Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs (I know, I'm so cliche!)
However, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.
I'm also sure you know how these lows and highs can impact your training.
Whether it's because something horrible has happened in your personal life, your kids are sick, YOU'RE sick, work is crazy busy, your house pipes have burst, your car has broken down, you injure yourself - everything that life throws at us can build up and make getting to the gym that extra little bit harder.
And in a lot of cases, nothing massive may have happened. It could simply just be a build up of life's stresses making it feel impossible to get that workout in.
So when do you push through the load of crap THAT life can throw at you, and when do you submit and decide to allow yourself a bit of down time away from the gym and working out?
As with everything, there's a number of ways you can look at it.
Scientifically it's argued that you can still workout if you're sick but are only experiencing symptoms above the neck. Well SCREW YOU SCIENCE! Says I, who sits here writing this with a nasty head cold that is making me wish a thousand deaths upon the person who gave it to me (I will find you and I will give it BACK to you).
While I had originally envisaged another successful training week, a workout is the last thing on my mind today. Actually, that's a bit of a lie. I have tossed up the idea of going in anyway and getting it done in an effort to try and sweat it out (hand up all of those who do this!)
But instead, here's why I'm not:
- I don't want to get other people sick (seriously, if you get them sick, they'll probably get you sick again)
- A couple days off isn't going to kill you. In fact, it's going to give your body valuable time to direct its energy into restoring your immunity system. Every day you rest is a day spent towards getting better, FASTER.
So what if you're not sick and you're just feeling...blegh?
Chances are you'll know whether or not you SHOULD be resting. You're an adult. You know the difference between a lack of motivation and a genuine need for some downtime.
The problem is the negative connotation associated with resting.
Resting isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's integral to continuing our progress. It's part of the training cycle! Eat, Train, Rest, Repeat.
You might need a rest for a variety of reasons that you might not even realise:
- Perhaps you've been sleeping pretty shitty lately. Sleep deprivation stresses the F out of your body. The least you can do is try to incorporate some rest elsewhere and give your body valuable time to repair!
- Or maybe the workouts have been pretty heavy lately, in which case your central nervous system has been taxed more than usual and you might just be feeling a bit more 'out of it' or 'weaker' than usual. This can also happen if the workout stimulus changes to something you haven't been as exposed to. Anything that challenges your brain can be considered a stressor and while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's important to realise that rest doesn't always refer to the physical. It can also be a case of resting your mind.
- Alternatively, you might want to ask yourself when the last time was that you took a conscious week away from the gym. While we endeavour to provide an atmosphere that encourages sustainable training principles and an enjoyable environment, going to the gym every day can be mentally and physically exhausting. If you just don't have the desire to go to the gym but still want to move your body, try giving yourself a break from the act of going to the gym and indulge in some fresh air activities. Things like hiking, biking, rowing, SUPing, swimming can do wonders for the soul and give your body a break from its routine.
If you are training frequently it's also important to take a scheduled de-load week to ensure that you don't burn out.
"But what if I'm just being a wuss and I should really get off my a$$ and go to the gym"
Still not sure if you need to rest and questioning whether or not you should workout?
Here's a little experiment. Give yourself 3 - 7 complete days off. Away from the gym.
At least 3 days of which you are not allowed to do any lifting other than is required in daily life.
You can walk. No running. Nothing that gets you sweaty. After those 3 days, you may start to add in a couple of activities, maybe a longer walk, maybe a slow jog (no more than 5km please!) and some very easy lifting (I'm talking 40% of your 1RM here).
Generally, you'll struggle in the first few days with guilt of not training.
Ask yourself what is the worst that is going to happen by taking a week off training?
What is actually going to happen in that period of time? You are NOT going to lose your gainz, I promise! You are also not going to jeopardise any fat loss progress.
By about day 3 or 4 you're probably going to enjoy this new lifestyle. You're going to feel a little uneasy because you ARE enjoying not working out. You'll probably get anxious and question whether you'll ever want to go back to training again. Don't worry, you will.
By about day 6 or 7 you'll be itching to get back into the gym.
If not, simply take off another few days.
You should be EXCITED about getting back into it.
And if you're not, this is when you know you've either burnt yourself out and need to take far longer and/or change your exercise regime so it incorporates an extra motivator like a PT or program.
After around 6-7 days you may then go back to the gym. See how you feel. I guarantee that by the 2nd day of getting back into it, you'll feel stronger, you'll have more endurance and you'll be looking forward to going back to the gym everyday.
"But CrossFit is designed so that you can do it everyday"
But initially, the workout programming was limited to 1 workout a day. It was extremely rare for there to be skills, strength and a WOD all on the same day. Just look at the Crossfit.com main site.
As enthusiasm for CrossFit has grown, so has people's voracious appetite for more, more, more.
It is more common these days for CrossFitters to do TOO MUCH rather than too little. Main Site even had to start programming in rest days BECAUSE people were overtraining.
Remember, your workouts and fitness should be a way of enhancing your activities OUTSIDE of the gym.
When you remember this, it becomes less important to spend copious hours working out and more important to workout in a way that is efficient, effective and allows you to get back to enjoying life outside of the gym.
If the gym has become a stressor for you or you are simply struggling to find the motivation to attend workouts, I urge you to schedule a chat with one of the coaches and discuss some strategies to get you back to enjoying life to the fullest!