How Much Rest Between Workouts? Exactly How Much Rest Is Ideal?

So you’re totally pumped up and ready to get going on your muscle workouts, but you’re wondering exactly how often you should be training and how much rest you should be getting between workouts?

This is a very common question and quite rightly so, as it’s an important one too, since our muscles grow when we are resting…not while we are training.

Training too often can cause all sorts of problems, the least of which will be slow and stunted muscle growth. On the other hand, training too little or infrequently can reduce your potential to build muscle and result in frustration and poor muscle growth.

So exactly how much rest should you be getting between workouts – what is the ideal rest period for maximum muscle growth?

How Much Rest Between Workouts

Ideally I recommend that you allow AT LEAST one full day’s rest period between your workouts (by this I mean an “off-day” – i.e. if you work out on a Monday, then your next session will not be until at least Wednesday – so 48 hours rest effectively). The key is to allow your muscles the time to repair themselves, and they can not do this if they are being pounded with weights every day. By having at least one full day’s rest between your workouts you assist your body’s own natural muscle building mechanisms.

I find the best way to achieve this balance is by performing all-body workouts as opposed to split workouts. Let me explain…

Split workouts are fairly popular, i.e. where you are maybe alternating upper body and lower body exercises on different days, or splitting your muscle groups like this – Monday (back and legs), Wednesday (arms and chest), Friday (back and legs), etc.

The problem with split workouts is that if they are not properly designed you may find yourself overtraining certain muscle groups…for example, even though Monday is your “back day” you are still utilizing your arm muscles in many of the back exercises that you perform. Therefore you are unintentionally compromising your arm rest periods.

Also, you may find yourself undertraining certain muscle groups since they may only be being trained once a week.

I prefer the all-body workout since it minimizes this potential of both overtraining and undertraining. This is because you will work ALL the major muscle groups 3 times per week, and will allow these same muscle groups equal rest time between workouts, helping you to gain muscle mass faster.

Check out my review of this popular muscle building guide designed for skinny hardgainers, and based on 3 to 4 all-body workouts per week ==> No Nonsense Muscle Building Review

Be Consistent

The key to maximizing your muscle growth and managing how much rest you get between workouts is finding a solid plan and timetable and being consistent. This will allow you to build momentum and make the whole process much easier.

It will also prevent you from skipping and missing workouts and feeling that you somehow need to play catch-up. If for whatever reason you do miss a workout, don’t be tempted to try and fit two workouts into two days just so that you can keep up with your schedule for the week. Keep your rest days consistent and then just pick up your next workout from there.

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11 Responses to How Much Rest Between Workouts? Exactly How Much Rest Is Ideal?

  1. Pingback: How To Avoid Overtraining in Your Bodybuilding Workout Routines | Gain Muscle Mass

  2. Pingback: The 3 Dangers of Overtraining in Your Bodybuilding Workouts | Gain Muscle Mass

  3. Eventhough I haven’t totally jumped on the full body workout bandwagon ( I still use primarily split routines) I think that it’s very important to allow for adequate rest peroids between workouts. If I’m feeling a bit run-down, I’ll allow for a full 2 day rest period before my nedt workout. For some reason 2 days is the magic number for my body.

  4. sujay says:

    even though 48 hours rest is must but even after 48 hours if you feel that your body has not recovered then give it more rest, listen to your body understand what it is telling you and form a plan. The results will be great!!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the input Sujay.

      That’s right that sometimes getting more rest can be more beneficial and avoid overtraining.
      Only thing I’d say to complete beginners is that they sometimes mistake normal muscle soreness for injury, and end up resting until they no longer feel sore. This is overdoing the rest and will break a routine before they even get started.


  5. I’m still learning from you, while I’m trying to achieve my goals. I definitely love reading all that is written on your site.Keep the information coming. I enjoyed it!

  6. Bob says:

    Have read many conflicting opinions on this. Do you feel it’s OK to do your aerobic type workout, e.g. Treadmill, elliptical, etc., on your “off” days?

    • admin says:

      Hi Bob,

      If you’re looking to bulk up and gain mass, I would avoid doing aerobic activity on your off days, since you would still be using those muscles albeit in a slightly different fashion.

      The idea behind the full day’s rest is to ensure your muscle fibres have maximum time to recover, particularly since you’re doing heavy lifting which puts extra strain on them.


  7. Dale says:

    I have decided that I’m tired of being the skinny guy and giving myself the month of March to get into a routine of being more healthy and fitter. I’ve joined the gym at work and doing 2 body pump classes, a pilates and a yoga class during the week and a boot camp session on Saturday. I definitely have muscle soreness but I assume I’m good to keep that up until I decide on the magic powers of Vince. I want to keep my slim waist but want to bulk up on my shoulders, chest and I have to eat like a trooper in order to get results?

    • admin says:

      Hey Dale,

      Glad to hear you’re determined to change your body for the better…you’re already halfway to success.

      If you’re looking to gain more muscle mass you will need to consume more daily calories spread over 6 meals (every 3 hours roughly). You also need to ensure your protein intake is sufficient and properly timed.

      From what you mentioned about the type of training you’re doing, you’ll need to increase the amount of pure weight lifting you’re doing…the body pump classes, pilates and yoga are great for flexibility and cardio fitness, but are not muscle builders. You’ll see faster results if you add more weight training into your schedule.

      Make sure you read my article on getting bigger shoulders here…there’s also a great shoulder workout video from Vince on there too which is tough to say the least! ;)

      Keep it up Dale…the more you do the more you want to do. This whole fitness thing is addictive!

      All the best,

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