Is the gym your second home? Is training part of your daily activity? Is missing a workout NOT an option? Have you been to the gym or haven’t missed a day of exercise in years?
You go in each day, get the work done, and feel great about your accomplishments. Well done! You should! And while consistency is key to any exercise program, one important factor that is often overlooked is REST and RECOVERY. Taking a break from exercising every 8-10 weeks it crucial for success. Yes, you heard me! A full week with no training at all. Not only does it have so many benefits, but THIS, is sometimes what you need to help you break through a plateau.
Intense training puts a great deal of stress on your body. The body can only handle so much repeated stress. And while we are able to withstand the daily pressure of the grind, the body truly needs a break in order to repair itself and grow, hence get stronger.
We don’t actually get fitter in the gym or gain more endurance while running or performing boot camp classes. This is where we apply a stimulus to your heart and tear your muscle fibers down to push our bodies more the next time.
The getting stronger or “fitter” part actually occurs after the workout. When you eat and rest, the body is able to repair itself making it more efficient for it to go out and do it all over again the next time we train. We stack these mini cycles on top of each other, growing, building, becoming stronger over time in day to day exercise. We are able to run faster, lift heavier weights or beat a personal best record.
Because we usually don’t recover fully between workouts, we add fatigue each time we enter our exercise state and our bodies over time accumulate fatigue to a point where it truly needs a rest. A long rest. Your body simply can’t take the stress anymore and would truly perform better if it were free from exhaustion.
Loss of motivation comes in to play as well for some. Constantly grinding each day makes it not only hard on our bodies but our mental state as well. This rest and recovery period encourages longevity and progress in the gym. You will WANT to go back after a week off and give it all you’ve got.
For me personally, taking a week off completely helps me mentally and physically. After my week off, I go back to the gym so refreshed and recuperated that I have the most intense, strongest training sessions. My body is free from aches and pains and is ready to tackle a new program! It’s a time when some of my best training sessions occur.
I still keep my macros and eating habits the same. My nutrition doesn’t change even though my training does. I have learned to use food as fuel instead of cardio as a punishment for eating. This keeps my metabolism running smoothly and gives it an extra boost while resting.
No, you will not lose your strength and no, you will not gain weight from one week off. Rather, you will give your body time to rest, heal and have a mental break.
You may fear of gaining weight from not working out for a week, but the reality is that you will not gain weight. If the scale happens to move in the upward direction, it is water retention and glycogen that your muscles are holding. This is actually a good thing! Don’t cut back on calories during this week – to fully recover your body actually requires protein and nutrients to do so.
Be smart when following a nutrition and training program. You will feel so much stronger, energized, less irritable and mentally able to get back into your exercise regime from time off enjoying things you normally don’t get to do – whether it be shopping, a nice walk or stretch, relaxing at home, watching a movie or time with friends.
Don’t feel guilty or lazy for taking a week off. Listen to your body. If you haven’t had a break in a while do so now. Your body will thank you in the end, in more ways than one.