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Thread: newishbie--do I need to rest a day between strength workouts? page

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    thyme's Avatar
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    newishbie--do I need to rest a day between strength workouts?

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    I've been eating primal for a couple of months and lost 14 pounds. Over the last two weeks, I've stepped my protein up to 100 g/day and felt a significant difference--my toes are twitching when I'm sitting, I put dinner on the stove and want to do a few wall push-ups while it cooks, I've got energy to burn, baby.

    When I run through the Primal Fitness exercises, though, I discover that I suck. For various reasons, I dropped my (rudimentary) strength exercises four months ago and have apparently lost all muscle strength since. I can plank for 10 seconds. I can squat 15 times. I can do 20 wall push-ups. We're not going to talk about pull-ups because I haven't been able to do them for 30 years.

    So question: I've got energy to burn, suddenly, and my muscles suck at burning energy. I remember old school teachings about resting a day between workouts, to allow the muscles to build; I'm also rejecting most all old-school teachings about food to feel better than I've ever felt in my life on primal.

    Should I rest a day or two between my (pathetic) strength workouts? Or should I indulge my energy-burning instincts and do muscular workouts every day regardless? I'm female, and I want to be strong.

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    When you say you can plank for 10 seconds, do 15 squats, etc., do you mean that after doing those you are wiped out? You can't do more after taking a breather for a few minutes? If you push yourself to the maximum, then yes, you ought to rest a day or two or even three.

    Also, a good way to put pent-up energy to use is to take long walks, which don't require taking rest days.
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    MikeEnRegalia's Avatar
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    Keep acurate logs of your progress. As long as you're making progress, you don't need rest days - but it wouldn't hurt to experiment with rest days and see if you could make even more progress with rest days. It will also change as you progress ... the exercises get harder and harder, and the harder the exercise the more rest you require. The simplest method, like I said, is keeping records and then adding more rest days when you stop making progress.

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    thyme's Avatar
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    Grumpy, I can--and do--do more after a breather, but a 10 second plank, even repeated, is still sad.
    MikeER, thanks. I'll start taking notes and seeing where it gets me.

    I think my body answered my question for itself this morning: Yesterday was the first time I'd pushed the exercises to the point of failure--cannot cannot do any more--and today there will be no strength exercises whatsoever. Today previously unknown muscles in previously unknown portions of my body are making themselves quite known.

  5. #5
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    You have to rest, it is very important. As important as the workouts themselves, for without adequate rest the workout is pointless.

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    You don't build muscles during workouts. You build them during recovery.

    Just don't take the "I need to rest" thing to extremes -- a lot of people use "recovery" as an excuse for laziness.

    The harder the workout (for your level, whatever that may be), the more likely you are to need a recovery day. Remember, though, that a recovery day doesn't mean you have to sit on the couch -- just do a different kind of activity. If you're beat from squats, planks, and pushups, spend the next day's workout time on sprints. Play tennis. Go swimming. Take the dog for a hike. Whatever.
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    I have always needed way more rest than seems to be typical for men. I benefit from at least five days if not a week between workouts (of the same muscle group). I feel better and get more gains. My rule is that I do not exercise the same muscle again (to the point of exhaustion) until any soreness has vanished. If I break this rule at all often, I run into problems.

    Every other day working the same muscle to failure or fatigue sounds like a recipe for rapid breakdown. Every other day of walking, on the other hand, seems fine. Depends on the exercise. If I try to beat my body into submission, it beats me into submission.

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    I say go with what you feel. Sometimes I take a random break in the middle of the week, other times I go 7 days in a row. Think frequency, intensity, time, type. Apply that to you workout plan and you will be able to answer many of your own questions.
    "Most men stop when they begin to tire. Good men go until they think they will collapse. But the VERY BEST men know that the mind tires before the body and push themselves beyond all limits. Only when all of these limits have been shattered can the unattainable be reached." ~Dan Gable

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    Quote Originally Posted by BarbeyGirl View Post
    You don't build muscles during workouts. You build them during recovery.

    Just don't take the "I need to rest" thing to extremes -- a lot of people use "recovery" as an excuse for laziness.

    The harder the workout (for your level, whatever that may be), the more likely you are to need a recovery day. Remember, though, that a recovery day doesn't mean you have to sit on the couch -- just do a different kind of activity. If you're beat from squats, planks, and pushups, spend the next day's workout time on sprints. Play tennis. Go swimming. Take the dog for a hike. Whatever.
    I think that's a recipe for failure for most people. If you can do heavy squats on one day and then sprint on the next - good for you. But some people (like Drew Baye) would say that maybe you didn't really squat heavily in that case, or might suspect you to be on steroids, or be a genetic anomaly, or a combination of all of those. The best way to find out, like I said above, is to keep acurate records. If you're making progress, everything's fine, but if not, you maybe need to cut back and get used to the concept that all those activities that you're describing represent stress for the body which it needs to recover from.

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    BarbeyGirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEnRegalia View Post
    I think that's a recipe for failure for most people. If you can do heavy squats on one day and then sprint on the next - good for you. But some people (like Drew Baye) would say that maybe you didn't really squat heavily in that case, or might suspect you to be on steroids, or be a genetic anomaly, or a combination of all of those.
    Context. I agree with you when it comes to lifting really heavy. But, the individual in question is a newbie doing air squats. She says she has "energy to burn, baby." That hardly sounds like overreaching.

    Of course recovery days are important if you're really doing tough workouts, and I don't recommend working out every day even if you're just doing moderate workouts. I do recommend getting some activity every day, even if you're beat and just take a gentle walk. My point was that a lot of people use rest days as an excuse for avoiding general activity, which is stupid.

    If the OP feels like she has extra energy but has done as much bodyweight work as she ought to do in a given day or week, there's no reason she can't get out and do some other kind of movement.
    Last edited by BarbeyGirl; 04-27-2011 at 07:31 AM.
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