The equation seems like a simple one: working out plus eating right equals getting fit. But what if you could actually improve your progress by letting a little dust gather on your gym shoes?
Although it seems counterintuitive, time off from training could actually make you – to quote Daft Punk – harder, better, faster, stronger.
Here are the crucial reasons why you should take a break from exercise if you want to see gains.
#1 Avoid Burnout
Even if you’re obsessed with spinning or can’t imagine a week without CrossFit, doing the same activity over and over again can start to feel stale.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that “boredom” ranks pretty low on the list of powerful motivators. That old cliché about absence and the heart applies to fitness, too. A few days away will remind you why you love it and make you work twice as hard when you get back.
#2 Get Stronger
Muscles aren’t built while the weights are in your hands. Real growth happens while you’re recovering from lifting, when your body rebuilds itself after being put to the test.
Granting your body extended recovery time can end up making you stronger in the long run. Don’t be surprised if you reach new personal bests when you’re fresh off an exercise break.
#3 Reduce Stress
Both mind and body endure serious stress during your exercise regime. You may feel pressure to squeeze workouts into an already-busy schedule, or may be skipping sleep in order to do it.
A week off can give you time to rest up, recharge, and focus on other things you’ve been ignoring. With those burdens off your back, you’ll be reinvigorated for gym time.
#4 Address The Issues
What have you been neglecting in your relentless pursuit of bigger biceps? Balance out your intense training with stretching, meditation, or a gentle yoga class.
An exercise break is also the perfect time to assess any injuries you may have incurred. What seems like a minor inconvenience now could become a severe limitation if left untreated.
#5 Shift Your Focus
Be honest: what’s really working for you and what isn’t? Use your no-workout week to critically evaluate your fitness plan.
Determine whether your performance objectives are right for you or you need a change. Reappraise your nutrition strategy and make adjustments where needed. By the time you’re back from the break, you’ll be refreshed, refocused, and better aligned with your goals.