The good thing – and sometimes bad thing – about working out is that it is addicting. Once a person can get through the first couple weeks of a new exercise plan, their brains start to log in working out as just part of the day, like eating. People get hooked on working out as a scientific fact; as somebody once said, if they could bottle up the endorphins released during physical activity, it would be more addictive than any opiates.
People must remember that although working out can be addicting, it is essential to take that downtime for recovery. That’s true even in professional sports, as sometimes the best NFL odds for the week aren’t on the team that trained hardest – but the one that trained smartest. Here are some reasons why downtime is an equally important part of training as lifting weights or doing cardio:
Time To Repair Fibers
The whole process of lifting weights, or even running for that matter, involves the tearing of fiber and breaking down the muscles in general. It makes sense then that giving muscles a rest is when they can regrow and be ready for the next workout.
Some people like to put a positive spin on idle time, not calling them ‘off days’ but instead ‘growth days.’ That’s not a mislabel, as muscles are growing back and repairing themselves when given the opportunity.
One Good Workout Is Better Than Two Bad Ones
When you exercise, not only are your muscle fibers being stretched and tousled, but you’re also burning up the fuel in your body that makes these workouts possible. Glycogen, in particular, gets severely drained when working out, so off days should be used to replenish that fuel with foods like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Some people may prefer to ‘power through’ because they think they feel fine, but what they’re doing is risking injury while also having an inferior workout because they just don’t have the energy to go full strength. Overtraining will lead to irritability, sleeplessness, and mental exhaustion – all the things that are meant to be avoided by the feel-good endorphins of an efficient workout.
The reason many people ‘power through’ is that they don’t want to regress to their non-working-out shelves. The threat of one off day turning into two or three is a genuine concern for many people.
The best approach with off days – or growth days – is to still make them part of your workout journey, like NFL players do to improve Vegas NFL odds. You don’t have to be utterly lazy on an off day; a brisk walk can be a significant mental health boost while practicing yoga is an excellent way to keep expanding your body’s muscle memory.
Off days can be productive for workouts the rest of the week too. Since you aren’t committed to the gym for 45 minutes to an hour, use that time to meal prep or try out new recovery recipes like a praline sweet potato casserole or black bean and spinach burgers.
Signs You Need a Break
Rest days should be incorporated into your weekly schedule, but it’s essential to be flexible and take maybe even unscheduled time off if your body is telling you to do so. There’s a good soreness after a workout, but persistent pain means your muscles are still trying to recover and should be given some time off.
Physical burnout can cause mood changes that simply ‘sucking it up’ cannot fix. Sometimes it’s very critical to get a workout in even when you don’t want to, but crankiness, anger, and irritability may be a sign that your serotonin and cortisol levels are off.
The perfect amount of exercise makes us sleep better, so if you’re finding yourself tossing and turning at night, it could be because cortisol and adrenaline levels have changed from your body being depleted by over-exerting. This can be made worse at night through the use of electronics, such as using your phone to check NFL lines.
Ultimately just listen to your body; a rest day doesn’t hurt and can be incredibly beneficial to your long-term health goals.