Here’s a topic that no hard core weight lifter or bodybuilder wants to talk about. We don’t skip meals and we don’t take scheduled training days off. Most of us have one or two, sometimes three days off from the gym each week as it is. The other days are for intense training, no excuses. Whereas this is a great philosophy to live by and consistency is certainly a key to building muscle mass, there are those occasional times when our body is asking us for an unscheduled break.
One thing that we have to remind ourselves of is that we don’t necessarily grow while we’re in the gym, but our muscles rebuild and grow when we’re resting. This of course depends on the level of muscle overload we push ourselves to and our nutrition. But without proper rest, we’re going to do more damage than good. It’s also important to note that without proper rest, we’re more prone to injury which could lead to much more time off than just a day or two.
Over the years I’ve really learned to listen to my body and I almost train instinctively these days. I know if I don’t get good sleep for whatever reason the night before, it may be best to take the next day off from lifting. Sometimes it may be an aching joint pain, or feeling a sickness coming on, or just not all the way there mentally. Our body has ways of telling us when to take a day and we have to learn to be in tune with that. Now this doesn’t mean wimp out because you just don’t feel like going. If you’re hard core, this isn’t an issue anyway, as we look forward to our gym time. A few ways to tell if you need a day off from the gym are listed below.
If the muscle you plan to work that day is still sore (this leads to breaking down the muscle before it’s had a chance to recover)
If you haven’t been getting enough quality sleep
If you feel sick (working out will lower your immune systems defense)
If you’re having severe joint pain or aches
If you feel you’re strength has been regressing (this is the result of overtraining, poor nutrition, or not enough rest)
Sometimes we simply just need a break from our routine, and that’s ok. Taking a day off or in some cases a few days off can actually help increase your muscle gains and strength. It may also mean that you need to change your workout schedule doing a day less for a few weeks. Either way, when you give your body that extra break you’ll come back fresh and ready to rev up your intensity level. So train hard and heavy, but also listen to your body and take that extra break when it tells you to.