Stop, pause and reflect.
When did you last take a small segment of time to simply take stock of everything?
Everything being your journey.
We spend so much time focusing on what we want, instead of what we have.
A favorite habit of mine is to take some “down time” this is usually a complete week off from all exercise. No lifting, sprinting….nothing! I must confess it took me some time to accustom myself to embrace these “off weeks” or “reflection weeks” as I prefer to brand them.
I use these in a cycle fashion, once every so many weeks (depending on how hard I’ve worked/how the body feels) I’ll use an off week. A good average for me would probably be one week off around every 12 weeks or so.
There’s too often a reluctance from people to follow suit, wrongly, they fear 12 weeks of work (maybe more) will somehow all become “undone” if they spend a measly week away from the gym!
A really great way to truly determine whether or not you are entitled to some off time is to simply see if you actually want it. If you do, then your body clearly recognizes the need for some balance.
The balance of:
Work and rest
Catabolism and anabolism
Yin and yang
If you’re climbing the walls on the very first day of your time off, chances are you really didn’t need time off and therefore need to suck it up and let the real work begin!
Another good gauge for how warranted some down time is, is the quality of your sleep – when you’re working hard for sustained periods of time, your sleep will suffer. The stress hormone cortisol is chronically high and your body is in “fight or flight” mode.
From personal experience, I can tell you this:
- My sleep ALWAYS improves during a week away from training (8 hours un-interrupted)
- I actually LOSE fat! Whilst keeping my diet the exact same as it is during training. (No it isn’t muscle loss), as I determine this via the use of skin fold calipers – evidently this is due to a reduction in cortisol. We all know (or should) that cortisol is a FAT STORING hormone.
- I also return to training like a starved lion released from a cage with month’s supply of meat thrown into the impound! I come back aching to achieve new targets and goals
During the “off” week I go through my logs and records and give myself a metaphorical “pat on the back” for goals I achieved and also a “telling off” for ones that escaped me.
There’s some magic to this……..
This allows you to re-evaluate your capabilities, reinforce your inner strength and realize your ability to achieve.
In unison, it forces you to face and deal with those you didn’t accomplish, allows you to delve into why you didn’t.
And best of all………it gives you the perfect base of direction for your next cycle!
So you wanted to increase your squat by 50 pounds, you increased it by 70!
But you wanted to shave 30 seconds of your mile time? You only managed 15.
Lower volume/frequency of squatting and a higher volume/frequency of mile runs!
See how that process can apply to everyone?
The take home here is, don’t be afraid to rest. It actually benefits you far more than you realize….in fact, it is critical as you advance. Whilst you rest, assess thoroughly how much progress you made and be sure to reward yourself for your progress!
Make any un-attained goals the cornerstone for your eagerly awaited return to the gym and go after them as if you were on a quest to locate a soul mate or a long lost friend!
Life comes in cycles………..
Work + rest = health and progress!
Work without rest = degeneration
Rest without work = procrastination
Start finding your balance today.