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A Rest is Development

by Alasdair McClintock on Sunday 29 October 2017


When was the last time you felt healthy, but did nothing? For a lot of you it’s probably been a while.

In this busy world of ours, taking a day off can have a bit of a stigma attached to it. Especially for those hell-bent on being successful and ticking off their goals. It can feel like wasted time, laziness and a momentum-killing exercise that could throw you wildly off track.

But it can also be incredibly beneficial. 

Firstly, if you’re working out every day, chances are you don’t hate working out. So one day off won’t completely destroy all your motivation. 

Rest days don’t have to be cheat days either. If you do plan to spend your entire day off in the pub, making the most of a rare opportunity to drink at Happy Hour prices, well then, yes, your momentum might suffer. But that’s not really rest, is it? 

The rest days we’re talking about are meant to be quiet, reflective and revitalising. Have a cup of tea, lie in a hammock, read a book. If you really struggle to do nothing, try some active recovery, like light stretching or basic yoga, which can also be beneficial. 

It’s starting to sound like a pretty good day now, isn’t it?  

If you’re building muscle, you should switch up the region you’re working on each day so the body has time to repair those muscles. That’s probably the first thing you learnt when you started weight training. But the mind should be considered a muscle too, and it is by far the most important one.

Sports Physiotherapist and Physical Performance Coach, Sean Fyfe, says, “When it comes to training, recovery strategies, including planned rest days, are a critical part of an overall training program.

“Without appropriate recovery, the body doesn’t remodel effectively post training load or replenish energy systems, and the mind doesn’t have the opportunity to restore reserves of will power.

“If you want to get the most out of your training, plan your recovery just like you plan your workouts.” 

He further explained that different factors like workout intensity, your age and the total amount of your weekly training, will all influence how much recovery time you’ll need. So, if you’re not quite the spring chicken you once were, you might have to give yourself more than one day off.

But don’t be too down on yourself if that’s the case. Most Olympic athletes implement rest days into their professional training plans. The older they are, the more time they know they need to recover. It becomes a case of quality over quantity and it can be very important to avoid injuries.

Even younger athletes can suffer from overdoing it. Take cricket for example. The mildly controversial resting of Australia’s fast bowlers stemmed from the fact that too many were breaking down with injuries due to overuse. 

Most of the players were dead against being rested, but it is a good example of us not always knowing what’s best for us. Or, as is often the case, knowing what’s good for us, but doing the complete opposite. 

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