Friday, September 19, 2014

Pfft. Who Needs Rest?

According to countless magazine articles, fitness blogs and health related youtube videos, there are two secrets to fitness that nobody knows about.

The truth is, if these secrets show up all over the place, they're not really secrets. They're just ignored. Take me for instance.

I actually understand that mastering these simple tricks will help anyone in their fitness goals- whether those goals are loosing weight, building muscle, or gaining strength.

But it's so hard.

The Moment this Doctor made a Hitchhiker's Guide
reference, I was hooked.
The first "secret" is sleep. The body needs sleep to regenerate. Even the 10th Doctor, otherwise known as "My Doctor," needed sleep after he regenerated. Well, that and a good cup of tea. My personality is so much like that incarnation, I should take his sleep habits to heart.

The Doctor can regenerate in seconds, but still needs rest afterwords. We take 7-9 hours a night to regenerate.

Unfortunately, I'm more like the 12th Doctor. Um... very mild spoiler here for anyone that hasn't seen Doctor Who, Season 8, Episode 1, "Deep Breath."

He didn't understand the importance of a bedroom. The very idea made him incredulous. "You mean you've got a whole room for not being awake in!?"

My thoughts exactly.

Without sleep, our bodies won't produce growth hormone. Growth hormone maintains or bones, reduces fat storage, and builds our muscles. That's just some of the benefits.

"You mean you've got a whole room for not being awake in?
But what's the point? You're just missing the room. And
don't look in that mirror, it's absolutely furious!"
Lack of sleep leads to obesity, fatigue, and if you're really good at not sleeping, hallucinations. At least two of those are bad side effects.

I'm getting better at the sleep portion, but I mentioned two secrets didn't I? The other goes hand in hand.

Rest days.

I hate them.

Really. My current workout goals are a mix of strength and skill. I'm working on handstands, and handstand pushups, with the goal of eventually being able to do a back lever, and planche pushups.

I rarely take rest days. I've come to (incorrectly) view them as wasted days. Now, I usually have a light day that consists of just swimming. But it is a rarity that I don't do a workout of some kind.

For instance:

Don't do this workout everyday. You'll look
more like a dead soldier, not a Spartan.
Monday, I did the 300 workout. Tuesday, I did several pushup variations, for a total of 225 pushups, plus handstand practice. Wednesday, I did a killer combo of bodyweight and free weight exercises for about 40 minutes. As good as the workout was, I only did about half of the intended reps.

Why? Because I'd been pushing my body too hard for too long. Ever since I completed the 300 workout, I've thought that every "hard" day should have the same intensity. Some of them can, but pushing your body that hard 3-4 times a week has consequences. By Wednesday, my body finally told me to give it a break already.

These aren't secrets. Chances are, you know that the body needs time to rebuild the muscle fibers that were torn down. Tissue damage is repaired, and the body grows stronger. But so many of us fall into the trap of "more, more, more."

I've been trying to do "more, more, more."

But without rest, my performance becomes sub-par. I risk injury. And I actually impede my success, rather than guaranteeing it.

Yesterday, I didn't work out. I practiced a few handstands, but not for any substantial amount of time. And today? I feel fantastic.

I'll hit the gym hard tonight. And next week? I'll take another rest day.

Keep transforming. Keep regenerating.

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