When’s the last time you purposely took time off going to the gym and eating your regular diet?  I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by assuming never!?  Fact is if you follow a structured workout regimen, diet plan and train intensely, regular breaks from the gym are essential for long term success and well-being.  Do you really think that going to the gym every week and never missing a workout for the rest of your life is a solid plan for success? Of course not!

 

A lot of trainees are probably aware that we have different types of muscle fibers, type 1 (slow twitch) and type 2a and 2b (fast twitch) the difference comes down to how they break down a molecule of ATP.  For athletes in explosive and strength sports or people interested in developing a lean muscular physique the more type 2 fibers specifically 2b you want.

 

OK, sounds interesting enough right? But how is this related to taking time off training?  Well over the course of high intensity training there is a huge down conversion of type 2b fibers to type 2a, in fact after only one month of high intensity workouts your body will start converting 2b fiber to 2a in response to training demands and the changes in biochemistry to intense exercise.

 

Regularly scheduling training breaks helps to restore 2a fibers back to your genetically predetermined, pre-training levels of type 2b.  The real kicker however is your everyday couch potato has more type 2b fiber available and ready to fire than the average active person and just slightly less than a world class bodybuilder! Crazy isn’t it!? Taking one to two weeks off every 12-20 weeks of training is a sound approach for any hard training athlete.

 

Another benefit that is seldom addressed is the fact that regular intense exercise over long periods of time produce large amounts of waste products and oxidation which can actually lead to metabolic acidosis or very high blood acidity which is an environment for a whole lot of different ailments to manifest in the body, add prescription drugs whether legitimately prescribed or not and that only adds to it. So regular breaks help to restore optimal biochemical and hormonal environments. Combining a break from the gym with a break from your regular structured diet also helps to get a trainee “chomping at the bit” to get back at it and increases enthusiasm, motivation and diet adherence once training is resumed.

 

Take away point; understanding the needs of your internal environment and allowing your body to completely rest and normalize is doing yourself a world of good for your long term progress and health, going to the gym 7 days a week, 12 months of the year doesn’t make you more deserving of achievement and there is no such thing as a badge of honor for ignorance.

One step back, two steps forward.  Bodybuilding not body destruction!

Yours in fitness

 

Andy Sinclair