If you have been training for any period of time, somewhere along the line you have probably heard of the value of “rest days”. Days off from the gym can allow for full recovery of both the CNS and the skeletal muscular system, allowing you to have a great week of training and bust through plateaus. But, as is the case with everything in the fitness industry, there is a thin line to walk.
Take TOO MUCH rest, and you will not impose the proper stimulus needed for training adaptations to occur. In other words, you will “start all over again” every time you train. On the other hand, if you NEVER take a day off EVER, your CNS will most likely be shot to the point where your handshake has the strength of a soggy biscuit.
So what should you do?
Having done this for long enough, I have pretty much seen 2 different scenarios unfold:
If you train 6 days a week, odds are you a fitness fanatic like myself, and can’t be trusted with “autoregulation” as that will lead to double sessions every single day. Instead, program one day of complete rest per week. By “rest” I mean nothing that taxes the CNS. So while hiking, walking, landscaping etc are fine activities to partake in, we really want to avoid jumping, lifting, sprinting, etc on these days.
If you do NOT ever workout 6 days a week, then the solution is simple: listen to your body. If your motivation to train is non existent, if you are sore from head to toe, if you don’t FEEL like going to the gym and training….then don’t. I still believe in sweating everyday, but find a different way to do it.
Take a spin class, try hot yoga, or get outside with your kids. Rather than programming in pre determined “rest days” in these scenarios, you are better off taking it day by day, and seeing how you feel.
Other factors when determining when to rest or not, are your activities outside of the gym. Are you training for a half marathon? Do you take BJJ class 3x/week? The human body can only take so much, and at some point, a priority will have to be given to rest and recovery.
The last point I would like to make is that metabolic training is not all about how your muscles feel, it is about how YOU feel. If doing a metabolic workout makes you FEEL good, but you are sore, then go a little lighter that day and promote healthy blood flow. I know for me, I do daily metabolic workouts because they de-stress me, and put me in the right frame of mind to conquer the day.
Even if you told me that my physical gains were not going to be optimized, I would still do it, because that is how much I value the emotional impact that this style of workout can truly have. Bottom line, don’t overthink this stuff, it isn’t that serious. Trust your instinct, enjoy the process, and kick those feet up every now and then…just not too often.