by Joy Leick
Blood, sweat and tears. You’ve heard it. “If you aren’t dying, you aren’t trying.” I’m actually not sure if you really have heard that before. I think I just made that up in my head. “If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to give up sleep.” “You’re not tired, keep going.” “Toughen up, you aren’t injured.”
While some of these are true to some extent, the overarching message that these comments have in common is that you should never rest. OR that you aren’t truly pushing yourself unless you’re in pain.
Your body needs rest. It needs to be recharged. Your body needs relaxation. Your body needs to recover. Think about your cell phone. If you never took the time to stop using your cell phone for a bit to plug it in and recharge it, it would not function properly. LIkewise, your body needs a period of time to recharge.
A 2016 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1 in 3 adults are not getting enough sleep (at least 7 hours) on a regular basis. 1
Did you know that sleep is the absolute best medicine that you can give to your body? Sleep will run circles around a good diet and a perfect exercise regimen any day. Your body needs at least 7 hours of sleep on a consistent basis in order to refuel, recharge, and be ready to perform at it’s best. You could be eating perfectly, exercising perfectly, but go ahead and try depriving your body of sleep. See what happens. You may find the answer to why you aren’t losing the extra weight, why you’re grumpy all the time or why you can’t seem to wind down in the evenings.
Rest is essential. So maybe you are sleeping enough. That’s awesome! This next part is for you.
We live in a society that is designed around sitting around. A good chunk of us sit down at work, we sit down while we drive, we sit while we eat, we sit while we watch tv and so many other things. When we refer to resting that is unassociated with sleep, we are not talking about lounging around all day long.
Rather, we want to challenge you to listen to your body in regards to injuries, aches, and pains.
For those of you that are avid exercisers, it’s difficult to skip the gym even when we feel injured or something isn’t quite right. (I mean you probably just saw Missy and I working through this very thing a couple weeks ago.)
There is a difference between just skipping the gym because you don’t feel like going and choosing to take a rest day because your body is telling you it needs a break. Try not to be confused with the two. Often times, it takes a mental connection with your body to understand if you are actually injured, needing rest or if you are just gaining strength and pushing your body beyond it’s limits.
“No pain no gain” is a thin line that may need to be crossed every once in awhile. YES, you need to push yourself sometimes when you’re tired in the middle of a workout. Or to push yourself through that last rep. Heck, some days you may have a ton of things to do and have to push yourself to even make that drive to the gym. BUT crossing this line on occasion also means that we include things like: rest days, deload weeks, and recovery time into our routine. As coaches, it is our job to motivate and push you to work hard enough to get stronger and see physical changes, but at Edge Body we also know the importance of recommending and encouraging these recovery items.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable in workouts. Heck, we all know that most workouts in class at Edge Body are going to be challenging. Because we need that challenge to improve; to change. So it’s completely normal to feel sore after a hard workout every once in awhile. But if you are continuously coming into the gym feeling sore and in pain day after day after day, it may be time to take a look at what your training days, nutrition and sleep patterns looks like.
If your body has been screaming at you, listen to it! If your joints, muscles, nerves, etc. are painful, perhaps you could consider listening to your body. Talk to your coach about what’s been going on and see if it is time for you to reevaluate your schedule or habits!
In the meantime here are a few ways you can recharge when your body is telling you it needs a break after several months of avid exercise:
Try a deload week (one week of “active rest” workouts where you decrease the load being lifted, simply work on technique and just focus on getting that heart rate up. This should feel much lighter than your normal workout intensity and can be great after you pushed yourself training for an event etc.
Take a warm bath (and add some epsom salts! Even you too guys!!)
Go to bed an hour early.
Do yoga or some extra mobility before and after your workouts.
Be OK with skipping the gym 1 or 2 days. It’s OK! It’s recovery when your body needs it, not causing you to lose a healthy habit.
Examine your diet. Are you getting 20-30g of protein per meal or snack? (Most avid exercisers who strength train need roughly 1g per lb. of bodyweight FYI.)