Are you resting enough between your sessions? The last thing anybody wants to do when you are busting your butt to get in shape or shatter your personal goals is to take a day or two off to rest. A big misconception is if I take time off from exercising I am not improving, but this statement could not be any further from the truth. It is extremely important to not only rest your body physically but also mentally.
If you are increasing muscular strength and incorporating a weight lifting regiment I would not suggest lifting more than 5 days a week or working out a particular muscle group twice within a 48 hour time period. Lifting weights puts stress on your muscles that create microscopic tears in your muscle that need time to repair. It is important to understand that you do not increase muscle strength when you are throwing the weights around in the gym, but rather when you are in your deep sleep or chowing down on whole foods. I find it best to incorporate a 2 to 3 day continuous rest period every week, by taking these long breaks you are giving your body ample amount of time to repair any deep tears in the muscle that are still in the process of being repaired. I have also learned by trial and error that taking 6 or 7 days off every couple of months will completely change your mental aptitude of exercising, taking these long bouts reinforce how important fitness is to you and why you work so hard to become better.
Not only is it important to rest but to rest with purpose. If you are just taking days off from exercising and spend your entire day eating junk food sitting on the couch and staying up late drinking and partying you will not see any progress. It is important to get at least 8 hours of sleep, if you are just getting 4 or even 6 hours of sleep your body does not reach its Rem cycle also know as the deep cycle of sleep in which your body is repaired at an accelerated rate.Your muscles are not the only part of your body that needs rest after heavy lifting session or intense exercise regiments. Your brain is taxed nearly just as much as the muscles you are punishing in the gym. The brain needs just as much rest and sleep as your sore muscles, when you reach the 8 hour sleep threshold you regain your alertness and drive that helps push through the most intense of workouts.
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Consuming whole foods with nutritional values in your diet is just as important as the physical sleep you get. Eating fatty junk food on your rest days will instantly turn to excess weight since there is no immediate exercise taking place to burn the calories off. Make sure to eat a high protein diet with healthy fats that are found in foods such as eggs and avocados. I find it very helpful to find some sort of light exercise to occupy your fitness craze on the rest days such as biking, hiking or going for a long walk around a park or neighborhood.
If you make an effort to take the time off from the gym and get some good quality rest in you will come back to your workouts with a tank full of energy and the mental preparedness to set all sorts of personal records whether you are lifting a new record weight or completing more reps than you thought possible. Get all of those Z’s in and you will be ready take on any fitness summits you have out there looking down on you!