A very common mistake fitness newbies make when they are first starting out is overtraining. They workout too hard, too often, this does even happen to really experienced exercisers.
Now this might not seem like a big problem initially, however overtraining can effect your health and is something that needs to be taken seriously. Aside from that, the negative impact of not allowing your body to rest sufficiently can make it far more likely that you don't adhere to your workout habit, due to feeling poorly, excess fatigue or soreness, or even injury, if you aren't allowing your body to heal in between workouts.
There are many different factors that go into the decision of how many rest days per week are sufficient for your body to fully recover, but these four points are a great start when setting up your schedule.
It is absolutely essential for you to know how much your body can handle in a given week. When you first start out training your realistic training frequency will be lower than an experienced lifter simply due to the fact that the muscles you are exercising are not used to being trained and will therefore take longer to recover initially.
For example, if you are just starting out a workout routine you might be able to exercise every muscle group twice a week tops. Whereas more intermediate lifters can find a way to do certain movements 3-4 times a week to hit their weak spots, and finally the more advanced advanced lifters that have been training for years can do certain exercises (within reason) everyday.
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Next we have volume, which compounds on your body over time. Volume can be a tricky element of your training regime to gauge as fatigue is on occasion unpredictable.
A good strategy to incorporate into your training regime is making certain days low volume, and others high volume. By doing this you will keep your body guessing which in turn enables you to blast through the dreaded plateau.
Reading your body is extremely important for determining how many rest days per week you need as well as allocating your volume accordingly.
This takes weight into account — as in the amount of weight you are lifting and how heavy it is for you.
For example, 225lbs on a squat rack for sets of ten would be considered quite low intensity for a seasoned meat head, however for a beginner, this might be their maximum intensity — meaning they’re going to failure at the tenth rep on the first or second set.
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Knowing what your body is capable is absolutely essential to progressing, if you go into the gym focused on lifting as much weight as physically possible and in turn sacrificing form, number of reps and number of sets then you are never going to progress.
What you should be doing is moderating your intensity, much like your volume and frequency to balance fatigue.
And last but not least is lifestyle. There are many lifestyle factors that will contribute to how many rest days per week you need. For example if you work a manual labor job your body is constantly under stress and in turn means at the end of the day your muscles will not be nearly as well rested or as fresh as a person that has been sat behind a desk all day.
Another key factor is SLEEP. Getting enough sleep is a huge factor as it provides you with the majority of your recovery. When you fail to get between 7-9 hours of solid sleep a night, it will hamper your recovery and overall energy levels.
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