5 Reasons to Take a Rest Week (or Three)

I feel like a brand new woman!!

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Double pigeon-posing it out after some sprints, like a BOSS.

For the past two weeks, my exercise routine, in whole, has consisted of some moderate yoga, brisk walks with Niko, and mobility work. After two weeks off of formal exercise, I’m back!

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Not that what I’ve been doing for the past week couldn’t be the extend of my exercise, period, but I’m ready to slowly add back intervals and strength.

I kicked it off today with a very short 10-20-30 treadmill sprint workout. I did this one. The sprinting portion only lasted about 20 minutes, and beforehand I did my hip mobility routine, which also took about 20 minutes.

I’ve talked a few times before about how I’m a big proponent of rest weeks every now and then. I typically take 4-5 a year, and decided to give my bod some good ol’ R&R a couple weeks ago.

However, when the week (actually a deload week, since I was still technically doing some activity, just way way scaled back) was over, I knew I still wasn’t ready to go back to my workouts. So I took another week off. Heck, all day Sunday I thought I was going to go ahead and take a third week off. However, yesterday morning proved that what I thought was my body needing rest was actually just from falling asleep after 1:00 and a couple glasses of wine, shared with good friends. But that’s neither here or there Winking smile

When I woke up today, I felt ready to get back to it. I felt strong.

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I can remember a time where I would have just ticked off the days as they went by (counting them down, actually) and then jumped full fledged back into my workouts on that 7th day (and on the 7th day, she did heavy lifting and HIIT.) Heck, I can even remember a time where I’d run away screaming if you told me not to exercise for a week. And that’s just sad

If I would have done that this time around, I would have come back weaker, prone to injury, and perhaps I’d even wind up in burn-out land.

So today, I challenge my fellow fitness fanatics, who may sometimes do more than they should in the gym, to take a deload week. Or two. Or three. Or even a whole month – whether it’s scheduled, or your body is letting you know it’s time through its various aches and pains (BEFORE they become injuries.)

Here’s Why:

1. Give the Body a Tune Up.

After months of running, dead lifting, cross-fitting, sprinting – or whatever it is your do, your joints, bones, muscles – body, has taken a beating. It’s constantly being expected to output maximum effort day after day, with typically only a day or two off a week. It takes longer than a day to heal a cut, right? Sometimes, it also takes more than a day to repair the wear and tear done to our muscles through exercise.

2. Focus on other aspects of physical/mental/emotional well-being.

Taking a deload period doesn’t mean you can’t do any form of physical activity at all. It simply means taking a (rather large) step back from the intensity of your workouts. You can determine the how big that step back is. Mine was limiting any cardio to walks with my dog, and any strength training to moderate yoga, foam rolling, or mobility/range of motion training. Basically, just take it easy! Enjoy yourself! Meditate, do some gentle yoga, maybe go for an easy-moderate hike, practice mobility, read a book.

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3. Come Back Stronger.

Our strength and level of fitness is built in the recovery period between our workouts. You can actually come back from a deload week(s) stronger than your last workout. It takes at least 3 weeks of no activity to start seeing strength loss.

4. Avoid Injury.

In fact, I majorly blame my bum hip on not taking enough rest when training for my first half marathon. I was so excited to train for that race that I became obsessed with my training runs, just running through the hip pain. I remember the run when the pain became intolerable – it’s funny how only then did I realize it had become a problem. Silly past-tense Paige. Had I just taken a week off, I may not have this injury at all.

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At the starting line of that damn first half marathon. (ok, the actual race was pretty awesome, and I’m pretty sure the only time I truly experienced a “runner’s high,” so I should say “damn that training for it” instead. But I digress.)

5. Be a Happy Camper.

Look at your deload week(s) as an extra 4-5 hours available in your week! I’ve gotten so much done in the past couple weeks caught up on all of my real housewives shows . Taking a breather for a minute was totally worth realizing that Lisa Vanderpump is still one bad bi****.

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It’s pretty fabulous. And now that I’m back to it, I look forward to my workouts again.

All that said, I’m choosing to ease back into my workouts – not jumping back in where I left off. I’m ready to switch it up anyway. Here’s this week’s tentative plan:

Monday – sprints + hip mobility
Tuesday – Off
Wednesday – vinyasa
Thursday – pull up work
Friday – deadlift work + 15 min. kettlebell workout
Saturday – gentle yoga
Sunday – Off

Toodles! Open-mouthed smile

How often (if ever) do you take rest weeks or deload weeks?

Has over training ever lead to injury for you?

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Comments

  1. I completely understand taking off weeks and days. I take them whenever my body needs them due to stress or sickness. I had the last 2 weeks off also other than 2 good workouts. It is exam time in grad school, plus a trip home for Thanksgiving, plus I had a girls trip weekend, and I also had a bad cold in there. I think my body needed a break and I had no time to even sleep! I am getting back to it today and hope it goes well!

  2. I’m not as good about rest weeks as I should be. But I do try very hard to listen to my body when it’s asking for rest and give it what it needs.
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..Fitness Enthusiast Gift ListMy Profile

  3. yes m’am! heck i took 8 months off. and now, i am very aware of when i need breaks. We need to let the body rebuild, rest, recover. Always.

    smart woman YOU!
    cottercrunch recently posted..I Had PlansMy Profile

  4. Ohhh YES, rest is goooood, not just for the body but the soul. I hate to see my fellow fit friends constantly railing against rest days, it’s so unhealthy to GO GO GO all the time with no pull-back days or weeks. It may sound counterintuitive to some but rest is JUST as important as a killer workout, I wish more would see it that way — SO glad that you wrote this post!!
    Jess recently posted..Don’t waste a second.My Profile

  5. Amen to that! I’ve been guilty of not resting when my body needed it, and I paid the price. Athletes forget that rest is part of the training package.
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..#Running and #Triathlon Books for the HolidaysMy Profile

  6. All SO true! I’m a huge advocate of REST! The concept of rest has certainly taught me a lot over the past year, and I couldn’t be more of a firm believer in it.
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..Week 22: Gaining the Title “Mom”My Profile

  7. Yes! I hate it when people think it’s acceptable to go for months (or years) at a time without breaks. A runner friend of mine takes maybe 2 days off a month from exercising. A MONTH – that’s insane! I’m planning to deload over Christmas and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..freEDom: Enjoying Christmas For All It’s Worth.My Profile

  8. I don’t know if I’ve taken a whole week off unless I”ve been injured, however, taking 2-3 days off sometimes works wonders. I’m considering doing it soon just because I’ve been feeling a wee bit tired these days…
    Amy @ Second City Randomness recently posted..Sometimes… (Round 2)My Profile

  9. I NEED, NEED, NEED to do this & soon! Thanks for posting the benefits! I’m terrible about taking rest days & weeks & really need to get around the mental aspect of it. I used to run a LOT more than I do now & was getting injured a LOT — duh. Scaling back = less injury ;)
    Katie @ KatieEnPursuit recently posted..Tracking my Fiber & the Housewives LipsMy Profile

  10. This makes me feel better right now as I’m pretty much sidelined with a random wrist injury from power cleans last week. Do you know what you need your wrist for when working out? EVERYTHING! I was frustrated yesterday beyond belief but today I’m trying to tell myself a week (or 2, or however many is needed to heal this thing) will be good for my whole body, not just my wrist. Walking and some light running sound pretty relaxing right now :)
    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Chocolate donuts with coconut vanilla bean icingMy Profile

  11. I love this. We often don’t realize how much we’ve worn down our bodies with training until it’s too late. My knee strain this summer was from too much, too soon and I’m still paying for it (some residual pain every now and again).
    Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian recently posted..Where Do I Go from Here?My Profile

  12. Love this! In the past couple years I’ve been learning just how important rest and recovery is and it’s been life changing. Sometimes I just need a week off from tough workouts and my body thanks me when I take it!
    Danielle (@CleanFoodCreativeFitness) recently posted..Paleo Snickerdoodle Cake CookiesMy Profile

  13. Fun and informative post! Rest is sooo important, I never believed it until I hit my late 20’s.. and I can only imagine the importance of balance as I get older! :)
    Sarah (Shh…Fit Happens) recently posted..Holiday Fitness ChallengesMy Profile

  14. I LOVE this! I’m thinking I need to take a week or so off. I got a bad IT band injury from running too much and not stretching or resting properly a couple of years ago.
    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted..What is “Fit”My Profile

  15. I used to be a afraid of taking time off from any sort of exercise! Now i welcome it with open arms and enjoy every second of it!
    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots recently posted..Healthy Buffalo Chicken DipMy Profile

  16. Thanks for this post! I woke up this morning feeling bad for missing another day of workouts (I rested Sunday and Monday). Obviously sleeping through my alarm for an hour two days in a row is a sign that my body needs a break, also the pain in my hips and back should not be ignored. I just started getting myself in to shape this year so I am still scared that I am going to take a long break and reverse all my hard work. After reading your post, I think I will play it by ear the rest of the week.
    Adrienne @ Happy Ramblings recently posted..Foodie Pen Pal-NovemberMy Profile

  17. I need to take this advice! I’ve had several injuries creep up on me over the past few months, but instead of completely stopping, I just chose to keep going and work the parts which were uninjured. WRONG IDEA. haha, I’m so stubborn, but I think at this point my body is crying for the rest.
    Christy recently posted..#MotivationalMondays- Four Songs WorkoutMy Profile

  18. I completely agree! I took a week off for Thanksgiving and managed to increase my lifts on everything afterwards. So helpful!
    twoffs recently posted..Fitness: Before & After PicsMy Profile

  19. Thanks for this post Paige! I heart it. As much as I know I could *probably* use a rest week, I have a very, very hard time taking them. I’ve been active my entire life (competitive swimming since I was about 6, which meant 2 a day workouts almost daily). It’s very hard to convince my body it really does need rest. You post about it very un-preachy and with lots of knowledge, which makes it easier for me to understand how my body can benefit from rest! I may not be injured, but I’ve stressed my body tons, with not only exercise, but added stress like anxiety and things. You’re amazing!:)
    Lisa recently posted..November FavoritesMy Profile

  20. Ahh, so that’s double pigeon pose! I thought it was called something else, but yes I have done it before.

    I take a deload week every four weeks, where I work at 50% normal capacity. I’m on a deload right now actually. I usually shorten up my accessory work too and spend more time on mobility during this week. I need to get a shirt made saying I’m doing a deload, so people don’t judge me for the puny weights I’m lifting ;) Every 12 weeks, I take a full week off lifting. I love all the extra time I seem to have when I take time off!
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..A change of focusMy Profile

  21. I don’t know that I’ve taken weeks off unless they have been forced due to surgery. I have taken up to five days though and I will agree that you really do feel stronger afterwards. I think you should rest when you need it. I need a brain break in a big way though. Does that count? I could use a 3 week brain vacation. I’m glad you’re feeling better!
    Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) recently posted..Variation On A Theme or Flatbread Addiction Continued…My Profile

  22. Great post! Will feature on FB next week.
    Ali recently posted..Southwestern PastaMy Profile

  23. I agree, its nice to take a rest week every few months. My body appreciates it and loves getting back to the gym after a break!

    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.blogspot.com

  24. Oh, this post is perfect timing for me! (see attached post)

    It appears I’ve been overtraining, and well, it makes sense as it is difficult, a real challenge, for me to go 2 days without exercise. Sunday, I woke up and my body was not happy with me. It’s been hard to take a ‘rest week’ this week, especially since I’m smack in the middle of training for a race, but I know in the long it’ll be best. This post really inspired to take even MORE rest than I thought – thanks!
    hillary | nutrition nut on the run recently posted..On OvertrainingMy Profile

  25. I so needed to hear this….as I was feeling guilty as I lay in bed this morning for not getting up to run or exercise. I’ve been in a running rut for the past couple of weeks and haven’t felt like exercising much either. Feeling guilty thinking, I’m not going to be able to run when I start back or what if I never want to start back or thinking I’m steadily losing muscle because I’ve not been lifting……sigh….. So this was a good reminder that it’s okay to take a break and it’s even good for us. :)
    Samantha @ The More I Run recently posted..I’m in a Running RutMy Profile

  26. I just took a week off, kind of unintentionally due to food poisoning and a vacation. I was planning to work out while there, but… meh. ;)
    Kacy recently posted..She’s writing, she’s writing, she’s writing a novelMy Profile

  27. I’ve been on an exercise break since Aug 18th after injuring my knee during a charity bike ride. Still not quite recovered, but need to be patient. Getting fatter and unfitter by the minute. Looking so forward to starting again but my body is still telling me … not yet sunshine
    Mark @ fullhalfglass.com recently posted..Thank God Beds aren’t MirrorsMy Profile

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  1. [...] heart rest weeks! 5 reasons to take a rest week via Your Trainer [...]

  2. […] written about how important rest is in a solid fitness routine, but sometimes we can use a little reminder, myself […]

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