Rest Days are Important

Rest Days are Important

?If he dies, he dies.? -Drago

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I?m sure this is a thought that has gone through your head during a workout before. Some days you have it and some days you don?t. That feeling of wanting to just lie on the floor because you don?t have the energy to move on.

We?ve all been there at some point, hell, mine was last week after I decided to jump in with our clients and do Ben?s Cardio Conditioning class. Although the reason for replaying Rocky IV scenes in my head might of just been because I had a weekend consisting of watching every movie, yes, even the one with Tommy Gunn.

BUT, what if I actually could of prevented this feeling all together? What I didn?t tell you is that the prior 10 days I had just logged about 80 miles of mountain biking and 40 miles of backpacking. My body was pretty shot to say the least, but I just FELT like I needed to workout. Truth is I should of taken the day off..

There?s a growing misconception that if you aren?t working out every day then you?re not going to achieve your fitness goals. Whether that be finally realizing that the Dad Bod is not ?in,? or trying to get arms like Cameron Diaz. Seriously, look at those!

Image for postBest arms in Hollywood

I?m here to try and put that to rest. **Ba dum tsss**

Rest is a good thing, it?s actually very important for fat loss and muscle gain and not utilizing it could be the reason why you?re in a little bit of a rut. More importantly, its fricken science!

Don?t worry I?m not going to get all nerdy on you (but if you want that, check this out: ?A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents?). Resting makes you stronger and you need to stop going balls to the wall 6 days a week because you aren?t helping yourself.

You get stronger by recovering from exercise.This simple concept forms the basis of exercise physiology. Hans Selye first described it in 1936. Other professionals like Kraemer and Zatsiorsky have expanded on it further. The basic theory goes like this:

1. Provide a stimulus to an organism (exercise)

2. Remove the stimulus (rest)

3. The organism adapts to better handle the stimulus (Next time you can pick up those 25s instead of sticking with the 20s). This is called supercompensation.

You know that Step #1 is important. Step #3 is what everyone wants to achieve. But Step #2 is often neglected and an afterthought. Yet, it?s one of the most important pieces.

What happens when you neglect Step #2 and you never remove the stimulus (you continue to exercise constantly)? Seyle actually studied that too. The organism dies. To relate that to fitness, it?s saying that a never-ending stimulus (unceasing exercise) doesn?t make you better. It makes you worse.

I like to use the analogy that not taking a day of and resting is like picking a scab. If you continue to pick at a scab it?s going to continue to keep bleeding and not heal. You?re muscles act in the same way. Every time you work out you?re stressing and breaking down the muscle. If you don?t allow it time to regenerate and repair its never going to fully heal.

So how is this keeping you from looking like Cameron Diaz?

Muscle burns fat. If you don?t have muscle, you don?t burn away the fat. So while you might think lifting every day is building muscle and making you stronger and burning away the fat, the reality is that when you aren?t lifting is when you?re getting the results.

My suggestion is that you refrain from working out more than 3 days consecutively. I don?t like to suggest complete rest for the whole week unless you?ve been on an uninterrupted tear at the gym. Instead I suggest a couple active recovery workouts, some low intensity yoga, and yes, some straight-up rest. Active recovery means you are working, but not at an intensity that is breaking down muscle or leaving you completely exhausted. One of my favorite recovery is rowing 2000 meters or going out for a bike ride through town.

These are low impact things that will give the body a rest. It?s fine to take a night off from the gym, not to mention a great excuse to catch up on Stranger Things.

?Sorry huh, not going to the gym. It?s a rest day and I have Netflix waiting for me.?

So next time you find yourself quoting Sylvester Stallone movies because you?re dog tired, lying on the gym floor, seriously think about a rest day. You will see your results faster. You?ll suffer fewer chronic injuries. You?ll be less prone to burning out. You?ll overall just be better. Try it.

–Matt

Kraemer, William J.; Zatsiorsky, Vladimir M. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training, Second Edition.

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