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Embrace Your Offdays

In the training world, one must understand that rest is equally as important as working out, yet it is often neglected. By doing so, one is putting him/herself at risk for potential overuse injuries, fatigue, increased stress or loss of enjoyment in training-- this is linked to overreaching. When overreaching is taken a step further, overtraining arises, which can have severe consequences, including kidney failure or death. How do we prevent these issues? Take a day off!

I get it—you want to lose 10 more pounds before your Fourth of July trip to Miami Beach, or you have a half-marathon coming and want to get a new PR. These are awesome goals, but, sometimes, such ambitious goals can have devastating effects that may ultimately delay those results. Ask any strength & conditioning coach or personal trainer if they can tell you how many times they have seen clients want to take it too far, and many may have lost count long ago.

Being motivated to pursue a fitness goal is one of the keystones to making it a reality; so how do we go about keeping it in check, yet consistent enough to push through a year-long plan? One way to do this is to schedule off-days on your calendar. For beginners, training everyday might sound like a great idea, but after a couple days, they will notice that their soreness is not only not going away, but also going from “sore” to “painful”. Essentially, when this happens, your body is telling you that you need to take a risk. Planning ahead is a good way to ensure you are working out regularly, and taking off-days to allow your body to heal and recharge for your next bout.

Okay, so how often should you take an off-day? This greatly depends on each individual’s training experience and fitness level. For those who have not worked out for months before their New Year’s resolution takes effect, at least one rest day after a workout day might be the solution; for the Olympic hopeful, training Monday through Saturday with Sunday off works for you. The key here is that you know your body more than anyone on this planet does; therefore, you have to pay close attention to what it is telling you. When things become painful, you have to stop—it’s that simple.

So, since my job as a personal trainer is to help people workout, why am I writing a piece focusing on resting? After a challenging training session, one has placed their muscular system through substantial stress; therefore, you must permit your body to recuperate properly. For some, the recuperation process may take a little more or less time than others, unless you are trying to compare yourself to an elite athlete (by the way, don’t do this).

However, do not allow this as a free pass to turn into a sloth throughout the entire day. Taking the dog out for a long walk or the kids out to the beach is great way to allow your body to get the rest it needs without being cooped up indoors. Sleep is also important, so taking a short nap or, for the morning workout warriors, sleeping in is a good option.

Being motivated does not mean that you have to redline your workouts at all times. Just like redlining a car, you can get away with it once in a while, but continually forcing it to redline will lead to a damaged engine and a hefty bill from the mechanic. So, remember, work hard during your workouts, but do not dismiss the importance of rest.

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