No matter how lofty your fitness goals are or how little time you have, you still need rest. Constantly hammering yourself into the ground is (unsurprisingly) unsustainable, and can actually undo your progress. Here's why.
As with any type of work, exercising and losing weight are considered stressors to your body. Think about it: when you work out, you're creating tiny tears in your muscles that your body needs to repair (literally getting shredded), while under-supplying your body with enough nutrients to do so. If you don't give your body enough time to recover, the effects can accumulate and bring your progress to a halt.
To make sure this doesn't happen, here are three main ways to incorporate more rest into your workout routine.
- Organise your workouts wisely If you plan to target a certain body part more than once a week, allow at least a day between these workouts. If you can't afford that time, at least try to alternate the intensity of the work by having a 'heavy'/intense workout, and a lighter workout.
- Take a rest day (or a few) Any workout plan should include at least one rest day. It doesn't need to be solidly scheduled — move it about the week as your mood, motivation, and schedule dictate. If for some reason you feel bad about taking the day off, consider: a) getting a life (I need to take my own advice here), or b) active rest, where you can take the time to do low intensity activities you usually don't have time for like hiking or yoga.
- Deload Deloads are pretty much a fancy fitness way of saying taking some time off. They usually last about a week, but in some cases can last up to a month. Athletes normally use them if they have just finished an intensive program and are physically and mentally spent. Doing so is important: continuing to push forward while your mind and body are exhausted can compromise your immune system and make you vulnerable to injuries. While you may not be a professional athlete, the same principle applies. If you've been feeling demotivated for a while and/or are noticing you're getting injured or sick more frequently, take a week off.
It may seem counterintuitive to give yourself a break when you still have work to do, but remember that no work will get done if you're too sore, bored or sick to do so. So don't be afraid to allow yourself to rest, because sometimes you need to stop to keep pushing forward.