YES! Take a REST day.
Just don’t take a rest week.
My boys were on spring break last week, and although we didn’t take an real vacation, I acted like we did, by allowing all my good habits to fall to the wayside. I ate more, and not more of the right stuff. I exercised less, which meant more time sitting on my toosh. The only healthy thing I did for my body was increase my sleep by up to 2 hours a day…which definitely made yesterday’s 5:30 am wake up much more painful than usual.
Somewhere along the line I confused rest with over-indulgence, and they are clearly not the same! But there is definitely value to rest, both physcial and mental rest. There are endless articles that offer an opinion on rest days – why rest, when to rest and how to rest. But ultimately, there is no one right prescription to rest that fits everyone.
Why is rest important?
What is universal to all of us, is the value of rest. Our training is not what makes us stronger, the rest is. When we train, we tear our body down. Our rest time is when our body rebuilds, both new muscle and strength. Taking rest days increases our ability to train more frequently and effectively. Our mind and our bodies are not meant to work consistently at a high intensity. Rest is our time to recover. We need to alter our perception of rest from a guilt laden activity to an essential component of our fitness plan.
When should you rest?
If you wait until you are injured, or so physically and mentally beaten down that you simply can’t drag yourself to the gym, then you’ve waited too long for a rest day. Based on the differences in each of our personal fitness levels and goals, I can’t tell you when to rest. But what I will tell you is to schedule rest days into your workout plan. That’s right, just like you time block your workout classes into your calendar, you should schedule your rest days.
Personally, I schedule Thursday and Sunday as my typical rest days. However, I’ve also learned to listen to my body and allow some flexibility in my schedule to compensate for what my body really needs. The key here is one’s intention! Are you feeling lazy, is it a rainy day, do you strongly dislike one of the skills programmed into the WOD? Those are cop outs, and not legitimate reasons to take an impromptu rest day! There are no rest day police monitoring your activity and your intention, other than you. So learn the difference between breaking a commitment to yourself and trusting that you know what your body really needs.
What does a rest day look like?
Rest can be defined as “a period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity”. The goal of a rest day is to balance the high intensity workout days with a low intensity, restorative day. Again, based on the differences in each of our personal fitness levels and goals, I can’t tell you exactly what you should do on a rest day. Only you know what restores your mind, body and soul.
One person’s rest day activity of choice may be another person’s torture zone. Personally, I would gravitate towards a long bike ride in the woods, plugged into my favorite tunes. A barefoot walk on the beach with a friend. Or a yoga class followed by a massage. Whatever it is you choose to do, it should leave you feeling energize, not depleted!
Every now and then, it’s important to afford yourself a full on rest day, not an active rest day! Sleep in, stay in your pajamas, make chocolate chip pancakes, watch 2 movies in a row, take a nap, and play a game of Monopoly.
Rest, relax and rejunvenate – and have FUN doing it!
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