Stop Exercising so Much on “rest Days”
The training days in your exercise program are simple: you just do the workout. Then, on “rest days,” you feel like a lost duckling. Do you run on a treadmill? Or maybe make a lighter weight ? Riding a unicycle uphill sounds nice. How about this: try giving your body a break.
“Rest” is often misunderstood
There is a reason why rest days are deliberately woven into training programs. In fact, rest is essential to progress. When you exercise – especially when you do really intense things like preparing for a marathon or lifting weights – you damage your muscle fibers , which sometimes leads to very intense soreness . And it’s truly the rest and recovery that allows you to rebuild your muscles, get healthier, and get even closer to Bruce Banner’s status.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) defines a rest day as a day without exercise , when you do not train your body. A day without training seems easy, but on the other hand, the meaning of the word “not difficult” can be interpreted.
Some people interpret this as a license to cheat day or just inaction – the latter of which I actually encourage if you are already doing too much. I used to work with people for whom weekends meant activities that were the exact opposite of relaxation. They could go for a “fast run” that ended up being eight miles; or do HIIT workouts right after squats and deadlifts . This is in addition to training five to six days a week, sometimes twice a day. These are pretty busy days of rest.
These are edge cases, of course, but the urge to be extreme in fitness is more common than you might think.
Not getting enough rest hurts you in the long run.
Have you heard the saying, “No pain, no gain,” or “Pain is a weakness that leaves the body.” When you extol a sore and aching body as part of fitness, it’s much harder for you to forgive yourself for having a life and skipping a workout at the gym or screwing up. And that tends to lead to more sabotage (overeating or falling completely off the fitness van).
Even worse, if you exercise intensely every day (or something like that) to one degree or another, your body becomes jaded.
Ideally, your fitness cycle should be like this: train, recover, profit, repeat. Some of the recovery is needed so that you keep this cycle over and over and see these results in the long term. But remember that you are (probably) not only exercising. You’ve got a life, a job, a family, Game of Thrones spoilers, and a host of other stressors. All of these will affect your ability to recover from exercise.
And let’s not gloss over the fact that fitness is 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental. I know I spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve my workouts, what to do to get the most out of them, the “right amount” of reps and sets , what I’m going to eat after the stripe on these socks matches the color of my shorts. Phew, damn it, I could take a break from exercise from time to time.
All of these stressors will have a mixed effect not only on your workout, but also on other areas of your life. A few extra strenuous activities, and there is nothing to worry about. But by the time you are truly rested, it may be too late: you are burned out. As a result, your motivation and energy level will suffer greatly; you will get dim or no results; you make yourself more prone to injury; or worse, you start to view exercise as a chore.
Rest doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing.
At the same time, many people have told me that deliberate rest would be too destructive for their “hot” training series. That is, they are stuck on the idea that taking the time to rest will ruin their momentum and make it much more difficult for them to train again.
If this is you, you don’t have to completely stop. Instead of being completely still, you can engage in so-called “active recovery” while you are still moving, simply by allowing your body to recover. ACE and many coaches recommend doing some form of movement, but advise that it be light on the body. Here are some ideas on how this might look:
- Do some mobility work : Mobility refers to how well your joints and body move . If you sit at a desk all day, you can probably work on your mobility to improve your posture and range of motion (such as in your upper back and hips). Plus, better mobility can also improve performance in the gym. Rest days are a great opportunity to practicelight mobility and flexibility . Yoga or foam riding can be part of this regimen.
- Practice Technique: Dan John , a veteran power and thrower from Burlingame, California, once said, “If it’s important, do it every day. If it doesn’t matter, don’t do it at all. ” Obviously, it is important to do something better. So, whether you are learning a new exercise in weightlifting or trying to improve your running gait, use a rest day to practice. If you are doing weightlifting, I recommend using a broom instead of a barbell. Lots of reps, even with a barbell, can tire you out.
- Do cardio (only if you want): You were probably told to just do cardio on machines on your off days. You can, but you don’t feel like you need it, especially if you are already active enough. Do it just because you want to, and it’s actually a way to relax.
- Take your activity outside: walk, jog, bike, play trap, swim, jump or do whatever you like. When you spend all of your time exercising indoors, it’s nice to be able to combine it with your outdoor activities. Recreational sports are great, but sports like soccer, soccer, basketball, Ultimate Frisbee, and more can also be really intense. If you regularly play at a competitive level and feel defeated, talk to a coach who specializes in your sport about developing the right training protocol for the season.
When you’re feeling really jaded and lacking the energy and motivation to exercise, it’s a waste of time to get away with something. Obviously, you cannot easily drop many of your life commitments, but you can always cut back on your activities. Instead, you can spend the day preparing meals on your rest day. Hell, if you want, you can sit on your ass, play video games, or read a book in the park. You should take this kind of rest for at least one day .
More often than not, too much exercise is counterproductive . Keeping fit and healthy requires a combination of rest and exercise, which in turn brings you results and all of your other health benefits. So take care of your body. This is why you play sports in the first place.