How You Become Stronger With Extra Rest

What happened to those huge leaps you made when you just started with working out?

And what about those chin ups, pull ups or push ups?

It seems like you are only getting more tired.


Not as an excuse, but simply because you have never worked out this hard before.

You have given it your all. Leaning beyond your edge. Balancing above the canyon of ‘exhaustion’.

2 days straight and those 2 days ended up being 5 days and those 5 days ended up being 7 days.


Your mindset. Your diet and your workout plan. All on point, flawless.

But actually working out another day?

Not a chance, you feel sore and sorry. As if you have failed already.


The truth is you have.

Not because you weren’t working hard enough and not because you weren’t strong enough, but because you were.

And that’s why you need to know this.



Why Your Body Is Like A Formula 1 Car


Your body is like a Formula 1 car.

Speeding forward 100+ miles per hour on a training circuit.

When you are speeding however, you need to keep in mind that you are using fuel, wearing down your tires and heating up your engine.


That’s why even the fastest going people on this planet need to have a pitstop every now and then. To refuel, to change tires and to possibly deal with technical issues.

And what will happen if they don’t?

Not only do they end up losing the race, they actually guarantee they won’t win.


A ‘speedster’ like you, might hate the pitstop.

And just like a Formula 1 car driver – if given the decision – you’d rather keep going and make that extra lap than to actually stop.

But in the back of his mind even the Formula 1 car driver knows that eventually his current equipment will only bring him so far.

So just like him, you need a pitstop every now and then.


In the short term, speeding without a pitstop might give you a lead position.

In the long term it will guarantee you the ‘last position’.

The question is not whether you will crash, but when?


That’s why you are at your weakest after a workout.

Essentially, your capacity to perform has decreased.

If you’ve done a good workout, you are not at your strongest, but weakest.

You start off with an ‘original performance baseline’.

Due to your training however, you wear down your body.



Calisthenics-Rest-Bar-WorkoutSource: Overcoming Gravity



Your strength gains happen in between training sessions in rest periods, actually when you are NOT working out or reducing the intensity.


Because your body is an adaptive organism.

When you workout you force adaptation through intensity and volume.

This damage is repaired to such an extent that it does not happen any more in the future.

After every pitstop, your body basically builds an extra layer of protection.


The results?

You become stronger, because your ‘original baseline strength increases’.

This is a ‘positive training effect’.



How To Program For A Positive Training Effect?


This at the same time means that if your body has adapted to a certain amount of intensity.

It does not need to change, it’s capable of dealing with it so why should it spend more energy on building more muscle or strength?

Therefore doing the same thing over and over will not make you stronger, your body needs something which is referred to as ‘progressive overload’.

You need to make the race more difficult periodically.


This means that you increasingly add a bigger load to your body.

The danger of ‘progressive overload’ is that you can ‘overload your system of repair’.

Racing too fast for too long.

You break down your body at a faster rate than you can repair your body.

This results in a ‘negative training effect’.


If you are a 80-year-old grandma in a Suzuki Swift, going 10 laps without a pitstop might be possible.

If you are a 25-year-old daredevil in a 700 horsepower car, going 10 laps without a pitstop might not be the best idea.

Simply because the amount of wear and tear you place on your car is numerous factors higher than your 80-year old equivalent.


So the difference  between getting or not getting results is balancing on this threshold of challenging and going fast, while at the same time giving yourself plenty of pitstops.

Allowing you to have ‘sufficient adaptation’ while at the same time allowing your body to repair.

This process of repair/adaptation is called ‘supercomensation’.



Calisthenics-ProgrammingSource: Overcoming Gravity



So your progressive overload needs to give your body enough time to supercompensate.

Not enough time equals undercompensation.

Now you know why racing more for longer periods of time with less rest is not always better.

That’s why you should take ‘all day every day’ with a pinch of salt.

Contrary to popular belief, racing without pitstops will not get you from point A to B in the fastest possible way.

Knowing how to balance between positive adaptation and overtraining is essential.


In training terms ‘a pitstop’ is referred to as ‘deload’.

Which basically comes down to training at a sub maximum capacity for a period of time.

This means, you don’t lose your gains, because you are still stimulating your body.

At the same time your body is able to supercompensate.


One of the most common reasons for reaching a plateau as a calisthenics beginner is a lack of ‘supercompensation’.

And an overload of ‘depletion’.



What Is The Best Way To Deload?


By now you might be wondering, so how do I overload while at the same time allow my body to ‘supercompensate’?

You aren’t the first one to ask this question.

Basically there are a few easy things which you can do.


Firstly you can reduce the amount of reps by 50% during a period of 7 days.

Don’t go for failure.

Go for perfect form with ease.

No failure, just challenge.


Secondly, reduce the mount of workout days for a certain period of time.

Instead of working out 5 days a week, add an additional rest day.

Give yourself some extra time, go for a walk, do a morning dance.



How Often Should You Deload?


Every time you feel that you are becoming weaker every workout over a longer period of time.

Every time you are planning to increase your intensity after a period of progressive overload.

Generally, periodically after 4-6 weeks of intensity.


Too many beginners make this mistake.

Don’t be the next one.

You cannot force more results than your body is capable of naturally.


It’s easy to force adaptation when you start, simply because your body is so ‘underloaded’.

Over time however as you force yourself too much, you might end up causing a ‘negative training effect’.

Eventually this usually results in wrist or shoulder injuries instead of recovery.

At that point, introducing a ‘deload’ can actually be the best thing you can do.

Far better than working out at maximum intensity in an attempt to force a breakthrough.



Program For A Positive Effect And Finish The Race The Right Way


Those first ‘beginner’ results are great to get you going.

But it’s through consistency and patience that the real magic happens.

You know it, it’s the only thing that will get you across the gap between who you are and who you are destined to be.

The only thing that will allow you to cross that finish line.

Stop being too strong for your own good.


Accept that your body needs time.

Only the strong can accept their weakness.

That’s what makes them strong.


Keep walking along that edge.

Balance on the line.

Stop trying to finish fast. Finish STRONG.


Beast Mode ON!




19 thoughts on “How You Become Stronger With Extra Rest

  1. Funny enough this happend to me a while back when i started working out alot and at the moment thought 8 hours of sleep would do it and it was working first 2 weeks then i just felt tired didnt feel that energy to go workout like when i started but i said i wouldnt stop so i kept doing it for the reminder of the month and just ended up exhausted.
    thanks for the article.

    1. Hey Norberto,

      Thanks for your comment!

      This is definitely a very common thing I hear from a lot of people and I’ve experienced it myself too. I’m happy this resonated with your experience and hope is has given you some valuable insights into preventing this in the future.

      Beast mode ON!

  2. Hey Rich!

    Nice post, i think this explains a lot about me in the last 3 months.
    Especially because i’m working out every single day, instead of every second day.
    Upper body one day, abs and legs the next day, and repeat.
    I have noticed in the past, that if i went without working out for about 3 days or just less intense, i kinda felt stronger when i went back to working out again or at a higher intensity.
    Although i actually just thougth that it was just mentally i felt stronger, but i guess not.

    1. Hey Jakob,

      First of all, thanks for your comment!

      It’s great to be motivated, but there is indeed always this fine line between rest and training.

      Haha, I know it feels very counterintuitive, but indeed having some rest every now and then randomnly can all of a sudden mean a big strength increase.

      Chances are your body just needed that little bit of extra time to recover, that’s why I usually recommend beginners to not go for 7 days straight away, but to build it up slowly.

      Over time your recovery rate will improve and with that improvement you’ll eventually be able to increase the intensity, still…this always included plenty of rest to balance it out ;).

      I’m happy you found some useful stuff in the article and always happy to hear from you!

      Beast mode ON!

  3. Hey Rich !

    Right help at the right time.
    I just entered in my 3rd month of training where we need to combine our routines. Since yesterday, I was feeling exhausted and today I took a break. I was wondering why I am feeling so low and then suddenly your post came. Thanks bro ! Keep up the good work.

    beast mode on !

    1. Hey Abheshekk,

      Thanks for your comment! Sometimes you find the right piece of information at the exact right time ;).

      I’m happy you found what you were already looking for. Give yourself some more time every now and then.

      Those results will come, really.

      Great to hear from you as always and thanks for the support!

      Beast mode ON!

  4. Good post!
    Sounds like obvious but when you see other guys pushing the limits at the park is hard to give a step away. That’s why it’s so important to respect your body and hear the signs that send you.

    Enjoy the process.

    1. Hey Carlos,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I completely agree and it’s definitely something which also happens to me more than I’d like to admit :P.

      A big part of becoming stronger is definitely learning to listen and respect your body.

      Same to you bro!

      Beast mode ON!

  5. Took a deload week. Just 6 wo. Lost another 1kg and are down now to 23℅ bodyfat. Managed to do 6chinups, clean. Pullups are a different thing.
    Plan to Rest the whole weekend. Regards.

  6. Hey Rich I had a question. I’ve been using the mad barz app for most of my workouts and training the app shows a percentage of how much you rest and how much you work out of 100%. I was wondering if you had and opinions or thoughts of what the ideal ratio between rest and work time is.

    1. Hey Brandon,

      As with everything there is no ‘1 ideal thing’ for every situation.

      It all depends on your goals. More endurance? Reduce rest in between reps and sets to a minimum, with a high rep range. More strength, increase rest to about 2-3 minutes (or even more), with a low rep range. Both? Stick to between 60-90 seconds with an average rep range.

      Additionally it depends on the muscle groups, different muscle groups have different compositions.

      But to give an easy answer 60-90 seconds between exercises would suit most people for hyperthrophy.

      Beast mode ON!

  7. These articles are really helpful. Thank you Rich. I have heard the term “Deload”; but never used it. I am feeling exhausted after my 3 weeks intense-workout. I think it is time for a “Deload”- for this week. ))

  8. Hi Rich,
    I really like your posts. I was wondering if you can alternate calisthenic weight training and cardio workouts like cycling and swimming instead of restdays?

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