find that 5 day sessions in the gym are actually not what you want when it comes to gaining a ton of strength. In fact, you can get by with very LITTLE training in order to get stronger and hit some serious personal records. My coach for the Iron Maiden challenge even had me stop working out for a period of 2 weeks after hitting the 24kg pull up in practice to save my energy for the lifting meet in Texas.
Ok. ..so what gives here? Is this all about just resting and recovery or is there more to the story when it comes to this whole aspect of power training? Today, I want to cover the work rest ration in terms of your overall weekly and monthly training programs. You may find that you don’t actually have to kill yourself to earn your next big lift. In fact, you may be doing your body a disservice by training that hard day in and day out.
Our bodies are remarkable things, and if we keep up with a clean diet and enough rest to sustain our training, we tend to recover well from our exercise programs. However, life happens, and sometimes the demands of our lives can interfere with our own stress responses. Geoff Neupert, Level II SFG said it the best. “If you have a lot going on in your life and lack the ability to fully recover from your workouts like you once did, you have zero business training the way you used to – or the way others do.” He meant this to mean that you should not KILL yourself regularly when training for strength, especially if you are an ultra busy type like, well. .most of the general population is these days.
Allow me to elaborate.
Intense weight training sessions puts a lot of stress on they body as a whole, and it goes far beyond your mere muscular system. Your nervous system takes a toll from heavy weight training sessions. Think about it. It takes a ton of energy to lift heavy day in and day out. Your body’s very own stress response, that fight-or-flight, reaction, gets stimulated an awful lot during hard training. While heavy lifting can increase a lot of friendly endorphins, it can also increase your cortisol levels too. Too much cortisol from too much training and not enough rest will result in what I like to call the “jacked up lifter syndrome”. That cranky, irritated, sore and more frequently sick type. . .not a good thing. Exercise should enhance our lives not tear us down. When we cannot recovery from our exercises and start to have our immune system fail us from too much training and not enough rest, well.. .we can’t reasonably expect to get stronger now. . .can we?
I’ve written before about taking an entire week off of training after a heavy session. There is some solid reason behind all that too. 1). Resting allows your body ample time to repair from the stress of the workloads themselves. One of my current private clients remarked how much more well defined he was looking after having a week off of training. “I just look a lot more cut” he said. “This is awesome!”. Pounding the weights hard every day results in too much break down of your muscle tissue. The rest time, that repair work, THAT is what leads to more body composition changes. 2). Strength seems to pick up all the more when time is taken off. Your entire body has more time to save energy when you just rest up, sleep well, and eat better. After my Level II, I took a week off of training and did nothing but some mild primal move sessions with my clients and slept and ate A LOT. I decided to retest my max lifts last Saturday to see how to stack my training for the next 3 weeks. The personal records were so amazing, it was down right scary.
I hit a 5 pre max of double kettlebell presses at 20kgs.
I hit a 5 rep max of double kettlebell front squats at 20 kgs.
I hit a single arm press on both arms at a 28kg.
My 10 rep maxes for double ballistics (snatches, swings, cleans) is now at double 16kgs
And I FINALLY I hit a pistol squat on both right and left legs at a 26kg, the right leg being more significant since i Had a hip issue that was compensating my movement there (please see this previous post). Check out this video below of that!
So. . .omg what is this? Sorcery? I guess this just goes to show you that taking the time OFF training can really make for a scary stronger you, which is effing bad ass if you ask me 😀
At Primal Fitness Pittsburgh, our training is set up much the same. Our clients hit their hardstyle training and body weight conditioning hard for a solid 3-4 weeks but, there is always that off week programmed into their training to allow for sufficient rest, recovery, and strength gains. It’s an often neglected piece of the fitness puzzle, that whole resting and recovery aspect. But trust me on this, the less stress we put on ourselves from our workouts, the stronger we will be. Less here for strength training really is more 🙂
Have a great weekend everyone! Rest up! Until next time. . .
Master your instincts!