Sunday, April 19, 2009

Classic Physique Building and the "Art of Doing Nothing!"

(Photo above: Classic Physique Building Champs Steve Reeves and Clancy Ross)

We have said previously that the 3 pillars of classic physique building are: proper training, proper nutrition, and proper rest. And we could add a fourth pillar - persistance!

Of all these, proper training gets the most attention as we often talk about what kind of routines to do, how many sets and reps to perform, how much weight to use, etc. Proper nutrition is usually the next thing on our minds. We realize that we have to eat properly to make gains and so we are concerned with what kind of foods to eat, how many calories to consume, how much protein/carbs/fats to include, whether or not to take supplements and, if so, what kind, etc. Of course, we know that we won't make consistent gains unless we persist in our training.

But the "pillar" that gets the least attention is proper rest. But this one is perhaps the most important because without it, we cannot grow. Indeed, if we want consistent gains, then we must actually "work hard" at resting! That is, we must pay attention to the need for getting more rest and have a conscious strategy for doing so.

The general advice from the pre-roid Golden Age is to get more sleep (usually, anywhere from an extra 15 minutes to an hour or two is recommended) and also to take naps during the day. But here is the advice on Sleep, Rest, and Relaxation from Peary Rader (founder of Ironman magazine) in his Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System Course (circa 1956):

"Sleep is the great restorer. Without it, we could not live long. Man can go without food for from one month to three months, but he would soon die without sleep. Men who work at a heavy barbell program need lots of sleep. This need varies with different people. I have known barbell men who did well on 7 or 8 hours sleep per night. Most athletes require 9 or 10 hours. Only the pupil himself can determine the correct amount in his case. Sleep until you feel rested and refreshed. You cannot make proper gains without sufficient sleep."

"You should take every opportunity to rest and relax. Don't walk when you can ride. Don't stand when you can sit down. Don't run when you can walk. This applies to men who are working out with barbells and wish to gain weight. To gain weight you must CONSERVE ALL THE ENERGY POSSIBLE. It is advisable that you take a short nap in mid-day. Many prefer to do this after the mid-day meal. Take advantage of every opportunity to relax. Relaxation is in large part mental. You cannot relax your muscles unless your mind is at ease and relaxed. You must eliminate worry from your life. It helps matters not at all. It is just a parasite on your energy."

"Most barbell men find it easy to go to sleep or to relax. You should, however, practice relaxation at every opportunity. You can do this while seated, lying down, or at work. If you are working try to completely relax the muscles not used in your work. Be conservative of your movements. Do not make two movements if one will suffice. When seated do not allow yourself to fidget. Relax all your muscles. When lying down concentrate on relaxing every muscle in the body, even those of the face. Deep breathing often helps in this."

Well - there you have it! A bit of a longer post than usual. But, this is an important topic that should be at the top of your attention if you are looking to make gains. So "work hard" at getting proper rest! This will do more for your gains than worrying over the difference between this or that protein powder!


P.S. For your free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder (CPBzine) - a zine patterned after the pre-roid Golden Age mags of the 40's and 50's, just email your name and the name of your city, state (or province), and country to That's it!


Ibrahim said...

That´s one of the most important posts, that you made.
Too many people overlook this part of the game. But i find out that when i improve the quality of rest i feel a lot better. I think the most overlooked things in "Rest" are: To keep out worry & to relax every part of the body. When i relax my mind and body, when i´m lying in my bed, it´s like i´m taking a pill for sleep. It´s just happens in a short time and then i´m sleeping. Peary Rader says himself "Some barbell only need 7-8 hours sleep." I know every person is unique and needs to find out what works and what not.

But like it´s like a workout, i think Quality over Quantity.

Great post!!!

- CPB - said...

Hi Ibrahim,

Glad you liked the post! We agree that proper rest is incredibly important to muscle growth and this aspect of "training" is often overlooked.

So we would say that if your training seems right and your diet seems right and you are still not making gains, then look at your rest. If you don't rest enough (and quality is important too), then you simply won't gain!

Everyone is a bit different in terms of how much rest they need. So it is hard to lay down hard rules. But if you want to gain muscle mass, then it wouldn't hurt to get more (as well as better) rest than you are currently getting!

All the best,


Johnny G said...

I think the main reason the Golden Era guys got better sleep is because they had a healthier diet - to much junk in out diet - and these extreme low fat and low card diets can play havic with your sleep pattern