How many should you take?
For a lot of us, its something that’s really hard to do, taking time off from training and not doing much is harder than it sounds. At least, it is for me. I love to exercise and be active and I feel unproductive when I don’t. However, with age comes knowledge and experience (most of the time) and I have learned to listen to my body for long-term gain and longevity.
It’s a question I get asked a lot and one I see thrown around a huge amount. The most common questions “How many days off a week should I take?” or “Will I lose my gains for taking a few days to a week off training” are very legitimate ones and the same questions I still think about when I’m tossing up my own days off.
When we train, we break down the muscle, when we rest, we build the muscle and let the fibers repair and grow back stronger. Not only is rest crucial for our muscle repair and growth but for our joints, tendons, ligaments and hormonal system. Without proper rest and recovery time, overtraining can become a serious issue and lead to chronic fatigue, immune disorders and chronic injuries- something that no one wants.
So how many days off should one take?
I don’t believe there is a set answer for all of us as everyone and everybody is different. We train differently, have different bodies, eat differently and have different lifestyles, all which play a part in how much rest you should have. As a general rule, for beginners or people training a few times a week, it would be a good starting point to train one day and have the next off and follow that protocol. If you are a more experienced trainer then 1-2 days off a week could be good. However, this should be based off how you are feeling. For the past few months I have been training 6 days a week and recently I have felt my motivation during workouts as well as my strength waiver and drop from the usual levels. So, as much as I hate doing it, I have decided to take 2 days off- to start with! These 2 days may turn into a few more if I feel my body and my mind still need it. I would rather take 4-5 days off and come back completely fresh for another few months worth of hardcore training than get back into it tomorrow and then feel weak, shitty and unmotivated again in a few weeks time.
How you are feeling is the best judge of when and how many days off you should/need to have. Feeling guilty about doing so is quite common, but you need to remind yourself of the benefits of resting and letting your body recover. Remeber the muscle is actually growing and repairing while at rest- not while at work! If you’re an active person like me and hate to do nothing, an “active’ rest day is perfect. Going for a walk, a light swim or some stretching is a great way to help the body recover while keeping you slightly more entertained than doing nothing. My rest days normally involve a few walks (Harley likes to get outside), a sauna and a heap of water while in it as well as using the foam roller while my muscles are warm and I’m still in the sauna.
So, the next time you’re feeling guilty about a day or a few days off, remind yourself of the benefits of letting your body rest and recover- they far outweigh the benefits of a lackluster, unmotivated training session. Rest up, refresh and come back stronger and hungrier to keep improving!
Until next time,
PS. I have recently created my YouTube channel, it would be awesome if you check it out my latest videos and subscribe if you find the content helpful, I’ll be posting videos regularly on my fitness and training philosophy and the workouts I do to keep improving.
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