Hey everyone! A common theme I have recently seen is the debate over a rest day. Do we need them? How many do we need? When do I take it? Etc. Hopefully I can shed some light on the subject.
Rest days are exactly that, a day of rest in which we do not "train" or work out the body. And yes, we need rest days. I like to call them RECOVERY days, because that's exactly what we are doing. We are allowing our muscles and the systems in our body to recover from the tough workouts we do at Conquest. Recovery days vary from people to people, depending on the volume of training and also how the body adapts to volume.
When someone signs up at Conquest, I usually recommend two to three recovery days per week. If they haven't exercised in a long time, I advise them to come a day or two, and take a day off, and repeat that for a couple of weeks, so that they are working out 4 days per week.
For the member that has been coming for a month or longer, I recommend taking 2 days of recovery per week. And I like the 3 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off schedule. Two rest days is very common in our industry and seems to be the right amount of rest required for what we do.
Now let's talk about the members who just have to go 6 or 7 days per week. They love exercising, they want to make improvements fast, and they use every day to try and make gains. Our program actually supports a 7 day per week athlete. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday is typically a weightlifting session followed by a metabolic session. Thursdays are skill and metcon. Saturdays are metcon only with or without load, and Sunday is core and metcon. One could argue that because there isn't load every day, we can train all 7 days. And they might be right. But each person's ability to handle stress is different. And we should listen to our bodies and determine if we need a rest day.
A way to measure this is obviously fatigue in wods. Are we falling off in wods when we normally wouldn't. Are we lethargic and unmotivated before the wod? These are signs that rest is needed. Another great indicator that we need a rest day is how our weightlifting is going. There are certain central nervous system requirements needed to hit a 100% lift and/or a PR. This will normally not happen if our body requires a rest day. We have all been there. We plan on hitting a one rep max power clean, and for some reason we can't even hit our 95% rep. Super common. Take a rest day and come back and retry. Bam!
Our last group of people are the members who train 6 days per week on a competition training program. I assure you one day is pure rest, and that 6th day is a skill and long aerobic day, something that doesn't stress the joints, and most likely not loaded at all. This is the training I used to follow. That 6th day was skill and a long session of either running, rowing, biking, or my favorite....swimming. Some people call that 6th day an "active recovery day", and I kind of dig that term.
So as you can see, everyone fits into different categories, and there is no right or wrong method to taking rest days...UNLESS, we don't listen to our bodies. We MUST listen to our bodies and take rest. I would go even further and PLAN the rest days. That is the best course to take. We don't want to take rest days because we have pain in our joints. We want to take rest days to PREVENT pain in our joints. Also, if we train 7 days a week because we are so determined to improve at CF, yes, we will improve. Just due to sheer volume we will improve. However, if we take scheduled rest days and give our muscles, systems, and brain time to recharge, it's more likely that we will improve even FASTER. As Coach Seth likes to say, let's not suffer in wods, let's train SMARTER. And I 100% agree.
Lastly, don't take TOO many rest days. LOL. Unless on a vacation, we should not be resting multiple days in a row. We do not want our resting metabolic rate to get stuck where it used to be. One day, and get back after it. Two in a row tops. Remember, our body was built to move. We are the machine. I always ask new members how many days a week they want to work out. The common answer is 3. And I make it very clear that we must do at least 4. We must move our bodies more days than we don't. Always live by that rule. Functional fitness more days on than off. And your body will reward you!
Oh, don't forget to FUEL your body. The more days you work out, the more fuel you need. Look back on my article regarding food for more details, or inquire about our FUEL program. You are trying to turn your body from a VW Bug into a Porche Carrera. Fuel it accordingly (Hey, nothing against Bugs, it was my first car LOLOL).
Till next time, rest up, eat up, and bring it!