When to Take Time off Training

Sometimes we just need some time off training, stepping things down a level and giving our body and mind some relaxation….

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” – Douglas Pagels

The problem comes when we don’t know when our body is telling us to take a few days off or step the training down a notch. I really think this depends on how you are training as several different different factors should be taken into account.

Type of Training

– Are you training in the gym doing high volume training a few times a week?

– Are you doing Intense short Workouts like CrossFit almost daily?

– Are you doing a lot of running or cardiovascular work daily?

– Or Only Training 2-4 times a week with sensible sessions?

All these should be taken into account as each creates a different strain on our body and will cause need for rest at different rates… Doing intense and long exercise sessions daily will call for a break every few weeks;

If for instance you are doing High Volume training in the gym 4-6 times a week, you should take some time off once a month and tone down your training, maybe doing some body weight exercises and Low Intensity Cardio like Walking or Light Running and stretching. This is because each of the gym sessions you are doing give your Central Nervous System a hit, taking a week off will allow your body to recover, grow and leave you fresh for when you hit the weights again.

Make your Training Work for You

On the other hand if you are doing what I like to call Broad Based Fitness which would consist of a possibly 4-6 days training a week in which you did a mix of the following for instance;

A mix of these could easily cover 4-6 days and If you did some walking a kept active on other days, playing sports with friends etc. You have a Fitness Program that will not burn you out and allow you to go without needing to take time off your training as the training does not involve long hours and already involves stress relieving activities like Playful Runs and Yoga which will allow your muscles to de-stress and your mind to quiet down achieving a constant state of recovery…..

“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep.” – Earl Nightingale

Signs of Overtraining

This is very important as your body usually does a good job of telling you when you need some time off or add more variety to your lifestyle, some tell tale signs are:

– Constant feeling of heaviness in your legs, it may feel hard to walk up stairs and your legs will have lost their bounce when trying to sprint…..

– Nagging Tension headaches which are light headaches which radiate around your head, as if its being crushed.

– Less Enthusiasm about sport, training, eating….

– Possibly start getting colds and infections frequently due to lowered immunity

– Constantly Tired and taking naps, sleeping long hours….

Our bodies are great at telling us what to do, we just need to listen and react. So keep an eye out for how your feeling and react accordingly.

What to do?

First determine how hard you are training and how your body feels from the training. If you are constantly sore, or your muscles and joints feel beat up from too much running and cardio then it would be a good idea to take a few days off training all together doing some:

  • Walking
  • Light Stretching
  • Taking Naps and Meditating
  • Going out with friends and family more
  • Have a beer with dinner (helps me relax anyway)
  • Get to Bed Early
  • Eat Plenty of Healthy, Natural fats. They will nourish your body.

Alternatively I feel that if your training has enough variety and puts a positive stress on your body its pretty easy to go as long as you like without taking time off. Life will always throw you periods when training will become hard due to time constraints or social occasions cropping up; this will give you natural, unplanned time off training.

Its important to listen to your body, it will usually tell you when you need to give your body a break, but if you train smart your fitness programs should be a lifestyle enhancer which allows you to feel good all the time!

Feel Free to Comment with any Questions! Also check out this NYT article on Overtraining…….

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