One of the most important yet most hotly debated and misunderstood aspects of a good workout routine are rest periods. Rest periods are crucial for muscle growth. How do rest periods affect muscle growth and what's the optimal rest period? Let's explore these questions.
Why Rest Periods Are Crucial
There are a few reasons why rest periods are crucial.
First of all, when you exert your muscles you're building up lactic acid and hydrogen ions. In small doses, these substances don't harm your body at all. However, during a workout these substances can really build up to substantial amounts.
These substances will prevent your muscles from exerting themselves fully and cause more fatigue. In other words, it can cause you to tire yourself out without actually making any progress towards your goals.
Even worse, however, is that lactic acid and hydrogen ions can prevent the proper delivery of proteins to your muscles. In other words, your muscles won't be getting the necessary building blocks they need to build stronger muscles.
The other reason rest periods are crucial is because of the way muscle building works. You're basically causing tiny micro injuries in your tissues when you work out. Then when you rest, the body repairs the muscles and makes them stronger than before.
If you don't have proper rest periods, you'll just continually injure your body without actually gaining muscle. That can be very unhealthy.
What's the Proper Rest Period?
The proper rest period is about 48 hours for each muscle group. That said, it's really rare that someone can actually work out one muscle group three times in a week. More realistically, your rest period is probably going to be more like two to four days per muscle group.
Resting your muscle groups doesn't mean not working out. It basically means you alternate working out different parts of your body. For example, you might work out your upper body today, then work out your lower body two days from now, then work out your upper body again a couple days after that.
Also try not to workout three days in a row. Working out a couple days in a row is fine, but keep in mind that even if you're switching up the muscle groups it still takes your body a lot of energy to repair tissue every single day.
If you're continually working out without rest, even if they're different muscle groups, the micro tissue injuries and the lactic acid will build up.
Rest periods are a critical element of strong muscle growth. Make sure you're getting enough rest by spacing out your workouts and alternating the muscle groups you're training. Sometimes the best thing for your muscles and your workout routine is a nice break.