Get Leaner By Taking Time Off From The Gym
The human body is an amazing machine. It is capable of putting up with and even thriving in our modern world that is often less than ideal. We get on just fine, despite our modern lifestyle fraught with physically compromised positions such as sitting (at a desk, in the car/bus, on the couch), ingesting harmful chemicals in our foods, and breathing in toxic fumes in the atmosphere. Despite our best efforts, we all are subject to these environmental toxins. Thankfully, we can mitigate the detrimental effects of these stressors by eating minimally processed foods, standing as much as possible, and having a consistent movement practice through exercise.
However, as Americans, we live in a culture where “more is better.” We believe in a world where super-sized effort equals super-sized results. ”If 3-4 workouts a week is good for me, why wouldn’t 6-7 be even better?” Unfortunately, there is a point of diminishing returns. A point where 10x effort does not equal 10x return. So once you reach that point, what can you do? The answer lies in one of Unite’s core values: train smarter, not harder.
This is accomplished through the smart programming that puts an emphasis on periodization, and making sure to change things up regularly. But just as importantly, as someone who has trained consistently at Unite for 7, going on 8 years, I’ve come to value the importance of rest and recovery. If you are someone who feels guilty that you “only” made it in to workout 5 times this past week, I have great news for you: No matter what your goals are, you will bring yourself closer to them if you take some more time off in between workouts.
R&R for Fat Loss
“I’ve increased the amount of workouts I do each week, and I’m still fat!”
Constantly hitting the gym on a daily basis in an attempt to lose weight is a recipe for frustration and self-sabotage. Over time you reach an overtrained state, where fat loss is nearly impossible due to adrenal fatigue, which will result in excess food cravings, a lack of energy, and poor mood. We’ve said it before, but you will see much better results if you allow your body to rest, eat nutritionally dense foods, and treat yourself well. Unfortunately it takes a ton of exercise (more than you have time for) to burn off just a little bit of that unhealthy food you just ate.
R&R for Injury Prevention
“I work out almost every day and I’m starting to feel strange aches and pains”
In today’s world of high intensity exercise, we are able to push our bodies to the limits. Push to the limits one day, and your body will be able to bounce back. Do it over and over again over the course of weeks, months, or even years will end in disaster in the form of a devastating injury. Recovery will allow the muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons to repair and be stronger than ever. But without rest, you are taxing all of the systems that are designed to keep you moving to the point where something will eventually break. For those of you who are addicted to high intensity workouts and simply just love to move your body every day, just think of the cost. If you get hurt you will be out of commission for months or even life. Try going for long walks, take a restorative yoga class or simply just stretch at home and you can feel good about doing something with your body that day.
R&R for Improved Performance
“I haven’t been able to run as fast or lift as heavy as I used to.”
Training in and of itself does not make you stronger. In actuality it is very destructive to your body. It is the time in between workouts, where the muscle fibers are repaired that you realize the strength gains and benefits of exercise. If you find yourself losing strength, speed, or have been stagnant in your gains, take some time to allow the body to rebuild itself, and you’ll be back on track before you know it.
How to maximize your recovery: or, Making the most of your down time
The body is more equipped to go from 0-60 much better than it is to go from 60-0. Most of your brain is set up this way for arousal, survival. It’s a simple evolutionary response. Back in the caveman days, if you came up on an angry sabertooth tiger, you wouldn’t have time to “get loose” and warm up before you start your 100% sprint to safety. You have to go, and you have to go NOW.
Because it was not an absolute necessity for survival, there are fewer triggers that send us into sedation, down-regulation, the drousal state. There are ways that you can create the natural de-stimulation necessary to create the environment for relaxation, and in turn recovery to occur.
Compression socks have been proven to improve recovery times in athletes, by temporarily improving blood flow, thus flushing out the muscles. Compression is a great tool to help decrease the amount of recovery time needed between workouts, similar to the ice bath. Another, cheaper way to get a similar result is to lie down with your legs elevated over your heart. This restricts the flow of blood to the lower body, turning down the sympathetic response.
When was the last time you went directly from a deep tissue massage to feeling like you wanted to immediately run a 10k? It doesn’t happen, because deep touch creates condition of relaxation. Obviously not all of us can afford a deep tissue massage every day, so that’s where foam rolling and self-massage comes in. Using a variety of tools and techniques, you can induce that same feeling you get after a massage.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
Sleeping more is not always an option. In fact, sleeping more can be detrimental in some cases. Ever feel extra drowsy after sleeping in? The key is to improve the quality, and increase the amount of time you reach deep sleep. Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room. Any stimulus to any of your “on-switches” will turn into arousal and diminished sleep quality. If you are unable to black out your room, wear a sleep mask, and ear plugs. I’ve noticed much better sleep after getting a sleep mask through increased dreams, and feeling more refreshed in the morning.
Spread your water intake out throughout the day. Levels of hydration needed are different for everyone, but a good rule of thumb is to take your bodyweight, divide by 2, and that is how many ounces you should drink per day.