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I am 42 yr old and have been doing a simple bodyweight squat/push/pull routine every third day for a few months. Then I had not any time for exercising any more during 13 days. Today I came back to the gym, fearing I might have lose the little progress I had achieved.

To my surprise, my body is stronger, and I found myself repeating almost effortlessly the exercise variations and number of reps of my last workout 14 days ago. I then realized in the mirror that my triceps and shoulders are slightly more noticeable.

Well, what is the lesson one can learn here? Perhaps:

  • It is good to introduce one or two rest weeks rest every, say, two months?
  • Should I workout less often from now on, by introducing 3 rest days between consecutive workouts instead of 2?
  • What I did in those 13 days have kept me in shape? (a lot of playing with my 4 yr old daughter, including lifting her up in my arms, running and jumping all the time)

Any explanation or reference about systematic rest periods introduced in a strength program would be interesting.

(Remark, the day after: Ouch, feeling DOMS everywhere... If a fly landed on my pecs now, I could cry)

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If you're overtraining or near overtraining, taking a rest week (or two, or three) often results in a performance increase. Since you've had issues with overtraining before, this may be the situation.

Taking time off is not helpful in all situations but it can work. Many workout programs (for instance, 5/3/1) recommend a 'deload week' or a complete rest week every month or two.

See discussion of one recent study on this topic.

  • Thanks for the link! What would be your recommendation for me then? Should I have from now on 3 rest days between workouts instead of 2, or should I introduce one rest week every two months? Would it be effective to cycle the rest week for each exercise, so that I don't stop going to the gym? (i.e. I avoid squats on week 1 while performing the other exercises, then on week 2 I do squats again but avoid doing pushups and so on - sorry about my english). – Mephisto Jan 25 '15 at 14:33
  • It might be too soon to draw any conclusion, but I am trying with three days rest and it seems to work better for me. – Mephisto Feb 7 '15 at 18:53

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