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How much rest between exercises do muscles REALLY need?
Old Thu, November 13th, 2008, 07:27 PM   #1
Gance
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Default How much rest between exercises do muscles REALLY need?

Right now I'm doing "my first bulk," and its a three day a week work out. I can't help by feel after certain work outs, that I could just go to the gym the next day especially after legs day when I haven't done anything with my upper body yet.

My question is maybe misguided, but I began wondering, "How much rest do muscles REALLY need to grow?" I've read in various locations to work a muscle group once hard a week and then not do anything for another week (of course a few exercises do use muscles more than once a week...)

I've also heard Abs can be worked much sooner than other muscles.

What is the reasoning behind this all? How much rest do I really need?
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Old Fri, November 14th, 2008, 01:51 PM   #2
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IMO it depends on the severity of the exercise performed as to how long it will be before you can exercise that muscle again.

For instance, let's take "walking".....you can walk every day simply because the muscles are used to it and the load is the same every day (if you walked,say, 2 miles a day total). The fibers used are endurance fibers. If you suddenly go from walking 2 miles a day to 3...you probably won't notice it because the duration is a little longer but the load in terms of weight is still the same and the same fibers are still being used.

Types of programs like 5BX use this principle to some extent. You only ever do pushups for example for chest. The actual load never changes but the repetitions increase. Because the load stays the same in actual weight the emphasis will be more on endurance fibers than the fibers used for power like Type 2-B. Because you are trying to do more reps in an ongoing daily basis in a given time-frame (1 minute), the accellerant increase will increase the intensity ( to a point).

Much is made of the way gymnasts train for extended periods daily.
However,they too reach a point where the actual weight load does not increase and it it becomes more endurance oriented.

The 150lb. gymnast does ,say,20 reps on the pommel horse to start. Later as time goes by he's doing 100. The reps increase but the actual load weight doesn't. So after his body adjusts to the weight level it becomes more endurance oriented.

Endurance fibers can tolerate frequent usage more than fast-twitch.

The gymnast, let's say, once he's used to working at a certain fixed-load duration may never come close to hitting "muscle failure" in a workout on any day.

But you the bb'er, aren't doing what he is.

The average bb'er, to get results for growth, must on ongoing basis continually increase the weight load in some form (no matter how gradually).

The bb'er is not basically cocerned with endurance fibers. For growth he is going to be concerned with overloading Type2-B fast twitch fibers and other fast twitch fibers. Fast-twitch fibers produce bodily muscle size. Endurance fibers do not to any great extent.

The bb'er microscopically damages the muscle tissue so that it will grow bigger.

Therefore after an intense workout, the muscle must have a recovery period. Generally it has been determined that 48 hours is the minimum needed. But this number is not the same for all people.

Recovery is also determined by exactly what it is you are going to do that day.

For instance:- you go Fullbody. For chest, you do one set of 12 reps. 3 times a week. Total reps that week for chest==36.

You go split. Monday is chest day,say. You do 3 sets of 8 Flat bench,3 sets of 8 Pec Deck, 3 sets of 8 Incline Dumbell press, 3 sets of Inc. Barbell press. Total reps that week for chest== 96.

If you are working out with any true intensity, you may need a week to recover from Mondays' split chest workout.

It's like walking up a long set of steps up a mountain.
If you do one step a day, you are not going to need too much rest.
If you go 50 steps a day, you might the need the next day off to recover.
If you go 50 steps a day with a 200lb sack on your back, you might need 3 days off before you do it again.
If you go 50 steps with 400lbs on your back it might be a week before your muscles (and CNS) are ready again.

There is a faction out there that does "One big lift a day".
But although the weight is high the reps and duration are really small.
It has be because if you go anywhere near failure your muscles simply cannot recover fast enough. ( And recovery speed is based on age, genetics,sleep, nutrition, and the actual amount of damage done to the fibers in a workout).

The ab myth:--the reason many people can work their abs on a more frequent basis is that they use endurance routines for abs. They will say " I do 50 crunches every day ". Of course. But it's the same load and your body is used to it, using only endurance fibers.

Take that same person and make them do weighted crunches on a ball,rotational ab cable twists, seated ab machine cable crunches etc.etc., where the weight is increased to where they reach failure and they won't be doing 50 crunches a day.....or the next day.

So...the botton line....the amount of time a muscle needs to recover is directly proportional to how hard that muscle was worked and what fibers you microscopically damaged during the workout and how badly they were damaged.

But 48 hours is a good starting point.
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Old Sat, November 15th, 2008, 05:09 AM   #3
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Wow, amazing explanation... thank you.
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Old Sat, November 15th, 2008, 12:29 PM   #4
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I have always stuck to the 48 hours between workouts. 60 sec between sets. the 48 hours is easy to achieve because I have stuck to a 3 full body workouts a week. so the old MWF or TTS fall into play.
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Old Sat, November 15th, 2008, 04:53 PM   #5
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Gance.....sometimes same load + plus acceleration in a shortened time frame will hit growth fibers.

P90X and 5Bx both use this technique in their programs.

For example:- You do 10 pushups in a minute. As time goes by you increase number of reps in aminute. So you might be up to 40 a minute,say. Acceleration under a given load x increased reps will produce growth because you use fast-twitch fibers for acceleration.

Sprinters usually have more muscle than long-distance runners.

If under same load, you increase reps in agiven time frame, you are forced to add acceleration to the mix.

And the more you increase reps in a given time to max, the closer you come to fatiguing the muscle quickly...if you do as many as you can in that given time frame. But note that in pushups, lots of people can do 25 or more at a shot.....which puts the rep range into "endurance" basically, but the acceleration factor will change the dynamics a bit.

But....lets say I get to where I can bench 100lbs for 10 reps.
I could continue to stay at that weight and simply see how many times on each occasion I could bench 100lbs in a given time-frame.
Which is not the same as if I do 10 reps at a 100lbs in 40 seconds...and then wait 2 minutes and do another 10 at same weight...and then wait 2 minutes and do another 10 etc.etc. at normal cadence.

I might get to a point where I could do 100 reps of 100lbs in one minute. But there is where the "falloff" point will occur. Genetically it might take me six more months before I can do 110 reps in a minute with the same load.

Some growth no doubt will have occurred in order to meet the demands I placed upon the muscles.

I will have done a lot of reps to get the same growth I could have got with a better-structured lifting routine that focusses on intensity and load-increase more. But never-the-less the muscles used for that ex will have more endurance.

The other downside of acceleration training is that if I keep increasing the load while also increasing acceleration reps, I reach a point where I could do myself some hefty tendon and ligament damage eventually.

Like if I was trying to bench 300lbs as fast as I could in one minute, every workout and 300lbs was at or near my max.
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Old Sun, November 16th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #6
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Interesting, maybe because the muscles are working against gravity or resistance at a faster pace then?

This is something I'll have to consider before adding weight to exercises like chinups and such. Although, until I get form down on other exercises I'll probably have to keep the methodical slower pace for now. Very interesting info. I may not have a gym available in a year, therefore this information is extremely useful for that time when I'll probably only have a pair of dumbbells and my body to work out with.
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