Rest Days; Useful Recovery Or Guilty Pleasure?
The rest day is a natural beast. It arrives when you want it, when you don't want it but feel it's a better alternative and when you are feeling like you prefer it to the alternative.
There are numerous people in the fitness industry who say a rest day is vital for progress and some say it isn't. There are perfectly valid reasons for both sides of the argument. Whichever you choose is alright.
Rest days are useful because they help the body recover from more difficult gym days. Some personal trainers including the ones that taught me to be a personal trainer say you should rest at least after every second day in the gym. So it would look like rest days on wednesday, saturday and possibly sunday to even it out.
The body needs a rest day according to others in order to fuly be ready for the next day's gym session, especially if you are recovering from DOMS (delayed onset of Muscle Soreness). If you are preparing for a real heavy weights session or are plannig to break a personal best a rest day will help you achieve that? If that is what works for you then great.
I used to believe in rest days religiously. I was of the opinion that recovery was just as important as lifting and cardio as a sort of triumverate of fitness. That was until I listened to Ogie Shaw's speech which you can find on the TDL Fitness podcast episode 8. This is essentially the 'no rest must work' mindset.
He said that exercise should become a habit for you. Exercise should be the same mindset as brishing your teeth or going to sleep in that its a daily thing you can't be without.
This is the approach I now take (and is very recent). Think of it like this. Rest days are great, but once you indulge in them don't you feel like more of them? If you are diciplined then fine that's great. But for most of us we need momentum to keep us going and to achieve things fast. With no rest days you create a habit of never stopping, never losing momentum, and most importantly developing the habit which makes you fit and healthy for the rest of your life.
If you are training to become healthy, happy, more toned, looking better, then the first thing you should do is make training a habit, even if the training you are doing is the most effective, just keep going. Working out should be something you want to do every day. If it is not only will you achieve your results quicker but you will keep going after you achieve them. Longevity is the name of the game when it comes to training.
Rest days cam be seen as a guilty pleasure and one you shouldn't indulge in because one rest day can open the door to two rest days then threee then 4 then 7. Rest days are a slippery slope to a lot of people. In fact you know those people, if not yourself who negotiate workout and rest days. As Ogie Shaw says if you are doing that then you might as well not go because you will eventually quit. It's that simple.
Whatever side of the rest day fence you are on think of it like this; will you always go to the gym even after a rest day no matter what? Or do you like the momentum because it encourages you to go again and again? Are you to be trusted with a rest day? Or are you just human?
In any rate, both sides of the argument are right but for me psychologically I want to go to the gym every day because I want my body to be in such top physical condition that it has to adapt to the daily painful lifestyle I put it through. Provided I don't injure myself that's my style because I know im two rest days away from taking the whole week off. If you are like me you know which side of the fence to sit on.
I gym every day because if i don't exercise I feel guilty that I haven't. That is not an unhealthy mindset, that is a determined mindset.