“Enough of this, I need to get horizontal” was a token phrase said by Klokov during our 2013 seminar tour with Ilyin and Polovnikov.

Being a professional weightlifter is a full-time gig. The hours spent every day in the gym is only a part of what’s needed to improve. When we see top athlete’s YouTube or Instagrams, we only see their lifting, not the 12-18 hours per day they spend laying down.

Professional weightlifters are not on their feet or at a desk 8 hours a day -they train, and they rest to conserve energy and recover from the stress of training. It’s the balancing act between these two components that enables athletes to grow at the fastest rate.

Those of us who can spend most of our training days “horizontally” outside of the gym can recover more, train more, and get more out of the work put in. This is passive rest – not doing anything, ideally laying down.

On training days, passive rest is ideal. However on off days, having too much passive rest is bad. Studies have shown that passive rest for more than a single day reduces strength, speed, endurance and technique in athletes. We only need passive rest on training days, when we’ve exerted all of our energy on training.

Passive rest for one week (complete passive rest), within or after a training cycle will show a reduction in strength by 15.1 +/- 0.65% (Sourse: AN Vorobyov, 1988, T Hetinger, 1966). Because of this, athletes are strongly advised against taking inactive vacations (or homecation) for more than 7-10 day, ever. After a passive break for 10 days, it may take up to 5-6 months of specialized training to regain the strength an athlete had before the break (Source: Vorobyov, 1989).

On days off within a training cycle and following a competition, when an athlete needs to rest physically and psychologically, it’s recommended to get active rest. Stretching, playing other sports, or lifting light weights will help to keep the body from adapting to a passive lifestyle. Active rest gets blood flowing and muscles working, while assisting with psychological and physical recovery from weightlifting-specific fatigue.

This week seems like the perfect time for me to write this post on rest. I’ve been training and working hard for months and have recently competed. Both my mind and body needed a break. I’m in Guanajuato Mexico, actively resting. To keep strength loss to a minimum, I’m keeping active by doing air squats and push-ups daily (and cartwheels).

To summarize: on training days, spend as much time as you can resting, ideally horizontally. On off days, stay active.

(Special thank to Boris Sheiko for providing the stats!)

Yasha Kahn
Weightlifter, coach and now: blogger. I've traveled around the world sharing my weightlifting knowledge and experiences. I look forward to the next adventure.
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