Let’s talk about REST, baby

If you’re not taking regular rest days or deload weeks (decreasing the volume & intensity of your workouts), listen up!

Humans aren’t machines; exercise-induced muscle damage needs healing time. This is a case where less really can be more: because you don’t get stronger from the act of lifting weights; you get stronger by *recovering* from the act of lifting weights.

Here are tips on how taking a step back can help you progress more quickly in the long run:

  1. Take 1-2 rest days per week. Crush your workouts, then fully embrace days off. Stay active doing what feels good (walking, yoga, massage), but give your body a break from intensity.
  2. If you regularly strength train, try a deload week every 4-6 weeks. Reduce your load and volume, but maintain your typical movements.
  3. Make rest days & deload weeks deliberate; time off due to an injury or illness doesn’t count. Plan ahead & take ‘em before you need ‘em for best results!
  4. It’s even more important it is to give your body regular breaks as you age. I’ve learned this firsthand; train like you did in your 20’s & you’ll end up paying for it!
  5. Don’t worry about losing your hard-earned gains: Research shows that it takes around three weeks of inactivity for the first signs of muscular atrophy to emerge. Relax!
  6. Take advantage of vacations for deloads. If you’re pushing hard at home, it feels good to take both a mental & physical break.
  7. Finally, from a nutrition perspective, EAT! I see programs out there that cycle lower calories/carbs on rest days, but I’m not a fan of this approach for two reasons: First, your body needs nutrients to recover; give it what it needs to heal on days off. And second, the insinuation that you’ve got to “earn” more calories/carbs on workout days sets up a mindset for disordered eating. You’re not a dog; food is not a reward for “good” behavior. A focus on *consistency* with workouts and nutrition will serve you much better.

Bottom line: If you want to see real results from your hard effort, rest early & rest often. Work hard, and recover HARDER.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s