Let’s have a show of hands: how many of you fitness fanatics love taking a break from training in the middle of the week? No one? How unsurprising.
It’s not a seldom occurrence to see athletes training every single day in hopes of achieving better results in terms of hypertrophy, endurance, and explosive power, pushing their limits from workout to workout. Until, that is, they end up with a bulging disk, a torn rotator cuff, or a shattered kneecap.
You see, while training six or seven days a week is every athlete’s wet dream, it’s not a very good long-term idea. Here is why rest is equally, if not more important as your workout, and how you can optimize your weekly routine for maximum results.
What if you’re working out too much?
Have you ever thought about what would happen if you trained too much for too long? Not a lot of good things, that’s for sure. For one, you could end up tearing or rupturing a muscle. The healing process would take months, and your muscle would never be the same afterwards. You have to find a balance between exercise and rest.
Or, you could end up destroying your CNS. CNS fatigue is one of the worst situations you could be in. From insomnia and a lack of appetite, to the inability to function properly during the day and vomiting your guts out, CNS fatigue is a serious problem that can persist for up to several months.
Therefore, give your ego a time-out, structure your intensity, volume, and frequency variables accordingly, stick to four training days a week, and you will be one step further to enjoying a long and happy lifting career.
What’s your approach to rest days?
Do you hate your rest days? Or do you welcome them with open arms after a grueling workout? Whatever the nature of your relationship, you need to transform your mindset and start viewing rest days as growth days. This will not only help you deal with having to back off training in the first place, but will also help you grasp the importance of maximizing your growth day potential.
When you go hard and heavy in the gym, you’re not actually building anything, you’re doing quite the opposite – creating microscopic tears in your muscle fibers and challenging your CNS strength. These tears, bruises, and dents need to be fixed in order for you to come back stronger the following day.
This leads us to the next crucial point.
Are you maximizing your growth day potential?
So how do you usually spend your growth days? Is it lazy-ing about on the couch eating chocolate, or are you actively working towards helping your body recover and become bigger, better, leaner, and stronger? You see, there is a difference between resting and active recovery.
Active recovery is your golden ticket to Gainsville, so you want to stay mobile, go out for a walk or a jog, hit the heavy bag for a few rounds, and do anything to keep the blood flowing. You also want to eat, a lot. During your recovery period, your metabolism is revving from the workout, taking in every nutrient you throw at it – you want to use that opportunity to get as much protein, carbs, and fat in as possible.
You also want to use natural supplements and remedies to aid in the process. One of the most effective ways to minimize cortisol (the catabolic hormone) is to use low marijuana doses, as the active substances have proven to have positive effects on nervous system and muscle health. Plus, it can be a great Christmas gift for you athlete friends, so a detailed marijuana gift guide can help you find the best products for maximum recovery.
How are you structuring your training days?
And finally, you need to address the question of training structure. You might be under the impression that you should go all out every single training session, but the truth is quite different. You should structure your volume and intensity throughout the week in order to avoid neural and muscular fatigue.
Instead of going all out on a Monday, you want to build up the intensity throughout the week, and make your Thursday and Saturday workouts the heaviest. Keep Monday and Tuesday at a fairly challenging level, entailing more volume but less intensity. This way, you will be able to make muscle and strength gains without the risk of injury or burnout.
It’s not easy taking a day off when you’re an aspiring athlete and an avid gym addict. However, growth days are imperative if you want to remain in the lifting game a long time. Be sure to implement these tips, and you will be crushing new goals in no time.