As spring approaches, my clients often want to amp up their training, push for new goals, or lose that last ten pounds before warmer temperatures arrive and our winter sweats need to be retired.
In our rush to see the results we want, it’s very easy to forget about the rest our bodies need. We tend to skip over this chapter in our workout binders and focus more on how to achieve our goals as quickly as possible. The reality, however, is that rest is one of the most important factors in a successful fitness journey.
If you’re not achieving the results you have been working so hard for, your body is at a plateau, or you’re feeling completely exhausted, rest may just be the missing link in your training journey. I understand that getting rest may be not only be a physical battle for you, but also a mental one, so today we are going to review some of the benefits of giving the body a break to try to encourage you to kick your feet up and allow the body to fully rest as you get one step closer to your goals.
It makes sense that resting would help us avoid injury, but why? When we are constantly in training mode, we tend to overuse the areas of our body in which we are trying to see results. Whether you are a runner, cyclist, weight lifter, or dancer, you know how much demand your body faces in each workout. If we push too hard and too often without a break, our muscles and joints suffer from overuse. This is often when we see injury happen.
Mix it up
Whether you are trying to build a bikini butt, work on washboard abs, or increase your speed on the track, focusing on the weak area of the body instead of on a balanced training program not only breaks the body down but also creates imbalance in all the muscles we are not working. Creating a training program that is balanced and allows all your muscles to be properly trained allows the immune system to repair and grow the muscles. If we don't allow the body to mix it up, our body misses out on the full benefits of our workouts.
Don’t worry about setbacks
Clients often express fears about missing workouts when working towards big goals, but in reality it takes the average person two weeks of "non-activity" before he or she starts losing a noticeable amount of progress physically or in his or her performance levels. Stressing about having skipped your workout is actually more damaging than sitting around doing nothing! So skip the stress, kick up your feet, or go for a light walk. Progress and power are in balance.
Get peaceful rest
Late night workouts, overtraining, or lack of proper nutrition as we work towards our goals can all be factors that put our bodies in a stage of high alert, which causes restlessness. If your heart rate increases at bedtime, you experience sweating during the night, or you have an anxious mind when you are trying to go to sleep, these could be signs of overtraining. Your body telling you that it’s time to slow down. Rest days allow the body to slow down, relax, and keep our hormones at positive levels. Proper rest days mean better sleep and more alertness for those workouts!
Give your immune system love
One of the first ways I know I'm overtraining and not allowing myself proper rest is when I experience colds or other illnesses. If we are constantly in active mode and don't allow our bodies to rest or our muscles/joints to repair, doing so will eventually take its toll on our immune system. Just as our bodies go into overdrive when we don't get enough sleep, our immune systems do likewise when we do not allow time for repair, rest, and relaxation. When sickness shows up, we also see our progress decrease, and we start to feel mentally fried. Feeling like your immune system is burned out? Maybe today you should grab some green juice, visit the sauna, and hit the hay early.
Keep your head in the game
Taking time to properly rest is going to affect many areas of your body, one of them being mental focus. Taking days off to refocus your mind, reminding yourself you can do this, and reminding yourself about why these goals are important to you are important. When we get tired, mentally exhausted, and emotionally worn out, we tend to allow poor nutrition to work its way into our day, we lose the balance of what our body is telling us it needs, and we lose the strength to really show up for ourselves or others on a daily basis.
I want to always love fitness, set big goals, and enjoy new adventures. I know that if I don't allow my body to rest, recover, or refocus, I'll risk missing out on all that my body can give me and allow me to do. This is the only body you have! Train hard, set big goals, and allow periods of proper physical and mental rest.