In order to MAXIMIZE muscle gains you need to take a well deserved break every now and then.
Specifically I’m talking about talking a full week away from training altogether. This principle literally means that you do less and gain more!
This isn’t wishful thinking, there are very good reasons as to why you need to FULLY rest your body once in a while.
Systemic Muscle Recovery – You Must S.T.O.P.
I call it the Strategic Time-Out Period, or STOP. Let’s have a closer look…
The Psychological Effect
This should be self-explanatory. Sometimes you just feel like you need some time off. The mental benefit of knowing that there’s a week-long break coming up will help you stay focused and enthusiastic for each training cycle.
After your week off, you’ll be as excited as a noob about hitting the iron!
The Physical Benefit
Putting your feet up for a week may seem like a bad idea, but over the course of a few months you will experience more growth because of it. Why?
After one complete training cycle your results may start to slow down. You won’t stop progressing completely, but the rate at which you are increasing weight and/or reps will probably begin to slow.
Local recovery of a muscle after an average THT workout is pretty much complete in 36-48 hrs. SYSTEMIC recovery, on the other hand, takes longer. When you add this up over the course of a full training cycle, you get to a point where you are never going to be systemically recovered before a workout. You’ll feel tired, sluggish, de-motivated, and strength progressions may pretty much cease.
Therefore we must train in cycles. Between each training cycle we take a 1 week lay-off which ensures that we keep growing and keep getting stronger.
So, you want to know how often to take a week off from weight lifting? Once every 8 to 12 weeks is best. In THT we take a break once every 10 weeks.
Now check this out…
7 days is not enough for your muscles to atrophy i.e. at the end of your week off, you’ll still be the same size.
However, your body will be PRIMED to respond to new stimuli all over again. It’s like you take a week off and your body says, “Thank God! The maniac has stopped! Let’s just repair everything here and get back to normal.”
And just when it least expects it, BLAM! You’re back and the body is forced into adaptation mode all over again.
We all know that beginners get the best gains. What we’re doing is using the same principle that allows them to make such rapid gains for NEW growth in every training cycle.
As far as strength goes, you’ll respond in 1 of 3 ways when you get back at it:
1. You’ll be stronger
2. You’ll retain your strength
3. You’ll be weaker
Only a small percentage of people ever come back (slightly) weaker after a week off. Everyone responds differently, but it doesn’t actually matter.
Ok, becoming stronger or retaining your current level of strength is fine. But so is getting a little weaker.
Getting weaker is due to ‘Deconditioning.’ Deconditioning simply means a loss of fitness due to a cessation in training. In this case it’s “deliberate deconditioning” as you are intentionally preparing your muscles for a new phase of adaptation and growth.
Remember that even if you become weaker, you’ll remain the same size.
The point you must remember is that you are ensuring that your new cycle of workouts continues to ignite new growth! However, don’t be concerned, the average trainee comes back stronger after full systemic recovery is allowed to take place.
Rest Up – Get Bigger!
Now go to part 5, or check out the previous sections if you haven’t already.
PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 5 | PART 6| PART 7 | PART 8 | PART 9 | PART 10 | PART 11 | PART 12 | PART 13
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awesome article mark. makes sense.
Just started on the programme and enjoying it. A week into the programme and it is definately better than the previous training schedules I was given. What makes it even greater is that all this knowledge is given for free… thank you. This is really awesome stuff and its definately appreciated.
Ps how do I get access to THT 2.0
Mark, isn’t the Volume Cycle from TA 3.1 an improvement of the THT 2.0? I have both on my PC, and I have this impression.
Thanks in advance.
@Girish. Glad it’s going well. The 2.0 workouts and logs are going to be published right here on this site so keep checking back today and for the rest of the week.
super info Mark What are your thoughts on pullups and when should you incorperate them in your workouts. i am currently doing your 1 body part a day routine i found a while back. i use this workout because it works and i like it.your comments would be greatly appreciated. ps go packers. Mike in Wisconsin
To those who doubt the program … I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t. I’ve followed 2.0, and with excellent results. Strength has definitely increased, which is most important for me as a paramedic. Mark – I posted on an earlier article, which spoke about the need for enough water intake. I commented that the colour of your urine is a loose indicator. Someone else posted that this isn’t totally accurate. Well, time to eat crow … as they were right ! I recently had some bloodwork done, and found my creatinine to be high – something which points to dehydration. I used to think 5-8 glasses of fluid was enough. I was wrong … if you’re pushing the body, increasing protein consumption, you need more fluid ! But here’s a question for you … results also showed that my cholesterol to be dangerously high. Does eating your low carb diet affect this ? It’s good to look nice on the outside, but at this point I’m a little concerned about the inside of this body !
@Mike. Great exercise. Any time you are doing cable rows or bent over barbell rows, you can substitute pull-ups in a successive cycle. In 2.0 I recommend 3 sets of barbell rows in addition to deadlifts. However, next time round you can do pull-ups. I’ll be publishing an ‘exercise bank’ with lists of substitute exercises on this site very soon.
@floaterball. Thanks. Glad THT 2.0 delivered for you!
Total cholesterol doesn’t tell you anything. If anything, eggs will increase your HDL Cholesterol more than LDL, IMPROVING the HDL:LDL ratio and thereby REDUCING the risk of a heart attack.
See this post for more…
Mark, any surgestions about taking 2 weeks off. Im taking the family on holiday. Im worried I will loose to much conditioning. What are your thoughts…… this will be my first break from my training in 4 months.
@Gary. You may come back stronger. Especially if it’s your first break in a long time. This is often the case for people who never take time off and are then forced to for a couple of weeks. They are so overtrained that when they allow full systemic recovery, they actually come back stronger.
However, if you do regularly take breaks, just perform some bodyweight exercises quite slowly and until failure on the last week of your holiday.