Most of us know that we should take periodic breaks from training simply to let our minds and bodies rest and recharge, yet often we don’t do it. We will even train while on vacation. The reason? We fear that all of our hard-earned muscle will somehow wither away to nothing if we fail to continue our dedicated regimen of heavy training and eating every two hours around the clock. The recent case of IFBB pro Victor Martinez should serve as convincing evidence that our worries are totally unfounded.
Last October, Victor, who was born in the Dominican Republic, won the very first Arnold Classic Europe. On his return to New York, he was detained by United States Customs and Immigration officials due to visa problems and subsequently spent the next seven months in a New Jersey correctional facility while his fate was determined. Victor had no access to weights for the duration of his stay and for much of it could only do pushups and crunches.
As for food, he could have eaten plenty had he wanted to—but the fare was rich in sugars and fats, with a miniscule amount of protein. Rather than gain fat that he would have had to lose upon release from eating that crap, Martinez chose to eat very little. With no weight training, hardly any food and certainly none of the various supplements he would normally have been using, Victor was expected by many to waste away to nothing and emerge an emaciated skeleton. He entered prison at 265 pounds of shredded muscle, and people speculated as to how light he would be when he was freed—210, 200, 190 pounds?
As it turned out, Victor was 220 pounds and very lean the day the judge decided to allow him to stay in the USA for good. His arms and chest, always strong points, still looked quite beefy. Three weeks later I saw him in New York City. His bodyweight was already back up to 245 and rising. He was sure the extended break from heavy training and eating, while not by choice, had turned out to be a good thing for him. His motivation was through the roof, and the little nagging aches and pains any man who’s been training for many years deals with regularly were completely gone. His body was primed to grow again.
Let that be a lesson to those of us who bite our nails to the quick at the thought of not training or eating like a bodybuilder for more than a week. The muscle you worked so long and hard to acquire isn’t about to vanish—and whatever you do happen to lose will come right back. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you’ll make fresh new gains that never would have occurred otherwise. Who says we can’t learn anything from the pros?
Editor’s note: Ron Harris is the author of Real Bodybuilding—Muscle Truth From 25 Years in the Trenches, available at www.RonHarrisMuscle.com.