Sometimes a much needed break from the pressure and stress we put on our bodies through our grueling workouts is much needed. Workingout is certainly amazing for our bodies. Even amazing things need a break to replenish. I don't know about you guys but I am always a little hesitant on taking that break for fear of loosing my gains and what I will feel like when I return. As much of a workout enthusiast I am, this thought has even crossed my mind, I always have that thought in the back of my head, what if my interest gets lost and my break turns into longer?
There are times, even after I have trained my ass off for a fight I have to tell myself, "It is ok Katie to take a week off! Take a break and let your body heal and repair." My brother once even suggested I take 2 weeks off, I thought he was crazy! TWO WEEKS!!!! That is crazy talk. I would think to myself, I take my BCAA recovery drink to help repair my muscles. I will recover fine. Then there are those times I believe faith or circumstance steps in and has forced me to take a break. One time in which I was really worried about diminishing my gains was 2 weeks before one of my fights, my daughter got sick from the flu and had to be in the hospital for rehydration. There was no chance of me leaving her side, and I thought for sure I would have to pull out of my fight. It was then I decided to research when your body actually starts to lose its cardio endurance and muscle gains.
Researching this information was the biggest factor for me in whether or not I would continue to pursue that fight if my daughter was 100 percent by then. According to 2012 study in athletes, endurance decreases between 4 and 25 percent after a 3 to 4 week cardio break. Thankfully my daughter was 100 percent after 2 days and I did end up fighting. In fact when I returned to training after having to take that week off, I almost felt stronger and more conditioned! SO everything I had researched said it does take a little time to lose your hard earned endurance. Usually around 7-14 days! So after about 2 months you will definitely find yourself out of shape, but not after a week or even two.
As far as muscle mass goes and how quickly we lose it when we take time off is not as clear cut. Some research says it will take around 3 weeks to start to lose muscle mass, other research says you can start to lose it as quickly as one week of inactivity and another study suggests your muscle size can decrease by about 11% after around 10 days. Some of these studies are based on individuals with an injury and how much muscle mass you have to begin with. The good news is even if you do lose some mass during your break from training, "muscle memory" will be on your side when you get back to it. Sometimes we have to trust our bodies and have confidence that we will return after we take a little break. You would think I would know this all too well having taken major steps back from my vigorous training routine when I was pregnant 3 times. After I had my babies I then had to take a good 6 weeks off after my three c-sections so I too had to remind and reassure myself that I would bounce back.
I recently had covid and did have to take 2 weeks off. Normally I would bounce right back after an illness with no concern even if I wasn't feeling 100 percent. This time around because of the uncertainty of this virus I wanted to make sure I WAS 100 percent before returning. When I started up I just started with stretches. A few days later I started to incorporate flow exercise which is similar to yoga, and then I just worked my way up from there based on how I was feeling.
Knowing when to take time off or when your body truly needs a break is different than just being lazy and tired. You really have to listen and be in tune. I am always tired hahah So if I were to say I am to tired to workout, I would honestly never workout. Usually on the days I do not feel like working out are the days I get the best workouts.
Here are some signs to know if you really are overtraining and your body truly needs a break and not just like a day of active rest, but a good week or two to repair:
- You start to feel depressed about working out
- Fatigued or Your Physical Exhaustion
- Poor performance in your workouts
- Injury or illness
- You are not progressing in your workouts
- Soreness that won't go away
- You feel you can not get your heart rate to go down quickly after your workout is done
- Overuse injuries
- Reduced appetite
Most athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is almost a MUST in performing at their highest, but many feel guilty when they take a day off. The body does not excel in its gains during performance, it is when the body is at rest that it is recovering. "The continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes mentally and physically." During our rest time it is also imperative to fuel your body with the proper nutrients it needs like protein for muscle repair. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training. Protein intake should be eaten throughout the day like those mini meals I mention more in depth in my articles "22 vs. 42" for stored energy and BCAA( Branch Chain Amino Acids) to build muscle, decrease muscle fatigue and alleviate muscle soreness.
When you work really hard at what you are trying to accomplish it is tough to recognize the signs of needing a break because our momentum keeps telling us to train more, train harder, keep going. Believe and trust me when I say you will recover and come back even stronger with that much needed break your body needs from time to time. It is hard to give an exact time when you should. I use to say every three months I would take a week off. But now I would say you really have to listen to your body and the signs it is giving you and to be honest with yourself if you feel burnt out. Trust me, your body will thank you.
Always Thankful, Katie
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"Respect your body when it's asking for a break. Respect your mind when it's seeking rest. Honor yourself when you need a moment." -ihearts143Quotes.com
"Real rest feels like every cell is thanking you for taking care of you."-Jenifer Williamson