The Journey had a great article yesterday about rest. This really couldn’t come at a better time for me and this is why…
I need that reminder that it is ok to rest. I need to be reminded that I am supposed to rest. I am one of those people that like schedules when it comes to exercising and it helps me stay consistent. However, with schedules I have always had the thinking that I need to exercise every day, and push myself to it’s limits each time in order to get healthy. Well…that really isn’t the best advice or the best thing for your body and my body has taken its toll the last few years as a result of that poor advice.
Even now…three years into this journey…I’m doing it again.
This morning I woke up with a headache. This isn’t just one day of a headache…I have been sick now for a few weeks. I feel great one day and push myself hard at the gym…next day I am back with a headache or laying on the couch most of the day with my inhaler in my hand because breathing is more of a chore than it is a natural body response. I know that this sickness I have is all asthma/congestion related but still…it is annoying. The alarm goes off at 4:35am and my head is pounding. I don’t have much motivation to be running, bending over and lifting weights or any desire to sit in a dark room with music blaring when my head is yelling at me. My body is ready for some rest and sleep is probably the right thing for me on days like today, which is exactly what I ended up doing this morning.
Right now, I am not needing rest because I am overexercising but I am needing rest because my body is trying to recover from being sick, which could be a result from overexercising (or the fact that I run a day care…probably a combination of the two). I have been known though to overexercise and have seen major plateus because I haven’t allowed my body time to recover and get the rest that it needed. I have gone months at a time doing workouts twice a day, cutting back on my calories at the same time and then disappointed because I was still at the same weight that I was or because the tape measure was at the same numbers. That is frustrating! You work your butt off as hard as you can in every single moment that you have available, even getting up early when the sun doesn’t even start to appear for another 2+ hours…only to have ZERO results.
How do you know if you are not getting enough rest and in fact, overexercising? Well, here are a few hints that your body might be giving you and ones that I have experienced myself:
- You have been exercising consistently and have always had energy…suddenly you don’t seem to have enough energy to exercise or get through what a normal workout is for you. For me, I can sometimes tell this when my arms or legs just feel heavy and the strength that I usually have and feel while I am lifting weights is just…gone. I have also seen this when I go to do a routine that is normal for me and I can’t do as much as my normal. Example…I am doing a push press with a barbell and I know that I can easily do 10 to 12 reps with 50 pounds. As I start my routine with the 50 pounds I realize that I am only able to do 7 or 8 and it is the first set of the day, where I should have the most energy.
- You have a hard time getting to sleep or getting a good night sleep.
- Instead of feeling energized after you are done working out you have seemed to use up all of your energy and are just dragging.
- You are sore…for awhile longer than normal. If you are just starting to workout…don’t necessarily listen to this one because I’ve noticed there are different levels of being sore. In the beginning you are just starting to work those muscles again so of course they are going to be sore. You do need to take some rest days too but the sore you are experiencing is mostly because you haven’t used these muscles in awhile and now you are wanting them to work. If you have been diligently working out and have had days where you don’t get sore but all of a sudden your workouts are giving you pain for a few days…you may need to rest. Your muscles are trying to tell you something and are having a hard time repairing themselves. Here is a very recent example of this for me…I just finished up a phase in a strength training program that I am working on. This plan is broken down into three phases and I just finished Phase 2. Phase 2 was 3 workouts a week that were full body workouts with days of rest or cardio in between. Those days of rest are important because you just killed your muscles and worked your ENTIRE body with the exercises you were doing and they need a chance to recuperate before you go kill them again. My days of rest included spinning and boxing…yeah, not really rest. One of these “rest days” was working my lower body pretty intensely The other was 2 hours of pretty much…another complete body workout. My body was tired, exhausted and yelling at me to take a break. I had days where I would go to boxing and be sore from Sunday to Wednesday afternoon. At first I thought that I just had DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and some of it probably was, but not all of it. I have had many days where I was extremely sore (don’t want to sit on the toilet kindof sore because your quads hurt so bad) and yet I would still go do a 100+ barbell squat anyways.
- You are down in the dumps. Overexercising can lead to some sad moments…you know those days when you are just ready to cry because you don’t think anyone is understanding you or listening. 🙂 Yeah…your body wants you to just relax with a chick flick and some healthy movie snacks.
- You seem to not be able to recover as fast from a cold or illness. (Yep…that is me right now)
Those are the big cues that your body will make when it is time to take a break. You may need 1 day to recover…maybe more. If you don’t take rest days intentionally with your workouts then your body will just take one for you. It will happen one way or another.
Is there a program I can do to make sure that I get the rest I need? There are a lot of different ways you can exercise and get rest! There are so many different options and ways to do this that I don’t know if a right answer is truly out there. I know that some people just want to be told what to do and when, especially as they are starting to exercise. Truthfully, this is something you have to experiment with and figure out on your own. You know your body better than anyone else and you are the one who will need to listen and decipher what your body is saying. No one else can do that for you. If you don’t know where to start though…try something like one of these combinations listed below with a workout from The Journey – Just click here to see what we have made for those just starting out (FYI, active recovery is something that isn’t very intense, like walking. The workouts from The Journey are full body workouts and we rotate the muscle groups being used throughout the weeks and also focus on more combination exercises that use more muscle groups in your body than an isolated muscle exercise, like a bicep curl):
- Day 1 – Upper body workout. Day 2 – rest or active recovery, Day 3 – Lower Body Workout, Day 4 – rest or active recovery, Day 5 – Core Workout
- Day 1 – Upper Body Workout, Day 2 – Lower Body Workout, Day 3 – rest or active recovery, Day 4 – Upper body and core, Day 5 – Legs
- Day 1 – Full Body Workout, Day 2 – rest or active recover, Day 3 – Full Body Workout, Day 4 – rest or active recovery, Day 5 – Full Body Workout, Day 6 – rest or active recovery
Your body will recover and when it does…enjoy your workout again!