How to Take Time Away from The Gym Without Feeling Guilty!
Have you felt over-worked, fatigued, or simply bored from your workouts – yet, you still find yourself feeling “too guilty” to take a break from your usual workout routine?Or maybe you get sick, go on vacation or have some other life event happen that takes you away from your workout routine and leaves you feeling guilty?
What if I told you it is completely normal to be feeling the way you are?
Keep reading to find out why taking some time away from the gym can actually benefit your fitness goals and overall quality of life.
As a NASM Certified Fitness Personal Trainer, I’ve helped thousands of people, just like you, who struggle with finding balance with working out and taking time away from the gym without feeling guilty about losing the progress made!
In this article I discuss:
- How to Know If It’s Time For a Break
- How Recovery Really Works
- How Long Should Your Break Be
- How Long Until You Notice A Difference In Your Fitness
- How to Use Your Break Productively
Exercising consistently is important for building endurance, conditioning your body, increasing muscle mass and losing weight – however, there must be time given for your body to take a break in order to replenish properly so it can perform better, faster, and stronger.
How To Know If It’s Time For A Break
One of the biggest reasons you may need a break is from overtraining. Doing too much exercise or too much high-intensity exercise can lead to the following symptoms:
- Restlessness (poor quality of sleep)
- Decrease in performance during workouts
- Lack of motivation
Taking a break may be just what you need to rest and rejuvenate, but what really happens when you rest your body?
Most would expect a ton of weight gain, however, when done properly, resting allows the body to repair itself so your muscle tissue and Central Nervous System grow stronger. When you give your body time to repair, it will be ready to go through even higher intensity workouts, which is what will ultimately give you better results!
How Recovery Really Works
To understand why recovery is imperative to your fitness goals, it helps to know a core truth about all forms of athletic training.
The truth is, you don’t actually get fitter at the gym. What actually happens during hard workouts is that you apply a stimulus that elevates your heart rate, breaks down muscle fibers, causes the adrenal glands to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and generally tells your body that the status quo won’t cut it anymore.
More so, the “getting fitter” part -– the body’s response to that stimulus -– comes afterward, which is why recovery is essential for all types of training.
While you eat and rest, the body is in the process of repairing tissue damage, strengthening the heart and other muscles, restoring depleted fuel reserves and getting better at transporting oxygen throughout the body, making itself a little more efficient and stronger than before.
Once your body has recovered, you do it again, but this time with a little more intensity to stimulate the same response.
By following this process carefully -– stressing the body to stimulate change, and then letting it recover and adapt -– you slowly pile on little adaptations consistently that will lead you to feeling stronger, noticing more muscle gains or fat loss.
When you give your body proper recovery time you may be able to lift a heavier weight, run a little faster or notice a boost in your stamina. The problem is that we usually don’t completely recover between workouts. Some of the fatigue stays with us, gradually accumulating during long periods of intense training.
How Long Should Your Break Be
It’s good for the average exerciser to take extra days off to get rid of every bit of fatigue.
The great news is, it takes a lot more than a week off to undo all your hard work, so don’t be afraid to take a break if you’re feeling tired and sore.
The secret to proper recovery is to take a break long enough to let all signs of fatigue disappear -– but not long enough to lose all of your current fitness.
As for how long that break should be, it depends on
– how intense your workout sessions are
– how frequently you workout during a week
– how long you’ve been working out for without a brief rest period
How Long Until You Notice A Difference In Your Fitness
Choosing the duration of your break depends on whether your rest period is by choice or not.
In other words, are you choosing to rest because your body is fatigued, bored of your workouts or are you taking time away to attend family events, vacation, or simply too-busy?
Once you’ve identified your reasoning for taking time away from the gym you will be able to decide how long your break will be.
If you’re taking time away from the gym by choice because you’re feeling fatigued or notice a decrease in performance, try taking a few days off and see how your body feels – everyone has a different body type, so it’s important that you carefully listen to how your body is responding.
If you’re not taking time away from the gym by choice because of a life event, traveling or are simply too-busy and you know you will be taking time away for longer duration like a few weeks than you should utilize this time to focus on other factors related to your health and fitness that do not require you to be in the gym such as nutrition, and recovery.
Once you’ve identified why you’re taking time away from the gym and how long it will be for, it’s important you know how long it takes before you notice a difference in your fitness.
Some basic statistics:
- Aerobic power can decline about 5-10% in three weeks.
- It takes about 2 months of inactivity to completely lose the gains you’ve made.
- Extremely fit exercisers will experience a rapid drop in fitness during the first three weeks of inactivity before it tapers off.
- Muscular strength and endurance last longer than aerobic fitness. Muscles retain a memory of exercises for weeks or even months.
How to Use Your Break Productively
Taking a long break doesn’t mean getting overly friendly with the couch and comfort foods -– you don’t want to fall completely out of shape, and you certainly don’t want to add on fat that may be harder to shed off when you get back into training.
First, you should stay clear of anything resembling your current training plan. Look for other light physical activities that will keep your body moving without the added intensity and stress levels.
Try new hobbies that are outside of your primary training, some examples might be; outdoor walks, riding a bicycle, swimming, Pilates, sports, etc.
Whichever new activity you choose, go into it with a different mental focus.
If you’re a weightlifter, for example, learn about yoga and spend more time stretching your body with a positive mindset. Utilize your time-away recovering your muscles and releasing any built-up tension, adhesion knots, or tightness.
For instance, my primary training involves high intensity workouts and after a few months of constantly training I feel fatigued and realize I need to take some time away from the gym. During my time away, I use my 12 Step Stretch Guide during my off days as a form of physical activity. This way I’m utilizing my break actively and allowing my body to recover optimally.
Adding some short of physical activity is just part of maintaining your health and fitness – Keeping a healthy diet is just as important if not MORE.
Since you won’t be exerting as much energy and burning as much calories without your frequent training routine, you will need to make adjustments to your nutrition.
You will need to reduce your Daily Calorie Intake and strictly eat whole nutritious foods to help replenish your body and avoid gaining excess weight.
During my break period, I follow my Lean Body Guide that consists of easy to make meals that are healthy and low in calories so I stay on track and avoid gaining excess weight.
A few simple nutritious tips to follow:
– Stay HYDRATED ( Drink 1-2 Liters of Water Daily)
– Stay Away from PROCESSED foods & drinks ( Avoid sugary, fried and packaged products)
– Load up on VEGGIES and healthy protein!
Take Away Message
If you’ve made it this far, you should have a better understanding on why recovery is essential to your current workout plan and should hopefully allow you to feel less guilty about taking time away from the gym.
Tips To Keep In Mind:
- Follow A Healthy Diet
- Optimize Your Recovery Time
- Use Your Time Away Productively
- Carry A Positive Mindset
- Stay Active
I can warn you now, it won’t be easy to discipline yourself to step out of your usual routine – this is where you have to carry a strong and positive mindset.
Reminding yourself that:
If you’re feeling fatigued, its OK to take a break. Your body NEEDS to heal and recover so you can come back healthier and stronger.
If you’re going through life challenges/events, its OK to take time away from the gym as long as you follow the guidelines that I have provided for you!
One quote I want you to keep in mind whenever you’re feeling hesitant about taking a break:
“Taking away that thing you love can really reinforce how much you love it, helping to bring back that motivation. Otherwise, training gets to feel like a job.”
Giving your body and mind a break will not only allow you to learn and grow through different activities, but you will also gain a healthy balance between your life and fitness which will ensure longevity and enjoyment in the training you love to do most.
Hopefully my topic on how to take time away from the gym without feeling guilty is useful for you now or in the future.
Make sure you leave a comment below if there is another topic you would like me to write about! I’d love to hear from you.