How Much Rest?
When working out, especially when performing strength exercises such as lifting weights or doing high volumes of push-ups, recovery time is very important. When you perform strength exercises, your muscles are actually broken down at the microscopic level. They then rebuild themselves bigger and stronger in order to adapt to the weight that you are lifting. Too little rest and your muscles will not have enough time to completely rebuild, leading to declining results and leaving you vulnerable to injury. Too much rest and your muscles will actually start breaking down. Since muscles burn a significant amount of calories, your body wants to have the minimum possible amount to keep you alive. Therefore, if you take an extended period of time off, your body will think that it no longer needs as much muscle and will start to get rid of it. But how much rest is appropriate? According to the University of New Mexico, the amount of rest you need depends on 4 things: Your gender, what your current training level is, what your particular goal is, and what your volume of training is. For gender, studies have shown that females actually need less recovery time than equally fit males. For your current training level, if you are a beginner, your muscles aren’t as used to the exercises you are performing so you are going to want to take a little bit more rest. For training goals, there are different recommended rest times for people aiming at Hypertrophy then there are for people aiming at Endurance. And for volume of training, if you are performing a high number of reps and sets one day, you are going to want to take some more rest. In general, though, the recommended rest time is between 1-2 days. But this 1-2 days is the recommended rest between working out the same muscle group. So if you work out your chest one day, you can work out your legs the next day and still be fine. This is where the 3-Day Split comes into play.
The 3-Day Split
The 3-Day Split is basically just an effective way of organizing your workouts by muscle group. As the name suggests, you will be doing 3 weightlifting workouts a week, with each day working out a different muscle group. You can pick which days are best according to your personal schedule but you want to try and make it so that you have a day of rest in between. A standard schedule is to workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then rest or do other non-weight exercises the other days. For the muscle groups, a lot of people, including me, divide them into the following categories: Chest, Triceps, Biceps, Forearms, Shoulders, Back, Legs, and Abs. They then organize them and assign each muscle group to a day. For me, I combine Chest, Triceps, and Forearms and assign them to Monday, Back, Biceps, and Shoulders to Wednesday, and Legs to Friday. Working out the legs, AKA Leg Day, is a pretty intense day on its own so a lot of people assign it its own day. For me, I normally finish off each session with abs so I don’t assign them to a specific day.
After you assign each muscle group to a day, it is now time to pick out which exercises you are going to do. For Chest, Triceps & Forearms and Biceps & Back, try and pick out a couple exercises for each muscle group to make it even. For Legs and Shoulders, there are many smaller parts to each of the bigger muscle groups. Such as for Shoulders, there are Deltoids, Traps, Lats, and more. So for the Shoulders and Legs, try and pick out an exercise for each of the individual muscles.
There is also a similar program for more advanced weightlifters called a 6-Day split. With the 6 day split, you workout 6 days a week and work each muscle group twice. This is nice because you can get more exercises in for each muscle group without spending an extended period of time at the gym each day. So you will consolidate a 3 day split into Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then repeat for the next 3 days with different exercises.
If you would like an example of my 3-Day or 6-Day split plans, just email me and I will send it to you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to create your own workout plan, I would suggest downloading the Fitness Lab app for your phone. Again, I am not getting paid to advertise. I just find the app to have a lot of good exercises and it is very well organized. It also shows animations on how to perform each exercise. This app is where I found all the exercises for my workout plan and there a lot more that I did not include. So just remember to take 1-2 days between each muscle group workout and with proper nutrition and sleep, you will go far to preventing injury. Keep lifting!
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