Laying off and coming back

14.32 If you are overtrained to a frazzle and suffering from most if not all of the symptoms listed earlier, you need to have a layoff for a couple of weeks. A layoff means not only doing nothing in the gym, but not even going to the gym. Stay out of it. You need a complete rest. Even a bit of aerobic work, or just a few sets of curls, will delay your recovery. Stop exercising other than doing some stretching and leisurely walking. Sleep early and get up late whenever possible, eat well but not excessively, and get thoroughly rested. As you restore yourself, your training zeal will start to return.

14.33 Let this feeling of anticipation and vigor build up. Do not get back in the gym as soon as possible and risk having the fledgling zest extinguished. Let your enthusiasm build up until you are almost rabidly keen to train.

14.34 Now get back in the gym on a new program—one that is more abbreviated than your former one, and with reduced poundages. Take it easy, use immaculate exercise technique, and build back to your best working poundages over six weeks. Gradually let your body adapt to the reintroduction of increasing training poundages, without experiencing severe systemic fatigue and local soreness, or any of the warning signs of overtraining. While avoiding overtraining you will build up the conditioning needed to forge into new poundage territory in the final stage of the cycle. If you rush back you will return to the overtrained state.

14.35 And be sure to rest, sleep and eat better than you did when you got overtrained in your previous program. So long as your training program is reasonable, the major factor determining whether or not you gain from it is how well you satisfy the recovery component—rest, sleep and nutrition.

14.36 Taking a couple of weeks layoff as a response to chronic overtraining, and then returning to the same training program that got you overtrained in the first place, is not the way to go. You have to take action to ensure that you do not repeat the scenario that got you into a mess of overtraining in the first place. And even if you thought that what you were doing in the gym prior to the layoff was modest relative to what some people can grow on, if it overtrained you, then you must still cut back.

14.37 Forget about what others can gain on. What matters most to you and your training is what you can gain on. Always remember that reducing training volume and frequency nearly always produces more gains, both for hard gainers and for not-so-hard gainers.

14.38 Never continue with a training program that produces symptoms of overtraining, no matter how little you may be training relative to elite bodybuilders. What matters in your personal training is what works for you. Overtraining will not make your muscles grow!

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