If you don’t rest enough, you don’t grow enough.~ Mike Mentzer
I’ve tried to explain this concept ’til I’m red in the face. However, some people still don’t get it. I don’t really know why, so I’m going to try and articulate this point in the clearest way possible today. If you have any questions, concerns, or need me to clarify anything for you, just ask me in the comments below.
This is extremely important because understanding it holds the key to knowing for certain whether or not you are building muscle. You want that certainty? Then read on…
Here’s the bottom line: If there is not sufficient rest between workouts, you will not build any muscle.
It’s really that simple.You want to have certainty that you are building muscle? Click here to find out how Click To Tweet
Your workout needs to be intense in order to ensure that you have stimulated growth. However, once stimulated, all the body needs is rest (and calories and protein) in order to grow.
But many people just refuse to do it. They’re so caught up in the “more is better” mindset, that they cannot grasp this simple scientific fact.
They don’t seem to understand what overtraining really is. Even CT Fletcher doesn’t know what it is, though he is fond of telling people that you can’t overtrain.
So how about thinking about it as “under-recovery” or “under-growth”, instead of overtraining? Does that make more sense?
Understand that you do not go to gym to build muscle. You really don’t. A workout does not ‘produce‘ growth, it only stimulates growth, and that growth is a process that takes time.
So there are 2 phases of building muscle, and both equally important.
- The stimulation
- The rest period to allow the body to produce the gains that were stimulated
Here is a diagram I had created a few years ago to explain this point. I call the point in time when you have produced all the gains stimulated by the workout, the Peak Overcompensation Point (POP for short).
So if enough time has not elapsed, you have under-recovered/over-trained and you will make NO progress. None.Overtraining = Under-recovering. Too much work + not enough rest = no muscle growth Click To Tweet
HOW LONG DOES FULL RECOVERY & GROWTH TAKE?
How long does it take for full recovery. If doing ~2 sets to failure for each body part, it will take around 36-48 hours. So you can train your whole body with about 2 sets every 48 hours and make great gains. Though don’t be tempted to do more sets. This is the basis of the THT 3-day/week full-body routine.
If doing around 8-10 sets to failure for each muscle, it will take 5-7 days for full recovery and growth. Using this higher volume approach, we must split the body up, doing 2-3 body parts per day and training each muscle once a week (the traditional 5-day split).
By the way, when cutting your POP time increases because the caloric deficit means it takes longer to recover. Many guys go on a cut and do MORE work! This is just one reason why so many guys lose muscle when trying to get ripped. If you really want to cut quickly and effectively, check out my dedicated cutting program Total Six Pack Abs.
HOW TO KNOW FOR SURE THAT YOU HAVE GROWN
So now back to the title of this article: how can we know with certainty that we are growing and progressing?
Really what we are asking here is, how do I know if enough time has elapsed so that I am fully overcompensating? (hitting that P.O.P. point)
It’s actually simple. First, you need to keep training logs and keep a record of all your weights and reps for each exercise (you get free training logs with free THT training).
Now, did you get stronger? Did you get at least 1 more rep in most sets? Or where you able to use a slightly heavier weight in the same rep range?
Yes? Then you’ve hit POP. You’ve overcompensated. The body has adapted. Good times!
If you are weaker or about the same, you have not let enough time elapse. You’re overtraining/under-recovering and getting nowhere. You’re either doing too many sets or not taking enough rest. Simple.
So now you know.
NOTE: Download THT training free: If you want a training package that strikes the right balance of sets and frequency, it’s all covered in THT! Whether you want to train 3 days or 5 days per week, you can make uninterrupted progress and hit POP every time.
You can download the full and FREE THT training program right now and start packing on mass like these guys did. You don’t have to go to your email to confirm anything. Once you click the button, you’ll be taken straight to the download page 😀 I operate a ‘Strictly Zero Spam‘ policy.
I hope this helps. And if you have any more suggestions, or even questions about your training, get in touch with me below. I’m always happy to help.
And also add me on social media here…
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+
Train With Intensity!
P.S. If you need help and would like to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with me via skype, go to this page for more info and times when I am available to chat to you.
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
Join thousands over the world who are packing on slabs of new muscle for free with Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT)
Fantastic. Using 3 day THT now and making terrific gains Mark. Always getting a little stronger, but the size gains have been the best I’ve ever experienced. You rock!
I’m new to all this (6 months), and currently have the bug so working out quite a lot.
I do Arms/Chest/Legs/Back/Shoulders once a week on separate days
I do Abs (10 mins) after every muscle group above
I also do abs on my 2 ‘rest’ days, nice long 60 minutes session, also on my 2 rest days I run for 60 mins or cycle.
I think I am probably over training but hoping leaving enough time between muscle groups so I’m doing OK.
My body fat in 6 months has reduced from 23% to 16% and I have gone form ‘slightly fat to ‘much improved’ with ‘for me’ a lot of muscle tone.
What are your thoughts?
Great article. I didn’t know that more sets would make such a difference in the recovery time, but it makes sense.
I’m now following the 5-days split and making gains in strength in some areas. For some reason, shoulders are lagging behind – no gains there although I am going to failure on each set.
Overall, your programs are the best. Thank you Mark.
Watching most guys in the gym there is absolutely no intensity….you can see if they are putting in the effort by their facial expressions and the rest break in between sets..so they might go home and recover but what are they recovering from….nothing…its these guys that give THT and HIT a bad name cause they actually dont know the effort they have to put in in order to stimulate growth…it annoys me!! because muscle growth is right there for the taking but they choose to train like the rest of the sheep…i had a client who said he did the mike mentzers hit programme and gained nothing…i told him to show me what he did and we scheduled a session in the gym, he took 30min to complete it and when he was finished i said….where’s the intensity? so i showed him what i meant by sending him a you tube clip of mike training another pro bodybuilder…they were doing 2 sets of deadlifts and mike showed this (pro) what 2 sets of HIT is all about. i said to him…do you see what intensity is now…and he said…thats not for me and in frustration i said then dont expect to gain much muscle and dont give HIT a bad rap cause it didnt do anything for you.. Gees, i just want to clap guys like that and sadly its 90% of them in the gym.
@rob almond. First, congrats on getting started. But that’s not a good set-up. You are certainly overtraining your abs and possibly not giving enough attention to other body parts. It’s also best to leave 48hrs between working chest and triceps, which you are not doing.
You should download my free THT training and do the 5-day split. And if you want to further reduce your body fat percentage, check out my Total Six Pack Abs program for how to eat in addition to that 5-day split.
Question- if I did a three day routine where I work out Sat, and do arms and legs, Sun chest and back, and Mon shoulders and lats – and dont do any more until the following sat- will this be effective? I concentrate on different body parts and rest them for a full week. Worried about cross use of non-targeted musles hurting me though. This just fits better into my schedule. I like to use, positives, negatives and statics where possible.
@Jason. Exactly, most guys are not going any where close to maximum intensity in every set. They stimulate nothing….then wonder why they don’t get any bigger. They’re getting nothing done. They just don’t like to put in that kind of effort. And yes I agree…it’s annoying!
Mark, I’ve recently reduced the amount of weight I’ve been lifting and am starting to notice better gains. I realized that I was feeling the weight and not the muscle – once I lowered my weights, and really did each rep properly (no shaking, 2 second negatives, etc.), it really helped out. I used to get so caught up in making sure I was doing one more rep or increasing weight the next time, that I got to a point where I was just lifting too much weight. Going forward I’m just making sure I lift at least the same reps/weight for each muscle, but let the muscle dictate whether I can get one more rep to failure… this seems to be a better mental approach for me. I hope this helps some…
Hi. My gains are variable. Sometimes it’s one step forwards two steps back. I sometimes gain abit in one area (say legs) and stay the same in another area (say arms). Some days I’m simply tired due to work/life so I shouldn’t beat myself up too much if I’m only just reaching the same lifts as last session, right? I do worry about variations in my output, but doesn’t really go backwards, just stays the same, but in my mind for too long. I guess pre workout hydration levels, sleep shortage, mental focus all vary slightly every session. I keep food and pre-workout cocktail, straps, gloves, weight equipment all identical all week/cycle, to try have a consistent baseline to compare myself against.
another great post!!! I’ve been working out for 40 years and since I’ve been following your posts my progress has never been better. The mind body connection posts (meditation, worry, success, etc) are off-the-hook and pushed me to a new level of personal gains; in and out of the gym. Keep up the great work
Love reading your articles. I have a lot of weight to lose. Started going to the gym but I am getting no where fast. Started reading your articles this week about training and diet and would like to get on board with your program. Which approach should I take – TNT or Six pack abs? I have to lose about 50 lbs. and want to do it the right way.
Thanks for listening.
Is age a factor in the rest periods? I’m 65, am following the 3 day full-body work out, I take 48 hours between workouts & I still feel tired & also struggle to lift more weight for the desired number of reps, but only for some exercises, such as shoulders, not for all. Cheers
@Joe. You’re absolutely right. Feel the muscle, not the weight. Your job is muscle stimulation, not using the heaviest weights possible. 😀
@Richard. Many times, gains are cyclical in nature. You gain in strength for a while with no size gains, then all of a sudden you gain size.
Now, it also sounds like you have a problem with systemic recovery. Are you not talking a week off every 10 weeks? You’ll need this to make uninterrupted progress.
@Tom. Thank you! 😀
@Kevin. With 50lbs to lose, Total Six Pack Abs is what you need now. But with that program, you’ll still train THT-style and make gains in the gym, so it’s all good.
All the best 😀
@Paul. Yes, age makes a difference in recovery time. It may take you longer. In order to make uninterrupted progress, I suggest you experiment with 2 full-body workouts next week and assess your strength gains in the gym. Try Monday and Thursday.
Thanks Mark, will give that a go. Based on your advice regarding rest, reducing from 3 to 2 workouts per week should still result in growth so I’ll be keen to monitor that.
i just want to ask,i have been doing the military press and was told by friends that it is not a natural movement for the body and i should not be doing it,the same goes for pull down behind….what is your feeling on this?
many thanks mate
Hey marc could rigth a article about training for strength and muscle mass? Your content is very good and you talk about full body training thats it’s not so pupular but really effective for the natural lifters.I would like to know you view about how to training to get stronger and build muscle mass, i know you have an article about 5×5 training ? witch rep range would you adivice for someone who wants to get strenger on the main lifts such as Bench, squats, deadlifts but also would like to build muscle mass? Thanks
@Winston. It is unnatural and potentially harmful to do either a military press or a pull down behind the head. It’s also not as effective at recruiting muscle fibers as when performed in front of your head. Cheers.
@Andre. Like I stated in the 5×5 article, low rep so-called “strength training” is not optimal for size gains. For the most part, you should train 8-12 reps to failure for every set. Or just download my THT workout and you’ll know exactly what to do.
Thanks Mark,won’t do that again