Should You Take Rest Days? The Power of Periodizing and No Structure (4 of 5)

man-laying-in-roadNote: This is a follow up to this post on how to structure your daily practice. Read it here if you haven't yet.

"Rest days? Oh yeah, I took one of those back in 1978." –Ido Portal

It's a simple thing, rest. But it seemed to be loaded with more confusion and debate than anything in the fitness and movement community.

So, how does one train to progress without burning out or injury?

I'll tell you about my perspective on that in a minute, but for now, let's talk about training vs. movement, something most people have a lot of confusion about.

  • Training is anything that involves specifically working toward a goal. Training is deliberately pushing the boundaries of what you're currently capable of.
  • Moving is using what you've already got, not for the purpose of reaching a higher goal.

Training is structured, linear, developmental.

Movement is the application of training. It can be functional, artistic, or playful.

It is definitely possible to overtrain, but is much more difficult to move too much.

If you're training for strength or flexibility, you always want to be pushing close to the edges of your capacity, but never to failure.

If you're simply moving for the sake of play or to get somewhere, you probably don't want to be pushing the edges of your capabilities.

Now, how do you train without burning out?

Periodization is the magic key.

What most people will do is work themselves into the ground, get injured and then stop training for a few months to recover, beat themselves up, then get back into the gym. They never really get anywhere because their program doesn't give them consistent results.

Instead, you need to periodize your training. What do I mean? Well, there's a reason nature moves in cycles. Periods of growth and dormancy support balance and harmony.

What most people will advise is 3-5 weeks of intense training, followed by 1 week of deloading, going to only 30-40% of the normal intensity.

Periodizing structure and chaos

I have a slightly different take on things. I like to to do 3-5 weeks of a structured program, really pushing myself and my capabilities, then take 1 week off for complete unstructured play. In this way, I have a balance of structure vs. no structure in my practice.

Taking the week off does make it slightly more difficult to get back into the habit of regular programming, but I've found I'm back in the groove after a couple of days.

Experiment and see what works for you.

What else affects success more than anything else?

Now, you might be wondering about how community and accountability might affect your training.

Maybe you've tried everything on your own and you're tired of doing it alone. Perhaps you're struggling to show up consistently, or you're just feeling lonely in your practice.

In the final post in this series, we'll be exploring how you can use community and accountability to dramatically level up your strength, skill and every area of your training.

And I'll be finally be giving a small handful of people the opportunity to work 1-on-1 with me personally.

What's your take on rest days? Leave a comment and share with us.

P.S. Personally I train six days a week, with one day for active recovery (lots of play and movement, but no hard training).

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