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tksdaddy's picture
Weight training rest periods

Hi all,

This will probably be a quick one but something that has bothered me for a while.

General advice on weight training seems to be to have at least a days reast in between sessions to recover as this is where your body adapts to the stimulus of training, and training too often can actually overwork and weaken the muscles.

But what does "rest" actually mean? Rest purely form weights? Can I still train martial arts on "rest" days (according to my physical condition post weights session of course) without detrimental effect to what I am trying to achieve by training weights? Would I have to train martial arts at reduced intensity for a day, or can I hit it full blast as usual? Or does it mean rest outright, no physical exertion?  I can't see this really being the case as nothing would ever be achieved outside of the gym! But I don't want to risk overdoing it.  I'm looking to ease in gently anyway, but I wish to start as I mean to go on, by doing things correctly!



Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Mike,

The trouble is that many of the weight training programs found in books, on websites etc is that they are not put together for martial artists. When they say “rest”, they generally mean doing nothing … which is fine for bodybuilders and dedicated weight lifters, but not good for us martial arts types as we have our more important combative training to do.

The way I work it is that I always have Wednesdays off (in preparation for the tough group session on Thursday) and another “floating rest day”. I’ll take that day when and if I need it. I’ll therefore train 5 or 6 days a week. I did not train yesterday as I was too tired to do anything meaningful (cumulative effect of prior training and busy schedule) so I’ve had that floating day and can’t have another this week.

With regards to the weights, I like at least a couple of days between sessions. However, I have no problem training in other ways on those days. The key is to vary your training. On the days following the weights, I’ve had no problem working the bag, running, sparring, practising kata, etc.

This old article of mine may be helpful:  http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/article/benefits-strength-training

All the best,


Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

I've used to following format for years and find it helpful:

(From Tom Kurz Stretching Scientifically)

Monday - Skills

Tuesday - Power

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday - Skills

Friday - Strength

Saturday - Stamina

I'm 55 this month so that might not be enough for a youngster.  It keeps me feeling sharp though without the exhaustion I thought was helpful in my youth.


Gavin Mulholland
Gavin Mulholland's picture

I tend to train weights during the day with Karate in the evenings.

If possible, I train five days straight which gives me the weekends off.

I do try to 'rest' by working upper body and lower body on alternate days and as such rest the muscle group that was worked the day before.

I'm pretty sure there will be a miuch more efficient way of training but to be honest, I'm happy with it and it keeps me interested.

paul.gy's picture

tksdaddy wrote:
But what does "rest" actually mean?

In order to understand what rest means, perhaps you first need to understand how your muscles get bigger.

Anyone that has broken a bone will tell you the Doctors tell you that once it has healed, far from being weaker than before, your bone will in fact be stronger.  This is because as part of it’s natural self defence mechanism, you body will not just repair the bone, but repair the bone then add more extra layer of bone where the break occurred so that it won’t break again under then same force.

It is the same with the muscles.  When you go to the gym and weight train you are actually tearing the muscle, which is why you can’t lift the weight anymore, and it hurts like hell the next couple of days.  The body will then, as with bones, not only repair the muscles, but add more muscles tissue.  This is why your muscles get bigger, and over time you can lift more weight or do more reps.

However, your body can only repair the muscles when it is not being used during your day of rest, which why people (not on steroids) train one day and rest the next.  So if you did bench press on a Monday, and then on Tuesday went to a karate class and spend an hour going up and down the trainign hall punching fresh air, your body would still be able to repair itself.  If however the day after you did bench press you spent an hour at home doing press ups then your muscles are not being rested and so would not repair (and therefore grow) properly.

I hope this helps.