It seems that weight training gets more popular every day. Considering the tremendous improvements it can make to your health and appearance, there’s no wondering why. But as more people discover the benefits of weight training, they can fall victim to the “more-is-better” syndrome.
“More-is-better” happens when we see quick improvements in the short-term and think that, if we train harder and more frequently, that the benefits will increase in direct relation to the extra activity.
But just like one beer being refreshing doesn’t mean that a six-pack will be six times as refreshing, more training does not always directly correlate to better results. In fact, it can derail your strength training program altogether.
Especially for beginners, weight training stresses and damages muscle tissue. But that’s part of the plan. The idea is that you train and, in the rest period between your training sessions, your muscle tissue heals itself, becoming stronger in the process.
A 1997 McMaster University study was one of the first to show the correlation between strength training and muscle stress and recovery. The study found that within three hours of a strenuous weight training session, muscles in both men and women showed significant signs of muscle tissue breakdown that remained for 24 hours. Almost simultaneously, their muscles exhibited signs of tissue repair and generation, which lasts for 48 hours following the workout.
The study’s findings have been confirmed by similar results in a number of other studies. The McMaster study also found that the need for rest and recovery goes beyond muscle tissue to include tendons and other connective tissue in the joints. Indeed, the joints are more susceptible to injury; think “tennis elbow”; from repetitive stress without sufficient rest.
So there is strong scientific evidence that shows your muscles will benefit from one or two days’ rest. But don’t despair if you enjoy working out every day. You can focus on different muscle groups or areas each day, like upper body one day and legs the next day. That way, you can hang out at the gym more often.