This is Why You Should Take a Break from Working Out

And what will you have me do? Do you want me to put on weight? This is what I get when I ask a client to take a day off from working out. It is like I am snatching weight loss away from their reach.  When I say take a break, I do not mean stay away from working out forever or stay away for 1 week. I mean give your body a day or 2 to rest each week.

Going on a brutal cardio and strength workout week after week will cause mental and physical exhaustion.

 

For the past 4 months, I have been asking Grace to take a day off, stay at home and rest. She said no. I am fine. I can go on. Then on Monday she almost fell asleep on the stationary bike. The next day she walked on the treadmill on the lowest speed, without incline as if she had nowhere to go. In between workouts, she would sit on the abs bench staring at other people working out. During our HIIT workout, she struggled to keep up.

On Thursday, she called to tell she thinks she needs to take a day off and recover and I thought, finally. On Saturday she came back energized.

Your body knows that you need to take a break and that is why it gives you signals. But most times you refuse to listen because you feel that the more you sweat, the more you jump and the more you beat up your body the more fat you will burn. And you keep beating up that beautiful body up (and it is beautiful even if it is not yet in the shape you want it to be) until it reacts by giving you a dose of its own kind of strange medicine.

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Excessive workout can cause you to burn out

 Exercise can give you more energy and help you stay focused. Overtraining will sap your energy and make you irritable, distracted and prone to injury.

When your body is tired from all the beating it is getting from you in the name of working out, it may resort to making you feel strange so you will notice.

# 1 The first thing you might notice is that you are so tired that you actually feel uncomfortable with that feeling of tiredness. You know it’s not normal for you to be this tired but you cannot place where it is coming from or what you did to cause you to feel that way.

# 2 You fall asleep while checking your phone in the afternoon and in the middle of a conversation. Again this is not like you at all. You are this active person that does not fall asleep in the afternoon.

Or worse you fall asleep while you are in a conversation with your spouse and wake up after some seconds to see her glaring at you.

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Sleeping off in the middle of a conversation

# 3 You always feel sore and this has nothing to do with HIIT or abdominal workout. It is a sore feeling that is present whenever you move your body. Your quads hamstring and your shoulders are in persistent state of soreness. Of course, the no pain no gain exercisers will defend the soreness by saying it’s because they killed it in the gym. Well, your body is screaming because you are killing the fun in working out.

When you work out every single day for more than 60 minutes for months without giving yourself 1-2 days off every week, you are putting a lot of stress on your body and this is counterproductive.

It is when you rest after exercise that your body recovers and rebuilds itself. It is important to include 1-2 rest days in your routine to allow your body to rest and become stronger.

When you take a day off, you come back stronger and more energetic and ready to face the next challenge your trainer will come up with.

Again taking a break does not mean an unplanned break or a week long break.

How to Choose Your Day of Rest

There is always a day that most people take as a day off, maybe because of religion or other reasons. In addition to that you should also have a planned day off. Look at your workout program and check the day that you normally have an all out war with fat. Take a day off after that.

An Example

Monday Strength training
Tuesday HIIT
Wednesday Recovery day
Thursday Strength training and low impact cardio
Friday HIIT
Saturday HIIT
Sunday Recovery day

 

Do not panic. Taking a break does not take anything away from you. You will not gain back the fat you lost as long as you do not equate rest day with junk filled day.

What do you do On Your Recovery Days?

What you do on the days you set out as your recovery days are important.

Focus on moving but in a way that is not challenging to your body

Here are some examples

  • Meditate: Meditation brings focus and calmness to your busy and noisy mind. On your rest day you can take a couple of minutes for your meditation. Find a quiet place. If you are at home switch off the TV and keep your phone in silent. Stay in a comfortable position and meditate. If you are just starting on meditation, calmly inhale and as you exhale count it as 1.Count your breath till you get to 20 or till you are completely calm.

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  • Be mindful: Take time and admire nature. In your busy days rushing in and out, when did you take time to admire how beautiful nature is? Try and rediscover and appreciate things you have forgotten about that nature that once made you happy. Take time and breathe and relax.

 

  • Relax with your kids: This will be a good time to play snake and ladders, monopoly or scrabble with your kids. If you do not want to play such games then ask them to initiate a game

 

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Play a game of WHOT with your kids
  • Watch a cartoon or comedy – Action and horror film is not recommended. You want to relax not jump in panic, cover your eyes or scream when a horrible looking face suddenly jumps out from the wardrobe.

 

  • Have an easy day in the gym: Gym again? Oh yes. Your off day could be sent in the gym as long as you do not do anything that will challenge your body. You can try some relaxing Yoga pose like the child’s pose or the cat and cow.

 

  • Keep up with healthy eating: You can use your off day to take a critical look at your personal nutrition, find out if its needs improvement and see if there are steps you can take to improve it.

If you are still panicking about what missing a day in the gym will do to you, then go to the gym, climb on the stationary bike, put it in the lowest tension and cycle as if you don’t have anything to lose. That can also be defined as taking a break.

If you are not panicking then grab a quick rest and recovery session and return to your workout routine energized.

Author: Nkeoma DND Agu

Hi, I'm Nkeoma DND Agu. A Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition coach. I'm fully committed to helping you transform your body and live a healthier and fulfilled life.

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