It’s been a minute since I came back from a much-needed rest week. As promised, I wanted to recap the experience and thought it would be oh-so-fun to present this post in a Q&A format. Let’s get this show on the road!
Wait…what’s a rest week? I thought you were only supposed to rest for a day?
When it comes to fitness (and food…and alcohol…and fashion…and hobbies…and…), there is no “one size fits all.” There’s a learning curve that comes with taking care of yourself. One of the things that you will learn throughout your own fitness journey is when you need to take a breather. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. I take 1-2 rest days a week (I typically use those as active recovery days — yoga, biking, walking, foam rolling the shit out of myself — but sometimes I just need to veg out with some Chardonnay and “Gilmore Girls” reruns). The rest week (also known as the “recovery week”) is very different from rest days and should not be taken as often. I’ve read that a good rule of thumb is to schedule a rest week every 8-12 weeks. This is a week where you, you guessed it, rest. You give your body and your mind a breather.
Is this different than a deload week?
Yes. A rest/recovery week is a week spent away from the gym/studio/box/that sad area of carpet in the corner of your living room where you’re somehow able to fit some burpees in. A deload week is a week where you keep your workouts and weights light. You’re still going through the motions and keeping the blood flowing, but you’re focusing more on form and allowing your body to recharge before gearing back up again. If you follow the Beyond 5/3/1 Program by Jim Wendler, for example, you’d take a deload week every seventh week of the program.
Can I do both?
Sure. I’m not your mom.
Did you feel refreshed after your rest week?
Mentally, YES. On Monday, I was so excited to get back into the swing of things. Sunday night felt like Christmas Eve. It was nice not feeling incredibly guilty about taking time off. When something is part of the “plan,” it helps to alleviate the guilt. With that being said, physically, I was not 100%. I think this is incredibly anecdotal as I don’t have the body of a typical girl in her 20s. My joints hate me.
Will you take another rest week in 8-12 weeks?
Yes, but I plan on switching things up a bit. I should have allowed myself to still be somewhat active at least 3-4 out of my 7 days off. The next time around, I’ll be resting from the barbell and will focus more on getting outdoors: biking, frisbee, hiking, yoga in the park, etc. When it comes to rest, I’ve found that my SI joint, hips, and shoulders respond poorly to complete rest for more than 24hrs. They need movement or else they tend to tense up and become incredibly painful.
As I said before, one size does not fit all. It takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. It’s been about a week and a half since my rest week and I’ve completely changed up my routine. My joints have gradually gotten worse, and I’ve somehow managed to tweak my hamstring tendon. I’m doing more yoga and less lifting in hopes that I can -calm- myself down, both physically and mentally.