Some people swear by the idea that a week of rest after months of intense bodybuilding is advantageous. They claim that a week of nothing but food, sleep and relaxation yields noticeable muscle gain, as the body gets a chance to ‘catch up’.
It is true that a week of rest is sometimes necessary to facilitate muscle growth – but only if you have been overtraining. If you work out with a normal intensity and maintain a healthy diet, you will not get any benefit from a week of rest, as your body is getting what it needs. However, if you target the same muscle groups too frequently, you do not give it a chance to recover between workouts. This means that the micro tears in the muscle fibres are chronically present. If you reach this state it means you are overtraining, and you require a week to heal before your next weight lifting session. Symptoms of overtraining include fatigue and decreased performance in the gym.
Therefore, whilst it is true that a week of rest can give results, this is only the case if you were working out incorrectly by overtraining to begin with. You will never require the fabled rest week if you are allowing your muscles enough time to recover between consecutive workouts.