Updated June 19, 2019
When was the last time you took a rest day or an even longer break from your workouts or your regular routine in another way? Like the kind where you literally DO NOTHING, and you planned it that way.
If your answer is “Uhhh, I don’t remember my last rest day,” or “training breaks are for wusses,” this is your invitation to rethink that.
I can get pretty competitive about pretty much everything, but I recently called for a timeout and did some on-water rows purely for fun. Our summers are so short in the Upper Peninsula, I just wanted to slow down for a minute and enjoy it.
If you could be inside my head you would know that that’s an enormous change. Normally I’m all about having some sort of a workout to do, or at least a bunch of drills, whether I’m training for a race or not.
But by slowing down and NOT having a goal in mind beyond getting some fresh air and enjoying being on the water, I had an amazing, mood-boosting time and got to take in the scenery, including watching an eagle float overhead and seaplanes take off.
Point being: You miss a whole lot of life if the way you’re living is all grind, all the time.
Life’s too short for that, friends.
If you need more reasons to look at taking the pedal off the gas and give yourself a rest day – or two or six – here are three:
1. As we say about training, “You progress in the rest.” The workout is the stimulus for change, but the recovery IS the change. That’s when the muscles are resting and growing after being stressed.
Something to keep in mind: The general rule is you need at least 48 hours to recover from a workout, with full recovery not seen until 72 to 96 hours later. The older we get, the longer the recovery time, by the way.
2. Rest helps you keep your mental edge: A little time off from the gym will do wonders for your performance when you do get back to it. By the way, “a little time off” doesn’t have to mean a rest day or two a week. If your mental or physical performance is really suffering, maybe you need to take a break of a week or more.
Unless you’re training for something right now (and even if you are) we promise the world won’t come to an end if your weight or erg session becomes a day at the pool, an easy breezy walk or bike ride, or an afternoon in a comfy chair with a good book.
You’d have to do nothing for two weeks or more before you’d really feel the effects of any deconditioning. So kick back and relax, the world’s not coming to an end.
3. Rest prevents injury: By resting you prevent overuse, and that in turn prevents injury. Want to lose ground? Tear a rotator cuff or pop your Achilles. Then you’ll REALLY be resting.
We worship “the hustle” in the United States, often to our detriment. If all you’re doing is going, going, going, whether in your workouts, your work, or some other aspect of your life, you will eventually break down. Bet money on it.
How to make the most of your rest day or days
1. SLEEP IN – Nothing helps you restore your hard-worked muscles like some good shut-eye.
2. BUMP UP THE PROTEIN – It’ll help you rebuild that muscle you damaged in your workout.
3. HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE – We need hydration ALL the time, not just when we’re working out or being active. Don’t worry about some scientific calculation of how much to drink. If you’re peeing clear, you’re good.
So consider this your hall pass to go find a hammock or a cozy couch and a big old glass of lemonade. We’ll see you there!
Questions? Thoughts? Hit us up in the comments, we’ll get back to you asap … probably from the couch.
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