Why You Should STOP Training if You Want Better Strength and Muscle Gains

Use deload to your advantage.

This is why you should stop training if you want better strength and muscle gains.

Sounds counterproductive, right? But you will soon learn why that isn’t with the help of Mike Israetel.

Dr Mike Israetel, PhD in Sport Physiology and co-founder of Renaissance Periodization, is a well-respected professor in the bodybuilding community. He doesn’t only talk about workouts and fitness tips, he often talks about the science behind it and uses his knowledge to help people make better choices for their health.

See below what he had to say.

Why You Should STOP Training if You Want Better Strength and Muscle Gains

How come you should stop training to get better strength and muscle gains? With the concept of deloading.

As you train more and more, your body adapts more and more to what it is going through. While you increase in strength, endurance and muscle size, unfortunately, fatigue also accumulates. What does that mean? With more time that passes, the micro-tears on your muscles don’t heal completely, they accumulate and increase your chances of injury.

This is when deload can help you get stronger and increase your muscle size.

A deload refers to a period of reduced training intensity or volume designed to provide the body with a chance to recover and adapt from previous periods of intense exercise. It is commonly used in fitness and strength training programs to prevent overtraining, minimize the risk of injury, and promote long-term progress.

woman smiles in fitness gear with abs musclesSource: dusan jovic on Unsplash

During a deload week or phase, individuals typically reduce the overall workload, such as lifting lighter weights, decreasing the number of sets or repetitions, or taking more frequent rest days. The specific deloading strategy may vary depending on the individual’s goals, training program, and fitness level.

“High levels of fatigue tend to turn up your catabolic machinery that burns muscle as you walk around, train, sleep, eat, anything. It burns muscle all the time,” Israetel says.

As you train each week, you tend to grow less muscle every time your body is stimulated and you grow less muscle throughout the rest of the day. If you don’t address this fatigue threshold and have it at a high volume for a consistent period, you can be doing as much work as you’ve ever done, but you get almost no gaining because you have become a muscle-burning machine, instead of a muscle-building machine.

Deloading allows the body to recover from accumulated fatigue, repair damaged tissues, replenish energy stores, and restore the central nervous system. It can also help break through plateaus and prevent stagnation in performance by giving the body an opportunity to adapt and super compensate.

The duration and frequency of deload periods depend on various factors, including the individual’s training intensity, volume, and recovery capacity. Some individuals may schedule a deload week every four to six weeks, while others may implement shorter deload phases within their training cycles.

Watch the video below from Dr Mike Israetel to fully understand why you should stop training if you want better strength and muscle gains. He also explains how to properly deload to achieve that.

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Building muscle, also known as muscle hypertrophy, is a process that involves a combination of resistance training, proper nutrition, and adequate rest. Here are the basics of building muscle:

  1. Resistance Training: Engaging in regular strength training exercises is crucial for stimulating muscle growth. Resistance exercises include weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, and resistance machine workouts. Focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and overhead presses.
  2. Progressive Overload: To promote muscle growth, progressively challenge your muscles by gradually increasing the intensity, volume, or difficulty of your workouts over time. This can be achieved by lifting heavier weights, performing more repetitions, or reducing rest periods between sets.
  3. Proper Nutrition: A balanced and nutrient-rich diet is essential for muscle growth. Ensure you consume enough protein to support muscle repair and synthesis. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based sources like tofu and tempeh. Additionally, consume an adequate amount of carbohydrates for energy and healthy fats for hormone production and overall health.
  4. Caloric Surplus: To build muscle, you generally need to consume more calories than you burn (caloric surplus). This provides the necessary energy and nutrients for muscle growth. However, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid excessive weight gain or relying solely on unhealthy foods. Aim for a moderate caloric surplus to minimize fat gain while maximizing muscle growth.
  5. Sufficient Rest and Recovery: Muscles grow and repair during periods of rest, so allow adequate time for recovery between workouts. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support optimal recovery. Additionally, consider incorporating rest days into your training program to avoid overtraining and prevent injuries.
  6. Consistency and Patience: Building muscle takes time and dedication. Consistency in your training and nutrition is key. Stick to a well-designed workout program and maintain a balanced diet over the long term. Be patient and understand that muscle growth is a gradual process that may take weeks or months to see noticeable results.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or certified trainer before starting any new exercise or diet regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or specific goals in mind.

Muscle fatigueSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

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Low testosterone levels can have several negative effects on a person’s physical and emotional health. Here are some of the reasons why low testosterone levels can be bad:

  • Reduced muscle mass and strength: Testosterone is critical for building and maintaining muscle mass and strength. Low levels of testosterone can lead to a loss of muscle mass and weakness.
  • Decreased bone density: Testosterone plays a key role in maintaining bone density. Low levels of testosterone can lead to decreased bone density and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Testosterone is important for maintaining sexual function in men. Low levels of testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction and reduced libido.
  • Mood changes: Testosterone can affect mood and emotional well-being. Low levels of testosterone can lead to depression, irritability, and fatigue.
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease: Testosterone plays a role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Low levels of testosterone have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, such as fatigue, reduced muscle mass, decreased libido, and mood changes, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and explore treatment options.

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