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Rest, where the magic happens

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Man and woman sat in deckchairs on a beach
December 10, 2022 Trevor Dias

"Schedule rest, recovery and recuperation, or your body will do it for you. However, it won't be at a convenient time.”

If you have read my other blog on resistance training, you will have seen me call out a common misconception:

Muscles don’t grow in the gym

Most people have a misconception that the gym is where you get stronger, your muscles grow, and your body composition changes. However, the gym has the opposite effect on your body. What you are doing in the gym is damaging, tearing down the muscles, and your body changes outside of this with good-quality rest & nutrition.

Now I will focus on the magical powers of rest and why it is essential to get this right. I think most don't, mainly due for two reasons:

One, It’s counterintuitive

Many people find it hard to comprehend how rest can aid us and make us grow, get stronger and adapt our bodies for the better. For almost everything we want to do or achieve in life, everyone has always told us that the only way to get it is with hard work, sacrifice and struggle. Most people take this mindset into training, which is why rest would not be considered a contributing factor.

Two, It's psychologically challenging

Due to that, we find it psychologically challenging - I know I do. Also, not only have our minds been pre-conditioned to apply the above to almost everything we do, but our personality types can affect it. For example, you may have OCD tendencies; you may have high levels of energy; you may have anxiety - all these, and many more, are psychological conditions which can mean it is challenging for someone to rest.

Once we understand and acknowledge the above, we can redefine the importance of rest and change our mindset and approach.

I believe we should categorise three types of rest:

Now we understand how imperative it is; we can embrace it and build it into a healthy lifestyle. However, rest is more complex than sitting on the sofa. To get the most out of it, I believe we should categorise three types of rest:

  1. Rest Intervals
  2. Micro Rest
  3. Macro Rest

Rest Intervals:

Rest intervals are anything you can measure in seconds, and it’s the time you take between each exercise set.

This one is the easiest to determine and consistent for the vast majority, especially if you follow my advice and are training for hypertrophy. You should take between 60 - 90 seconds between each set; ideally, you will use a timing device (watch, training app etc.) to ensure it is precise, accurate and consistent with all your training. Do this simple thing every time between your sets, and you will be well within the optimum - guaranteed!

Micro Rest

Micro rest is anything you can measure in hours or days; it’s time you take between training sessions.

If you have read my blogs on the TIME equation and How often you should train, you will already have the perfect training schedule specific to you and the corresponding micro rest between each training session, which will be from 24 to 78 hours between each session.

Macro Rest:

Macro rest is anything you can measure in days or weeks; it’s time after a consistent training period over weeks. You are tearing and breaking down muscles, lifting a weight, and all that damage compounds over time. Your mental capacity to focus and push yourself in the gym deteriorates. This means your body and mind need an extended time to rest and recover, one whole week after every ten to twelve weeks of consecutive training. And this does mean rest, no training at all, not even lightweight. If you are also on a calorie deficit, then have a rest from that too:

  • Eat at maintenance - unfortunately, that does not mean rest from good quality, nutritious foods.

  • No training whatsoever - no matter how fresh and mentally prepared you feel.

  • Lots of walking - keep moving, grab an audiobook, a good podcast or a playlist and get lots of fresh air.

If you stick to these simple tips and tricks, you will never risk burning out; you will continually progress and have the physical and mental energy to push hard in each session.

Rest table:

Training schedulesRest IntervalMicro RestMacro Rest
3 times per week60 - 90 seconds48 - 72 hours1 week
4 times per week60 - 90 seconds24 - 48 hours1 week
5 times per week60 - 90 seconds24 - 72 hours1 week

Don't believe me, here are the stats from my last week's rest period:

Before Macro RestAfter Macro Rest
Resting Heart Rate4340
*Sleep Score8086
*Average Sleep time7 hours 13 minutes7 hours 21 minutes
**Strength (pull-ups)

18 (10kg weighted)

24 (10kg weighted)

* To be clear, I still went to bed and woke up at the same time; this demonstrates my actual time asleep during that period improved.

** Pretty much across every exercise/ lift, the number of reps increased or the weight increased.

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