You already know that rest days are your friends, but did you know that taking a longer block of time off is especially beneficial to your fitness goals?
Believe me, I know motivation is a fickle thing. And tempting said motivation with even one unscheduled day off often ends in motivation jumping off a cliff. But there are times when you need to let go and give yourself permission to take some time off.
Taking a much-needed break could mean the difference between fitness success or workout burnout.
Deload to Reload
If you lift weights or regularly engage in any other strenuous exercise, a scheduled deload week might be just what you need.
Deloading involves taking a solid week off from the gym, or simply reducing the amount of weight/intensity used for your workouts that week.
When you take a scheduled deload, you are giving yourself permission to take time off. Giving yourself this permission helps keep your meandering motivation in check.
Because you are bypassing the usual guilt associated with taking an unscheduled day off, you’ll be more likely to get back on the workout wagon, without missing a beat.
Deloading may seem counter-intuitive on the surface, but the benefits are many.
- Gives ligaments and tendons time to rest. Your ligaments and tendons don’t have the same recovery ability that your muscles do. When you train with weights, it can take them days longer than muscle mass to recover from the resistance training we subject them to. Taking a scheduled break every 4-8 weeks gives this precious connective tissue time to fully recover.
- Reduces injury.
- Relieves accumulated fatigue.
- Great for breaking a lifting plateau. Giving the muscles this time off can help when you’ve hit a lifting plateau. Taking a deload week is a great time to reset your weights and start building up your lifting numbers again, with the goal of breaking that plateau, and moving beyond it.
- Renews motivation.
A common problem that stems from neglecting to take proper rest days is overtraining. Overtraining is characterized by chronic fatigue, lack of motivation, and an overall flu-like feeling.
You can bypass overtraining fatigue altogether by taking regular days off (2-3 per week). But if you’ve already overdone it and are experiencing the above symptoms, it’s time to take at least a week off.
I wouldn’t even mess around with reducing weights, like with a partial deload. You need to completely get away from the gym. Eat well, sleep as much as you can, and find something else you enjoy for a while.
When you feel better, you will come back more motivated, energized and ready to go.
When you go on vacation, the main idea is to relax and recharge. And with any luck, you aren’t tethered to your phone and email.
Hopefully, you take that time to “unplug” from the fast-paced world in which we live, silencing your cell phone and ignoring emails while you can.
Now tell me, why wouldn’t you “unplug” your workout schedule, too?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving yourself permission to fully enjoy your vacation. Omitting your workouts during this time means more time for your family, friends, and FUN.
The gym will still be there when you get back. And guess what? Giving yourself time away from the gym can result in renewed motivation. BONUS!
Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
There’s a recurring theme in the reasons above. In all instances, your motivation (or lack thereof) benefits from some much-needed R&R.
Yes, your body truly benefits as well. No question. But let’s face it, if you’ve been half-assing your workouts, and dragging yourself to the gym, some time off is just what you need to stoke that fitness fire again.
Go ahead and give yourself permission to take a scheduled break. Take care of your mind and body. Your fitness goals will thank you for it.