I love the gym. I want you at CrossFit Groundworx. I want to train with you, I love it when my gym is full and buzzing with energy!
So why am I, a gym owner, chiropractor & fitness enthusiast, telling you to stay away from the gym and rest?
It may come as a shock, but training doesn't make you stronger. The act of exercising is very catabolic which literally means "break down." Your whole body is under stress: muscle fibres are damaged, tendons and ligaments strained and glycogen stores are depleted. Yet, exercising makes you stronger, it makes you look and feel good. So what's the secret?
Simple - you are gaining strength, repairing damaged muscles & refilling glycogen stores during your recovery stage.
Scheduling rest days are just as important as scheduling your workouts. Yet, often it's hard for people to take a day or two off because of the belief that it will set them back in their performance and progress.
It seems easier to get to the gym and bust your ass than take a recovery day. Squat 1RM stalled? More squatting! Fat loss stalled? More cardio! is commonly the first thing people do in an attempt to get better results.
Here are 4 reasons why you need to make a mental adjustment and start believing that days off are good for you, your strength, your fitness & your body composition.
1. REST BUILDS MUSCLE
When you engage in strength training, you are essentially 'tearing' muscle fibres. The repair of these small tears is what causes the muscle to grow - for you to become stronger and to look more 'defined.' Without a period of relative rest, your body does not get the opportunity to repair and grow. You are not getting the full benefit of your training if you are not resting.
2. YOUR PERFORMANCE WILL NOT SUFFER & CAN EVEN IMPROVE
Generally speaking, it takes about 2 weeks of inactivity before you see a noticeable dip in your performance level. A day, or two off from training will not set you back from the hard work you've been putting it. In fact, a day or two off is necessary to stay motivated,
3. STAY SHARP
Taking a period of relative rest can keep your hunger for progress sharp, and help to prevent burnout. Mental fatigue can be as detrimental as physical fatigue. Taking a day off can recharge your body, and keep you excited for your training.
4. REST PREVENTS INJURIES
Taking a day off when something hurts might be common sense but still I hear "I thought it would go away" daily in my chiropractic clinic. Pushing too hard without time off can lead to overuse or repetitive strain injuries. These can take weeks and even months to recover from. Taking days off can be preventative and contribute to your longevity as an athlete.
Just like setting your performance goals, set your rest goals. What is something you want to accomplish on your day away from the gym? Go for a walk? Spend time playing pick-up with your kids? Look at your schedule and pick your weekly rest days. A day where your intense activity is limited to allow your body to recover. "Active recovery day" gets thrown around a lot - and I value a routine of light yoga or cardio to improve other components of your fitness like flexibility. Try adding in a regular weekly rest day and I promise your fitness and health will only benefit.
- Dr. Alli
Dr. Alli Cain is a chiropractor, CrossFit coach/box owner & nutrition consultant living in York Region. Her mission is to act as a catalyst for you to make a meaningful change to improve your health.