By Cavino Johnson Athletic Xtreme
I have a confession to make, I didn’t train yesterday. I didn’t train the day before yesterday or the day before that. Truth be told, I didn’t train at all last week. You read it right. I didn’t lift a single dumbbell, barbell, or weight plate. I did not even do so much as a single rep or set of anything. OMG!! I suppose #TeamNoDaysOff won’t be sending me an invite to their club, now. As I said, rest days are the best days and here’s why.
My time away from the gym and from training was and was not planned. An intelligent lifter knows when to give the body the full rest it needs. Now, some may argue that the body doesn’t need more than 24-72 hours to recover. For some, that may be true. For others, not so much. But, I’ll speak for myself at this time, so bear with me. I have my reasons.
On social media, I see a lot of memes, I see a lot of #repost, a lot of #instaquotes, and I’ll openly admit that I despise the majority of them. We are speaking to the general population that reads these posts and mimics them, spreads them… actually lives by them. Perhaps they do it to draw the attention of the like-minded, to gain “followers”, etc… the epitome of social media these days. Some aim for motivation. Others for inspiration. But most, are off target. Ok, I’m confusing you… the same way most of social media does.
The idea of taking no days off, honestly, is absurd. This is one of the many reasons a majority of people fail at becoming healthy. True, it takes a certain level of commitment. It takes a certain level of discipline. It takes a certain wok ethic, all around. I mean, let’s see it for what it really is– YOUR LIFE. If you want longevity, you live like it. But, the misconception that I see is that many people feel that they have to be in the gym every single day, doing something, almost anything. It’s a trap. It’s untrue. You need the rest. Oh gosh– look at the confused faces of disbelief. Yes. A bodybuilder just said you do not have to be in the gym 7 days a week. I’ll also go so far as to say that an extended break from training is an absolute must.
What people fail to realize is the stress training puts the body under. No, I’m not talking about breaking down muscle to build it back up again, stronger. I’m talking about your joints, your mentality, your physical well-being, your time, sleep patterns, etc… It really is all very relevant to the ultimate goal– health and growth. What we tend to see in social media, are people that irresponsibly promote #nodaysoff and go hard every day. This gives the impression that you have to train every single day. Now, I won’t touch the argument on the concept of “overtraining”… I, for one, utilize 2-A-Days, from time to time, depending on where I am in my training. But, when constructing my training split, I incorporate a set number of strategic rest days. For instance, I have a quad dominate training day, and then a hamstring dominate day. They have, at least, 48 hours between them. One of those days will be a heavy lifting day for a different muscle group, and the other day is a rest day.
What do I do during my rest days? Not much, of course. Outside of the regular daily duties, I spend the time prepping food, relaxing, and mentally preparing for the rest of the training week. My nutrition, during rest days, changes slightly. My carb intake drops a little, as my fats increase slightly. My protein intake increases about 10 grams or so. My supplementation doesn’t change much on rest days. Of course, I won’t drink my Supersize on a rest day, but I sip on Stacked BCAAs, have 2 servings of creatine, normal daily vitamins (which, these days, are your regular Gummie Flintstones). My water intake increases a bit, too.
So, what does one do when they take nearly a week off? Why so long? During a week long “vacation” from the gym, I do much of what I listed above. But, I use a day or so for what I call “active rest”. For about 45 minutes to an hour, I will engage in some kind of activity. For instance, I played flag football with my kid and his friends. Another day, I played some basketball, and another day, active rest took place at my local track for some light sprints and stadium stair runs, followed by a lot of stretching. Every other day, relaxation. I usually set my rest days limited to 5 days. Once I get back in the gym, I’m fully rested, giving me the strength I need to power through training, once again. I have more focus, flexibility, and, believe it or not, I’m bigger.
I can’t recommend my way to every one, as we are all different, and train for different reasons. Just remember that the body doesn’t grow in the gym. The body grows during rest. Find what works best for you.
While I’m here, allow me to address something. It’s ok to “follow” people on social media. It’s ok to listen to some of their motivational speeches and read the posts. That’s what social media has become. Even I have my social media sites. Just be careful in how you perceive what you’re being told and what you read. What works for one person may not work for another. The greatest factor in the grand scheme of things– being healthy. Work hard in the gym. Relax outside the gym.