Days Off

Time for a break? Here are a few signs that you should take a day off— or four.

Sticking to a workout schedule takes dedication, sacrifice, and more than a few days of running on will power alone. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people become a little religious about getting their weekly workouts done. Now there’s nothing any humble monk of mass hates more than missing a workout. Although taking a break from the weight room might feel sacrilegious or lazy (gasp!), everyone needs a break. So here are a few signs that you should make a reservation at a couch near you this weekend.

1. You feel weaker, not stronger

This is an obvious sign you’re overtraining. If you are fatiguing faster, can’t lift as much, and wheezing more on a run, then it’s time to hang up the cleats for a little bit. There could be a lot of reasons why you’re slowing down, from health problems like (cold, flu, allergies) to a lack of sleep, high stress, and a poor diet. The solution in any case is a little rest and recovery. Just don’t sit on the couch the whole day.

2. Working out feels like a chore.

This is probably a sign of stress more than anything else. I’ve been there and probably you have too. I think the key to a good workout is motivation, energy, and enjoyment. You don’t need to love every set and every rep, but you do need to derive some pleasure from being on your feet and moving around. Instead of doing a half-ass workout because you’re feeling down in the dumps, take some time off. My advice is to reassess your goals; maybe something major has changed in your life, and now working out feels besides the point. Probe that a little bit. Talk about your feelings… take a seat on the couch.

3. Hit a Plateau.

Let’s say you’ve stuck to your schedule and seen results. But lately, you feel like you aren’t getting better. My advice would be to add an extra day of rest or two (long weekend), and then attack your workouts with a new level of intensity. On those days off, consider coming up with a new workout schedule. Think about the other things that go into performance (time of day you train, diet, sleep, work/life balance). The goal here is not to take a vacation. This is a quick step back to figure out how to move forward. Be prepared to tackle a bigger challenge!

4. People aren’t complimenting you anymore.

People don’t appreciate what they have until it’s gone. If friends, family, or loved ones aren’t as appreciative of how awesomely supreme your physical conditioning is, then stuff your face with Oreos until they start begging for the old you to return. That’s what I’d do.

5. There aren’t enough weights in the weight room.

Personally, this drives me nuts. If the gym simply doesn’t have enough 45s, then the only thing to do is let yourself get just a little weaker so you can max out.

6. You’re lapping all the cuties.

So you’re out for the usual 5k in the park. But these days you’ve got so good at running that you’re double and triple lapping that person (you know who). Once or twice is fine, but they might think you’re a creep if you run past them a fourth or fifth time. Slow down Pegasus. You don’t want to seem too good for him or her.

7. You’re attracting the wrong kinds of people.

One time I punched the bag so hard that gold coins fell out and a Leprechaun (possibly Danny Devito) jumped out of a stack of weights to congratulate me. Unnerving…

8. Not enough food in the fridge.

I don’t want to be the cause of my own children’s suffering; but sometimes, when daddy trains legs, he has to eat all the protein in the house.  

9. You are doing this on Saturday morning.

I changed my mind. This is sick. Keep lifting.

Football was meant to be played in leather helmets and sweaters. Currently taking suggestions for which NHL team I should support.

Twitter: @IshFarooqui