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Training Less for More Gains?!

Training Less for More Gains?!

Sometimes, less is more

Yes, it seems oxymoronic, however, when looking to optimize training sometimes less can mean more. More time, more food, more recovery, more quality training, and more gains. In a meritorious sport such as bodybuilding, it is often assumed more is better; this can be the case but as with most things in life there is a time and a place for everything, and when misguided, good intentions pave the way to poor results as it creates an abundance of overtraining. When properly implemented however, not training can be just as important to your development as training.

So, when is too much? Simple, when you are not getting as much bang for the buck possible in exchange for your time spent at the gym. Yes, making the effort of showing up and being consistent holds value, but as we know, practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice does. Simply showing up and going through the motions is not enough. Though you may be working at your hundred percent for that day, because of improper structuring, that effort may be less than what it could have been in comparison if accompanied with proper rest, diet, and recovery.

NOT Always Optimal

NOT Always Optimal

Anecdotally, the best example I can think to demonstrate this process is arm training three days in a row, or in the period it takes to recover from the initial workout, typically up to a week. Ideally, on day one your muscle is at its full potential, enabling full effort and focus into its activation and development when training. If properly (s)trained, another day is (likely) not required, but sometimes can be beneficial; this is because often on day two, the primary muscles used on the first day tend to fatigue quicker. This fatigue allows for better utilization of smaller muscles in the same movement chains from the day or session prior while moving less weight. However, on Day 3 over training becomes seemingly inevitable, as the entirety of the body parts trained (starting at the brain) but has restricted time to recover. This lack of recovery, in turn, limits the potential benefits of a training session, both in the long and short term.


As if the workout weren’t enough, the metabolic boost that comes with it (and stimulant based pre-workouts) can quickly become catabolic if the body doesn’t have the resources it needs to recover fully. Consequently, a less than optimal training structure will hinder your gains, even calorically. Hence, bodybuilder’s such as Cedric McMillan have been known not even to bother training on days they know their diet has been less than optimal. The additional calories stored eventually add up, sparing protein for muscle development instead of energy. 

While short-term applications of what many would consider overtraining can occasionally have benefits, this is only when properly applied, at which point this wouldn’t even be considered overtraining; instead, just an unmaintainable stage within a periodized system of overall development. Obviously, we want to get the most from our physiques, and under training should be considered one of the biggest ‘sins’ a bodybuilder can commit. But if it’s ‘over’ or ‘under’ training, the result is the same, less than optimal development of a physique.

“The guy working at 80% for ten years always beats the guy working at 110% that breaks down over three.”


-By Waylon Martin

Bodybuilding News

Train Less More Gains_Phil Heath

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