Taking planned rest periods can sometimes be difficult for those of us who use workouts as a form of religion. Let’s face it, for some of us our bodies are our temples. When we are stressed out, frustrated, or need alone time we have the sanctity of our workouts to fall into.
People who run, cycle, use weights, or anything else often turn to workouts as a way to relieve stress, create a stable point of focus in their schedule, and more.
So why would you want to take a break?
Heck, most of us have a hard enough time getting in as many sessions each week or month that we want. The thought of willingly cutting back on sessions seems a bit ludicrous. However it is very necessary for continued gains.
Reasons for a Layoff
- To Prevent Overtraining – Ah the deadly ‘overtraining‘ rears its ugly head once again. Sometimes we push ourselves too hard and too often. Most people don’t even notice when overtraining starts. After a while it catches up to them, gains disappear, and exhaustion can set in. Taking scheduled breaks can help prevent this.
- To Prevent Injury – Much like overtraining, injuries can happen when you train too hard, too often. Your body needs a certain amount of down-time to recover and rest. Elite athletes all take regular rest periods. They cycle their training based on competitions and other factors but always include regular rest periods for maximum recovery.
- To Recharge Mentally – We can put out a lot of effort and focus in the gym. But that output of energy tends to wear on us over time. Since the mental aspect is such a big part of any fitness program, the brain needs a break too. Ideally we should be excited to get to the gym like a kid on Christmas. When that enthusiasm wanes is often a good time for a break.
A lot of people talk themselves out of taking a break. They are worried that resting for a week or two will destroy their gains. Yes, you can have a slight loss of your level of fitness based on your time off. But, the gains you make after a rest period more than make up for it. Nobody can workout all the time and expect continual growth and advancement. Our bodies are just not built like that. A rest period does your body far more good than harm.
- Plan your layoff around other activities. Vacations are a prime option because your workout routine would get messed up anyway. Work trips are another good time. Make sure to use that time off wisely for extra sleep and relaxation.
- Tighten up the diet. While you are giving your body and mind a rest, this is not the time to go off the reservation for what you are eating. When you eat well you feel good. Plus your body should be getting adequate nutrition to recover. Remember, going overboard on calories just means more work at the gym later.
- Keep active. If you are used to getting tons of activity in then your body will need to do something otherwise you will be restless. Just go easy on what you do. Take walks, leisurely bike rides, or play a casual sport with friends like golf.
- Aim for at least one full week off. Then when you resume your program go at half effort for the first few sessions to acclimate your body.