It’s Monday morning as I’m writing this blog,
And I’ve just come to the end of my ‘rest week’.
It’s no secret I love to keep active and spend quality time with the olympic bar in the gym,
It’s all I ever plaster over instagram.
And whenever my Coach back home used to tell me to take a whole week off — it was honestly torture to wrap my head around, and I never really did it.
I always listened and took action on everything else he taught me,
But a rest week?
Saying that, I probably sound like I’ve got an unhealthy addiction to the gym,
I haven’t, just looking back I was worried I’d lose muscle, lose strength, lose progress, lose fitness, and everything I’d worked so hard to achieve.
But I was wrong.
And he was right.
(As always). 🙄
This time I listened, and I’m so glad I did.
So, A little background about what I’m doing right now in the gym, so what I’m about to say makes sense…
For a about 3 months, I was doing a linear strength training programme, (basically where you get all scientific and train slightly differently each week),
It did exactly what it was meant to do — made me STRONG! A whole lot stronger than I thought it would in fact — loving life.
After hitting those goals, I decided I wanted to build some muscle (while maintaining functional movement with my body — so it can always move freely how it’s built to move),
And building muscle, if you didn’t know, takes a while,
We’re talking 10–12 weeks of a slow rep programme,
But it’s not possible to build it right, if you keep breaking it down week by week by week,
You’ve gotta give it a break…
In comes ‘rest week’… or what I like to call ‘do a little less week’.
Here’s the gist…
Basically you can take a whole week off and just focus on lotsa ‘working-in’ (breathing patterns) and stretching OR you can 1/2 or 1/4 the volume…
I chose to 1/4 the volume and do plenty of breathing work, relax a bit more, take longer baths and spend a bit less time scrolling through social media,
And the result?… I’m about to share with you.
Cos’ I know a lot of people find it hard to slow things down, take a time out from working out full on, and really allow their bodies to rest…
I feel more toned
Weird, huh? Sure going to the gym can give you a ‘pump’ sometimes…
But I don’t know why, and I’ve noticed it a few times if I’ve been on vacation, take a lil’ break makes me feel more toned, and my muscles a little fuller…
Maybe it’s because I’m not breaking them down with all the reps and the sets, and still eating exactly the same as I do when hitting the gym up?
Whatever the science behind it is — I’m not going to question it.
My sprints felt faster this morning
I add a bit of HIIT onto the end of my sessions lately,
Sometimes it’s hell, but today it was… er, fun? What is happening, am I actually starting to enjoy cardio?
HIIT is hard, but I definitely had more speed in these legs of mine on the bike,
Maybe it’s time to fire up the resistance.
(Oh god no.)
I feel more laid back…
…With my routine, and the things I do.
Maybe it’s throwing myself out of my weekly routine for a week…
Doing only a 1/4 of my workout and getting in and out of the gym within 30 minutes, rather than the hour and 15 it usually takes.
The first day was hard,
(And yeah, yeah, I know it’s only been 7 days, but it was quite fun doing less and letting my hair down).
I sound so rock’n’roll.
I feel more in tune with my body
I’m usually pretty good at this…
At reading signs and signals from my body — I have a good sense for what it needs,
But this week, I tuned in closer and paid more attention then ever.
I fed it more carbs, cos it needed them.
I slept a little longer some mornings, rather than throwing the duvet off at 6.
I laid down on my Yoga mat, at several random times in the day when my body wanted to lay, stretch and breathe,
And I gave my mind some downtime outside of work to get back into my flow, and reflect on the next goals I want to work towards, to take myself to the next level (personally, and in business),
And I feel ready to go catch em!
And as I’ve always known, when the body is telling you something (you know that little voice in your head that comes from your gut)… listen to it.
It’s your best bud and best map.
I had fun…
I said ‘yes’ to doing things in the week I wouldn’t usually say ‘yes’ to when I’m so wrapped up in my routine.
I went for long, slow walks instead of breaking a sweat on the gym bike.
I drank milkshakes full of caramel goodness, ate burgers, (without the bun) and sweet potato fries,
I went to the movies and didn’t get home until midnight, oops.
Watched the sunset to reveal a full moon almost move full circle to sunrise — no regrets, 😊
Laughed in the rain.
Burnt major holes on my debit card shopping all day with my Mum,
And learnt the important lesson of taking a week off — to come back stronger.
If you struggle with the thought of taking a week off, or at least only doing 25% of the work you usually do in the gym — I feel ya,
But I’m also telling you, it’s not really an option not to take it slower, if you want to see results.
When you do lots of compound movements like squats, press-ups, deadlifts, overhead presses — your muscles get broken down, and it’s over the following 24–48 hours that those muscles get re-built and come back a little stronger.
Which is why working out everyday, isn’t going to do us any favours — you don’t want to destroy them without giving them a chance to grow back stronger.
Not just that, but it’s so so easy to get caught up in the busyness of our own lives so much, that we can forget to have fun, play, be curious and say ‘yes’ to things in case they put us out of sync.
While the gym and daily movement and my routine are things I hold dearly… I also don’t want to be my own prisoner and ‘miss out’ on new opportunities I wouldn’t say yes to otherwise…
Like this week just gone.
I was once a dummy and constant go go go until I couldn’t go anymore, forcing myself into a rest week…
But this time, I took the rest week before it caught me.
Take control and get comfortable with stepping outside your comfort zone more often.
Sometimes we hold ourselves back without even realising,
And life is way more beautiful when you learn how to be more playful and just… ‘be’.
Have you ever gone back and forth in your mind about taking a week off and a rest from all the exercise you do? (Or a routine you always hold yourself to?)
Tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to hear your actionable tips, and what you learnt from it.
We grow from sharing experiences.
Love ya zillions,
I’m the Brand Strategist and Head of Marketing for Paul Gough Media — and what we do?
We use Digital Marketing Strategies to help great Healthcare Professionals, become even more successful business owners, and live extraordinary lives (while serving more people — who need their help).
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