The majority of fitness articles you are going to come across on the web are going to be some variation of: Bigger biceps in 7 steps!, Eat this one food and drop 20 pounds!, Secret weight loss pill, never eat again! An article that is centered around rest periods and taking time off of the gym may not fair well, but it is important to put out not only entertaining content, but informative content.
Days away from the gym to help your body recoup are just as important as actually going to the gym. They should be placed at appropriate intervals and kept as consistent as your exercise routine. Longer-term rest periods can be necessary in some situations, but aren’t as vital if you are following a sound weekly schedule and aren’t an athlete or bodybuilder.
You simply need a vacation
Simply needing some time away from everything can happen when you take part in the busy lifestyle of the western world. Balancing work, exercise, family, a healthy diet and other commitments can run you down and have you saying “enough!” Managing stress day to day is key to avoiding this problem, but a vacation away from the hectic side of things is nice. Just because you jet down to Mexico for a sun-filled week doesn’t mean exercise and habits should just be thrown out the window. Leave your iPhone at home but make sure you bring your running shoes. No matter where you go for a vacation, there are still going to be opportunities to exercise. This doesn’t mean you must go to the gym and stick to your routine, but it does mean you should continue getting your blood pumping once a day. Book excursions, swim in the ocean, play some beach sports; there are a lot of activities that can be done while on vacation that are both fun and considered physical activity.
Fatigue has set in
There is a significant difference between being tired after a hardcore workout and being continuously fatigued due to lack of sufficient energy. The latter is not a good sign and could be due to a variety of variables in your life. The first thing you such look at is your gym routine: how hard you are working out, how much time you are taking off, how is your diet and how much sleep are you getting. This is a problem that should not be taken lightly. If you are being honest with yourself and are fatigued on a day-to-day basis, taking an additional day or two off from the gym is an extremely good idea. Use this time to evaluate what is going on if your life and see if you can make appropriate changes. Going to the gym when you are fatigued once and a while is fine, but as this problem becomes longer term, working out can push you deeper and deeper into the hole. Continuing down the path and brushing it off can turn into burnout and if you wind up at that stage recovering will then turn into your full-time job.
No more progress to be found
Progress slowing down or stopping, especially if you have just completed your first 6-12 months at the gym, is not a sign for concern. It happens to the majority of exercisers and it is only a sign that your body is adapting more efficiently to the stress you are putting it through. Scheduling a couple days off to write out a new routine is great a plan and will probably give you some drive to get back in the gym and hit it even harder. If you are noticing slower than normal progress in multiple parameters (endurance, strength and appearance) and are positive your routine and diet are in line, then you may be over doing things. Take a step back and evaluate how much rest you are getting. It could be too little sleep, too many days in a row, etc., but it is common for progress to stagnate when recovery time is not sufficient. Remember, rest is when your body recovers and builds back up stronger, and it needs a sufficient amount of it if you are working at a high intensity.
There may be multiple times when you are feeling low and just don’t want to go to the gym. If there is not a valid excuse, like your mother needs to go the hospital, then pick your butt up and get to the gym. Taking a day off because you are lazy is a sign of a weak attitude and should be avoided at all costs. You are not mentally weak so don’t act like it!
Mackenzie Kelly is a fitness model, personal trainer and fitness coach. In her free time, she writes about health and fitness to educate others. She’s the brains and beauty behind mkellyfitness.com. You can keep up with Mackenzie on Twitter @mkelly007, as well as on Facebook and YouTube.