We talk a lot about getting the most out of our work outs and how to really Dig Deep and Bring it — but did you know that working out is actually NOT when our muscles grow and get stronger? Working out breaks them down. The intense workouts put stress on our muscles, which cause them to respond by growing. But they don’t (and CAN’T) grow when we are actually working out. Its when we REST that our muscles grow and get stronger, as the damage we did to them during our workout is repaired and healed. During the repair process, our muscles respond by getting stronger and growing to enable them to handle the next workout better.
But what if we never take the rest we need? Then our muscles can’t recover, can’t get stronger, and can’t grow! That’s no good!!!
So what does “rest” look like? It takes several forms, all of which are important to getting the most bang for your workout buck.
First, rest obviously takes the form of sleep. At night, while you are asleep, your muscles get the most rest, recovery, and growth. If you are depriving yourself of sleep, it will not only make you feel lousy and deplete your energy, but it can slow your results. Most people need 7 hours of sleep to function best. Some like more (some like a lot more), but honestly that’s just a habit more than a “need” for sleep. Some can actually get by with less than 7 hours — studies have found that 10% of people can actually function with no ill effects on 5 hours of sleep with no accumulated sleep deprivation symptoms — but that was ONLY 10%! Many of us like to think we are in that 10%, but in fact we are sleep deprived and hurting our body’s ability to run at 100%.
Trust me, getting 7 hours of sleep takes work for me. I get up at 4:30 every morning to read, workout, and answer questions that were posted on my website overnight. So that means I need to be lights out at 9:30 — that doesn’t always happen. And with 5 small kids, there are nights where I’m up once, twice, three times a lady …. (bad song reference — maybe I’m sleep deprived!).
But I monitor how much I’m sleeping, and if I have a couple short nights (5-6 hours), I make an extra effort to make it up by getting 8 hours for a couple nights, because sleep deprivation is an accumulated symptom. The longer you go, the more run-down you’ll get.
Second, rest takes the form of recovery time between lifting workouts. This is the good old “48 hour rule” — the rule that plays havoc with our hybrid schedules LOL! Simply put, if you do resistance lifting for your biceps on Day 1, then your biceps need to rest on day 2. You can work them again on Day 3 (48 hours later). This is why most hybrid schedules (and the original P90X schedule) will alternate lift days and cardio days. Lifting on consecutive days can be done if it does NOT overlap the muscle groups (one good example is the workouts “Chest/Shoulders/Tris” and “Back/Bis” — those can be done on consecutive days). But you can’t do pullups one day, then curls as part of the next day. And you can’t do pushups one day, then tricep work the next. You may think that by training harder, lifting more often, that you will build more muscle, but the opposite is true! You will actually be robbing your muscles of their chance to get stronger. Follow the 48 hour rule!
By alternating lift and cardio days, as well as taking a rest day or an ab-only day, it also gives your joints and ligaments some good spacing between being worked hard. An ideal workout calendar for me is 3 lift days, 2 cardio days, and 2 “other” days (like yoga, abs only, stretch, etc). This keeps my knees and ankles (yes, I’m an old man LOL!) from getting sore, keeps my muscles from wearing down, and still keeps me pushing play and seeing results every day.
Also, it’s important every few weeks to rest from your regular routine. Is the recovery week necessary? I get asked that a lot. And I totally get it. I remember when I was on my first round, and I was so fired up to get maximum results in a 90 day period that I wanted to push and push and push myself to the limit. The idea of taking a “recovery week” did not appeal to me. Why not just keep lifting hard? Wouldn’t that give me better results?
Well, I trusted in what the smart folks at Beachbody designed, so I took the recovery week, and I learned a couple things:
#1 — The recovery week is actually a tough week! It’s not a bunch of sitting around and stretching. Core Synergistics is an hour long, and it’s tough! The cardio is a little easier without Plyo on the schedule, but it still gets the heart rate up and the sweat flowing.
#2 – Giving the major muscle groups a week off actually gets them stronger, fully reinvigorated, and ready to take it up a notch as you start the next phase. I was shocked with how much stronger I was coming out of the recovery week.
I will always take my recovery weeks. While I love pushing myself, I must remember that muscles grow while resting, not while working. If I never give the muscles the extra rest they need after 3 weeks of hard lifting, my results will actually suffer! I know it sounds backwards, but it’s true.
It’s not just about the lifting. It’s about timing the workouts, timing the nutrition, and timing the supplements. So much goes into a successful physical transformation. And since the folks at Beachbody have put it into a complete plan for us, my advice is to follow their plan! Take the recovery week! Alternate lift and cardio days to rest the muscles. And supplement properly to refuel yourself and bounce back faster (with a post-workout supplement like Results/Recovery or something similar).
Don’t get me wrong, you can substitute, do more intense cardio (like Insanity, etc.), and create hybrids, but no matter what you develop as your training schedule, give your body those recovery weeks it needs and you’ll see better results in the end!
And what about taking time off between rounds? How long do I take between rounds, and what do I recommend?
Many will say to wait a week before going into the next round. I tried this after my first round and it didn’t work well for me. I felt I was losing momentum and rhythm. Since the final week of every round is a recovery week, that’s enough for me. I’ve always gone right back to the next round with no break. But if you feel your body needs a break for a few days, or even a week, that’s fine. Then get back at it!
So, should you bring it with every fiber of your being when you workout? ABSOLUTELY! Should you go as hard as you can? ABSOLUTELY! But should you also be smart enough to let your body heal from that assault and get stronger before you brutalize it again? You bet!
*Side note — cardio is a bit of a different animal. You aren’t doing cardio to build muscle. In fact, cardio won’t build muscle. So the 48 hour rule doesn’t apply to cardio. And in fact, you can do all the cardio you want (within reason). The key thing though, when I get asked about doing extra cardio, is to ask if the person has the TIME and the ENERGY to do the extra cardio. Do you like to jog in addition to P90X? Fine! If you have the TIME and the ENERGY. Do you play a sport? Fine! If you have the time and the energy. Do you want to swim, cycle, etc. in addition to the workouts. Fine! If you have the TIME and the ENERGY. We don’t want to let additional cardio wear out our ligaments and joints, and we don’t want to get run down to the point that our main workouts suffer. But if you aren’t having that problem, go ahead with extra cardio. I never did it myself. I didn’t have the time, and I decided to dial in my diet for max results so doing extra cardio to further burn calories wasn’t necessary. And I don’t believe extra cardio is necessary for any of you either. But if you like it, it doesn’t hurt a thing. Go for it!
I hope this makes sense and reminds you of yet another important aspect to maximizing your results!
Coach, would it be OK to do shoulders and arms tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday) and then to Chest and Back on Friday morning. Would that be too close to do those two workouts if I had about 36 hours rest between? Thanks
sam4717 That would be fine. A full day off between is enough. Yes it's not a complete 48 hrs, but you are close.
Hey Coach, I'm going to finish Day 63 of Insanity on Sunday and the very next day I will go straight into p90x. I'm super excited because I'm down to 14% BF and around 168lbs at 6ft when I use to be 180lbs and probably 18-20%bf (didn't get my caliper till later so I'm only guessing) I'm taking a look at the calendar I downloaded on your site and I noticed p90x Sundays have Rest/X-Stretch. I'm always use to having Sundays off on Insanity but I don't want to hinder progress by not doing my X-stretch. 1.My first question to you is for your first round did you rest on Sundays or did you do X-stretch? 2.Also will I be ok with just 1 set of let's say 20lb dumbbells or do I need resistance bands and different dumbbells as well? I'm 22 and on a budget so buying all the equipment and food I need is already draining my pockets a bit. I'm trying to make sure I have at least the necessities to complete my workout and fat shredder 1700 plan. I'll be able to afford shakeology at least by Day 30 of p90x although I've currently been drinking my GNC amplfied wheybolic extreme 60 (them going from 44.95 to 72 bucks didn't help but I can't complain) Thanks for the advice Coach! Notleb
Noetleb, nice plan man! You are going to love P90X. I did X-stretch some weeks and no others. If you take a complete rest, that won't hinder your progress. For dumbbells, you will need a little bigger range (or you can get bands). Keep a close eye on Craiglist and you should be able to find a good deal on dumbbells or an adjustable set. BRING IT!!
I went on a 25 mile bike ride after school at 4:00 pm. My legs are a little tired. Do you think it is ok to do legs and back at around 5:0 am tomorrow? Or will it not let me recover. I take a rest day Rachel week. Thanks
Sam, you should be ok. Riding will stress your legs differently than lifting. You may be sore, but you should be able to get after it.
On days I do the p90x lifting videos I usually do a mini workout of the same group in the evening. Is that ok as long as after that I take a brake the next day and then lift the day after that? Or will doing a little extra in the evening of the same day prevent me from recovering? Thanks
Sam, that is totally ok. I actually did something similar as well in the past. Just rest the next day.
For Cardio Recovery for Insanity do you think you could replace that with an hour of tennis? How do workout replacement work for insanity because every workout is always tackling your cardio?
Billy, subbing for Insanity really comes down to calories burned. I wouldn't sub for many workouts (as HIIT has so many advantages or steady state cardio). If you wear a HRM, just watch your calories burned.
It's week 6 for me, I had a recovery week in week 4 as normal. I'm doing fine in the workouts, the only real issues I see is the weird soreness in my back today that I didn't have yesterday (the other muscles have gotten better) and the oversleeping. I'm a bit tired today but I think it's just because I'm trying to kick my coffee habit so I'm not used to being without it. But I think I'll try to go for Back/Bis today and see how I am tomorrow (in regard to both the back soreness from pushups/pullups today and the general tired feeling). In regard to the concern on overtraining for the back (because of the pushups making the lats sore and then doing back and bis) I now realize that it's sort of analogous to chest/back being 2 days apart from shoulders/arms. Pullups work the biceps as well, then you do shoulders/arms 2 days later, even if your arms are sore from those pullups. Would you say it's the same thing here? The reason I ask is that in future situations I can be sure if I'm overtraining or not. Thanks!
Jeremy, it is the same time period with C/B and Shoulders and Arms. Yes, your arms and shoulders are all helpers on the Chest/Back day, but they are not receiving the main focus. And if you lift a 5 AM Monday, by 5 AM Wednesday it is 48 hours later.
Thanks, that's a relief. What I'm wondering is, why would I be getting more sore as time passes from the workout? My chest, shoulders and tris are less sore than yesterday, but my back is more sore now. I'm thinking that it's possible I'm overtraining, although I don't see why I would be because I'm not really doing any other physical activity aside from the P90X workouts. I'm only at a 100-200 caloric deficit also, I switched to the Energy Booster diet because I was lacking energy. I think I have some symptoms of overtraining though. I've noticed that I have trouble waking up in the morning (no matter when I go to sleep), among other small things, but it's pretty much the weird onset of soreness and fatigue. What do you think it could be from? Thanks!
Jeremy, have you had a recovery week in a while? If not, it might be time for one. Take it easy and give your body time to bounce back. You could be coming down with something too.
Hey coach, so the same deal as last week with the back and biceps workout happened again. Is it normal for my back to be sore at all after Chest/Shoulders/Tris? I did CST Monday afternoon (pushups were with weight on my back if that matters), felt fine yesterday and woke up this morning with my lats very sore, and have Back/Bis today. Would it still be ok to do the back and bis workout this afternoon (it would be about 48 hours or so, or maybe a bit more than that)? Thanks!
Jeremy, you do pull some with your lats when you get into plank on a push up. Possible with the extra weight, you are feeling extra sore. I would think it would be fine to be back/bi this afternoon. If you want more time between the two, try to do CST in the AM Monday, and B/Bi in the PM Wednesday.
Hey coach, in regard to yesterday's dilemma, I'm still pretty sore in the biceps and a bit sore in the back, so I think I'm going to do mainly assisted pullups with the latex band that attaches to the pullup bar (the one you stick your foot into and it helps you up). Figure it will help work my back (and even bis a bit too) but not so much that it would hinder recovery. Also would give my legs breaks in the workout so they can lift better. What do you think?
Hey Coach, this just hit me, but I wonder about the 48 hour rule for the reason that Back/Biceps is only 2 days apart from Legs/Back in the regular P90X schedule. So you are working your back 2x in 3 days. Is this ok? The reason that I ask is that I did Back/Bis yesterday afternoon, and since I'm going away for the weekend I need to do Legs/Back early tomorrow morning. So while it's technically 2 days, it's a lot less than 48 hours, and since my back is pretty sore today I'm not sure how that would affect overall recovery. Is this ok or should I modify and take out the back stuff from tomorrow's workout, maybe add in more sets of leg exercises or plyo moves? Thanks!
Jeremy, That is where the rule gets a little tight. Make the call tomorrow. If you are feeling good, go for it. If you know that you are still sore, mixing in some plyo moves would be great. You'd have a super legs day! The other option is to go light on your back. Do few reps or changed the pull ups to mainly assisted. You will still work your back, but not to the more extent.
Got it! Thanks coach for the fast reply! Oh and congrats for winning the Top Coach this year! You're awesome! God bless! Have a fun trip at Vegas! :-)
Hey coach. Sundays are my rest/recovery days. I usually sleep for very long hours from saturday to sunday. So i'm basically awake for around 10-12 hours on sunday. Is it okay if my calorie intake is approximiately 2/3 of what i usually consume?
Vee, that would be fine as you have a much lower caloric need. Be careful though going too low, you want to make sure you are getting fueled as you body recovers. Growth happens during rest.
Hey coach Wayne tomorrow will be day 14 for me and I was looking at the first recovery week and I was wondering if instead of doing yoga x can I do cardio x. If that's ok should I do it on both days or should I keep 1 yoga in.
I do a lot of biking, swimming and running. I try to mix them up and not do the same back to back days. I find myself wanting to workout every day of the week. Do you take one day off totally a week or is there a recovery workout you would reccomend so that I get a good calorie burn but do not burn out my legs? Thanks
Spencer mild to medium stress cardio days won't break down your muscles like lifting or plyo. If you want a recovery day, and still want to be active. Get out and hike, take an easy ride, play some pick up game of basketball with friends.
If I'm following a zig zag diet (eating more cals on lifting days than cardio days), should I consume the same calories for the Recovery week, or bump the overall calories down on a recovery week? Thanks!
Wish I could but what would be the second week is a Jewish holiday, and two of the restrictions are from using electronics and exercising. What I'm asking I guess is, is taking two weeks off actually counterproductive to my overall progress, even if I'd be active during the recovery weeks (core syn, kenpo, yoga etc)?
Can you swap the 2 weeks Jeremy, and do the workouts the first week and do recovery the second week, during the holiday? No, it's not the end of the world to take 2 weeks off from the scheduled workouts, but it will obviously be counterproductive to your overall progress.
Is two recovery weeks too much after 5 weeks of hard lifting for bulking? I have finals this week and am going away next week so I won't be able to do much these next 2 weeks.
2 recovery weeks isn't necessary. You should consider doing some workouts while you are on vacation. You can do some good cardio work with just the dvd's and if you have bands you can even do the resistance days.
Hey Coach, I have been taking in 2000 calories during my first three weeks of my hybrid P90X/Insanity. I am now on a rest week and was wondering if I should lower my calories or keep them the same. The workouts arent as strenuous so I won't be burning as much. What do you think? Also, I am following your schedule for this hybrid but I don't have the Insanity upper body weight training. I do have P90X2 though so what workout is best to substitute there. I can keep doing legs and back but I didn't know if that was the best thing. Thanks.
Hey Andrew, keep the diet the same on the recovery week. It's your body's chance to recover and recharge. And if you don't have the Upper Body Weight Training disc, you can chose another lift day of your choice (either the legs and back again or if you want variety, one of the X2 lift workouts would be fine).
I'm the guy who posted on the building muscle page also, so I'm planning to do a round of P90X to cut like you advised. So I realize that what would be week 5 I will be away, and what would be week 8 will be the same deal. So I'm thinking, would I be able to switch weeks 4 and 5 around in the program so week 5 is my recovery week and week 4 is the lifting of what would be week 5? Also, would it be ok to switch the normal P90X recovery week with the one from X2? Thanks!
Yes, Jeremy, switch your recovery weeks to make it easier for your travel. No worries. And sure, you can do the X2 recovery week if you like it better.
Awesome post! I'm not officially part of this team but I read the site's posts and realize this one speaks to me. With my job and school schedule, it's VERY difficult to get 7 hours. I actually will have to start waking up around 430 am daily next semester to get a workout in the morning too. Odds are I will get about 5-6 hours, and try to catch up on weekends. How does that sound?
What do you suggest if you skip a day or two and your totally off schedule. last week i did that and i missed yoga.
Hey Billy, don't skip workouts in the first place. That's my suggestion. However, if you find that you have missed a workout, pick up where you left off. Don't skip over it. Then you can make up for it by skipping your rest day (since you already used it!)
Hey coach, in reguards to recovery weeks, do you feel it is nessesary to do a recovery week after the first phase of P90X2? As you know the workouts aren't "EASY" but not exactly hard and almost impossible to do a lot of weight. Do you feel a recovery week would be benificial or do you feel it is ok to go into the next phase? Thank You!!
Hey Adrian, I didn't do a recovery week between foundation and strength phases. I went right into it. I took a recovery week between strength and performance phases though.
but u said earlier gluatmine is in protein that is true but not a significant amount to actually help u recover more isnt that correct i take it but i honestly cant tell any different i feel like im still sore, and sometimes i dont feel that ore i feel like i havent done anything
Hey Shane, your body needs about 10g per day of glutamine, so you have to check how much is in one serving of the whey protein you use and multiply by the number of servings per day that you use of it to determine if you are getting enough already. As for why you aren't gaining strength, I suspect it had a whole lot more to do with your diet last time than anything else. You lost weight, which is awesome! But you'll want to be sure you stick to the nutrition plan 100% this time around and if you'll learn about how to track nutrition, you can definitely get the most out of yourself. Click the "nutrition tips" tab and learn all the tips in that section. Get ready to bring it!
hey im shane i was just about to start p90x again i did it last year exactly when i was 256 with 37% body fat and i lost 20lbs but i never gained any strength in my push ups, or pull ups cardio wise i got better and now i started to w8 lift in the summer i lost another 30lbs then now im 189 im stuck cant lose a pound therefore wanting to start p90x but i want to build muscle i use gluatmine and creatine and protein but i just dont know why i can not gain muscle i gain some strength but then i plateau
Sorry coach. I think my post made you confuse. I was getting at recovering. See I did playo this week Tuesday and my legs are still busted. Did abs on Wed. My abs are still busted. Are you guys feeling the same way? When researched on Glutamine, there are marathon runners who claim that they do not even feel that they worked out on the next day because Glutamine helps them recover that fast but that doesn't work for me. Hence the question.
Ruwan, marathon runners are also in peak shape. How far into the program are you? Everyone gets sore and stays sore at first, and as they get in better shape the body can recover faster. Glutamine is already present in the R/R formula and in nearly all whey protein powders, so I doubt that you are lacking in glutamine. I think you are just not in great shape yet (no offense) :-).