Christmas is just around the corner and it is a time when many hard training individuals take a much deserved break from the gym. Occasional periods of less intense exercise or even total rest can be a valuable part of your training strategy, allowing for physical and mental regeneration and a renewed enthusiasm when you hit the weights again.
But let's take it one step further; how can you maximise the effectiveness of your rest period?
One very effective (but very taxing) method is a planned period of over-reaching, also known as "super-accumulation". In short this involves a large but short term increase in overall training volume and intensity. By pushing your body harder than usual within sensible limits, then taking a full week of res, it is possible to kick back and relax during your holiday period and still make gains.
Here are some guidelines for doing this-
1- If you usually train 3 times a week, commit to 5 sessions for the next two weeks. If you normally train Monday/Wednesday/Friday for example, add sessions either on Tuesday and Thursday or Saturday/ Sunday, or any combination that fits your lifestyle. If you normally train twice a week, step things up to four sessions. You get the picture; do significantly more work than you're used to.
2- Use full body sessions. If you normally do some sort of body part split, switch to full body routines on each training day. This may not be ideal long term, but remember; the goal is to shock your body. Expect some muscle soreness in the first week.
3- If you're already very fit and used to hard training, you could consider two sessions a day. An effective method is to do heavier lifting in the morning (4-6 reps) and higher reps in the evening (12-15).
4- It should go without saying but you need to eat supportive foods if you want to try this method. If you're skipping breakfast and having soup for lunch then you're not ready yet! Get your protein in and eat regular, nutrient dense meals.
That's it! Again, this method is not for the faint hearted. It requires serious commitment and proper nutrition. But get it right and you earn some guilt free Christmas slobbing!