Training and being in the gym is what brings us joy. The self-inflicted pain, the tortuous leg days and the gut wrenching intensity we employ on the daily brings so much fulfillment to our lives that we can't imagine a day without it. So if that's the case, why then do we incorporate rest days within our programs? We have all been told that the body does need to rest so that it can recover and grow but does this require a complete shut down once or twice a week or perhaps even a third day to acquire gains? I'm not completely sold on this idea and here are three things to consider prior to taking a day off from the gym.
Do You Really Need a Break?
If your training is at an all-time high and everything is feeling good and you're feeling strong and full of zest and excitement to hit the gym every single day, why not ride that out? If all things are working for you just fine and there's not one thing in your head or one indication from your body telling you that you need a break, why take one? Just because a prescribed rest day once or twice a week is what most people do, doesn't mean it always applies to you and what you're currently experiencing. Rather than forcing yourself to stay out of the gym for a day here and there, if you don't feel like taking a day off, don't! Keep training until something tells you it's time to take a break and trust me, you'll know when it's time.
Bring Up Lagging Body Parts
If you still believe that having rest day is crucial to your gains, how about then just working on some body parts that need a little more attention than the rest. You don't have to go in and complete a full blown leg day or back day, but you can put in some work on smaller body parts such as calves, biceps, traps and rear delts. No one can have enough growth in these areas of the physique so if you want, consider a day like this in the gym as an active day off in that you're not punishing your central nervous system again but you're still going in and being productive in working on improving some of your weaker muscle groups. Intensity doesn't have to be super high and focus on getting great pumps instead of trashing your body.
Break a Sweat Everyday
Just from a general health standpoint, I think it's very important to be active in some way shape or form each and every day. Heart and lung health coupled with the increase in adult onset diabetes as well as the obesity epidemic we are facing is real and we should be doing all that we can to prevent these things from happening to us. As a health educator myself, I think it's tremendously important to make general health the first priority in your life, prior to your bodybuilding goals, simply because without your health you have nothing. A day off where you do nothing but sit around all day is a bad day. You don't necessarily have to do any resistance training, but something that elevates your heart rate and makes you sweat such as going for a hike, playing sports, hitting the heavy bag or going for a bike ride, is an excellent idea for the days you don't want to go to the gym.
Don't get me wrong here, rest days are most certainly an important part of the bodybuilding lifestyle and considerably important when focusing on recovery. I'm just saying you don't always have to take a day or two off a week if you think you can handle a high frequency training schedule or if your body is telling you to keep going. Be instinctual when deciding your breaks, say no to the standard protocols you'll see out there for training, find what works best for you and always say YES to a new pair of Mindset training shoes from Heyday Footwear.
Author : Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.