Rest Over FOMO
FOMO is a real thing. As humans, we have an inner desire to feel included, to fit-in, to be a part of something. We can have many of these “somethings” in our life and for us at the gym, CrossFit is likely one of them. The workout of the day. What is it going to feel like? What will others say about it? How would I do on it? There are good movements for me. I could get better at those movements. I want to have those post-workout feelz! I want to see my friends! I want to beat my buddy! These are just a few of the things we tell ourselves each day when that workout gets announced at 7pm for the next day, or throughout the day as we see our friends results in SugarWOD.
Believe me, CrossFit and other fitness offerings are a healthy addiction. After all, for me and many of you, CrossFit isn’t just our workout, it’s our hobby, our sport, our fun. But, just like anything, too much can be unhealthy. I am here today to tell you that you should prioritize a rest day or two every week and to give you a strategy for deciding how to do that.
Rest days are important for many reasons. Muscular development, for mass and/or endurance purposes, is your body’s process of breaking down and rebuilding. In simple words, workouts are not the puzzle piece that build you up. The workout breaks you down. Your recovery (sleep, food intake, hydration, rest) is where your body recuperates itself and builds itself to more appropriately handle the stressors that you’ve inflicted upon it through your workout. This is why rest is so important and the facet of fitness that so many are not handling correctly. If you are in a position where you are not sleeping well, eating well, and/or relaxing well, you may be exposing your body to something that it is not recovering from. When this occurs you may experience burnout, fatigue, and even injury. It is very important to recognize the onset of these symptoms. When you do, you have to make some changes either to your lifestyle or to the intensity/time in which you choose to perform your workout.
Often, members will come to me expressing that they’d like to put in more work in addition to our normal CrossFit classes. In those instances, it is my job to ask why? And then to also speak to them about their RECOVERY strategy, because without proper recovery (again: food, hydration, rest, sleep) more work does not mean that you will get better, stronger, faster. It means that you will break your body down more. You may get worse, weaker, slower.
Now that we understand the importance of rest, how do we implement a strategy to do so? First we have to take a look at our schedule. Are there days where the hourly calendar is so full, on a regular basis, that a workout would be impossible? If so, easy, that is your rest day. For others, myself included, I have a sporadic schedule. Things will often present themselves that don’t allow me to workout on particular days when I initially planned to. I like to call it a get in where you fit in strategy. Workout when you can knowing that something may pop up preventing you from doing so tomorrow. This requires that you set a maximum amount of days that you will workout in a row. I’d recommend setting this number at 4 or 5. You could take it to 6 if your recover habits are optimal, but from my experience we all over estimate the quality of our recovery. Another consideration, CrossFit studies have shown that after 3 days of intense workouts performance tends to deteriorate. This is why many follow the original recommendation of a 3 day ON 1 day OFF strategy. Look at your schedule, prioritize rest days in advance, 1-2 per week. If your schedule is erratic, set a max days in a row limit. Even with that max number your body may be telling you to rest prior to that number. Listen to it. Many injuries have been prevented by sitting out for 24 hours.
To wrap it up, proper rest and recovery are a priority for your health. The prioritization of them goes up as you become more and more active. Many times the workout will look fun but don’t let the FOMO take over. If it’s a rest day it’s a rest day. The gym, your friends, the workout, it will all be there tomorrow, but you may not be if you don’t do things correctly. Work hard, rest well, expand your limits.