The Value of Taking a Rest Day

I’m a recovering gym rat. It’s true.

Entering into college at 18, I got a membership to the campus fitness center. I would go down and work out before my regular classes started and my campus was huge, so I was walking everywhere.

By night-fall, I was exhausted. My friends started to make fun of me, saying that my granny had more of a college student lifestyle than I did because she stayed up late and got up even later.

When I finished college, it was ingrained in my day, going to the gym was just like another class or meeting to me.

I continued the lifestyle into my first career. My mom always said that it would stop then, that I would need to take life more seriously. To me, this was the serious life, and I wasn’t going to slow down for some “job”.

I was going to the gym before work, sometimes again during the lunch break, and for sure again after work. I alternated – upper body one day, lower body the next. I was so used to working out that I was hardly sore anymore, I was in a constant adrenaline rush
and was obsessed with getting my sweat on.

Then, I finally got smart about it. If I became a part-time fitness instructor, I could get PAID for the adrenaline rush and get a free gym membership out of the deal. My strategy was that it would get me to the gym even on days when I was tired. At least I would have to go. This lasted for about five years, until I finally recognized that I was exercising not for the joy anymore, but that’s another post.

It’s taken me another five years to get out of the compulsive exercise cycle and move away from the gym, however, I’m finally there and actually see the benefits of taking a rest between workout cycles. My strength is improving, my body is toning in a way I never experienced with continual fatigue. I don’t feel that nagging guilt that I once did when I don’t
go hard and I’m happy.

What I want to emphasize here is there’s a difference between training and working out.

Working out is a term to describe going to the gym, doing some exercise, moving the body, getting your heart rate up to feel like you’ve put in your time like all the health guidance says to do.

Training means working toward a goal, honing strength and techniques, and moving with purpose.

This is how my relationship with exercise has changed over time. When I am taking a rest period, I’m still training, it’s just at a lower intensity. On my rest days, I’m still stretching, rolling, mobilizing my joints and doing lighter body weight conditioning. It prepares my body for the next high-intensity training session where I’m stronger, faster, and feel more rested.

If you also find yourself in this rut, take a moment to do a Five Whys assessment.It could look something like this:

WHY 1: Why do I feel compelled to work out?

– I want to improve my physical fitness and maintain a healthy lifestyle (and look good naked).

2. Why is improving physical fitness important?

– It helps my overall health and is a great way to both get and burn off energy when I’m being mental all day.

3. Why do I want a healthy lifestyle?

– It makes me feel and look better.

4. Why are appearance and performance goals important to me?

– It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I don’t always get in my job.

5. How does working out contribute to this?

– Working out directly impacts physical fitness, overall health, appearance, and performance by increasing muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular function. It is my outlet and I love it!

With this information now ask – “What if I get injured and cannot workout anymore?”

This is where I usually get dead silence.

This is where having a training plan or goal helps to overcome obstacles associated with injury or set-backs.

With a good training plan, you can revert back to previous progressions or elements that will help to build foundational base again and rehabilitate your body and mind. It brings purpose and focus to your workouts that is more than looks or appearances.

Find a skill or activity that you would like to do and then start training for that. A well-rounded training program will include strength, mobility, and endurance components to keep you well-rounded in your motions. Need some ideas? Drop me a message or start with our free course that helps you identify your goals and tips for working toward them.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep track our training schedule throughout the day. That’s why we have them all listed as healthy habits to track in The Agile Life Plan 4-week kick-start free course. Try it out for yourself 🙂

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