The Christmas holidays should be a time to enjoy the company of your nearest and dearest, this means taking time away from the gym for most. With a small proportion of hardcore trainers choosing to punish their muscles during the festive period, I thought it was a good time to explain the benefit of 7-10 days from the gym.
If you like me, you haven’t missed a single workout, let along a week’s training for literally months. Not even one! As a result my progress has been better than ever, as I am sure yours has too if you have been just as consistent. Having said that, you may also be feeling a little more achy than usual particularly within your joints.
Personally, it is my shoulder joints and wrists which really begin to ache after months of intensive training. Areas like my lower back where I previously had an injury also begin to ache more than the rest of my body, even with the perfect diet and supplementation plan. From this point, the only way to really overcome this is to give your body a small break away from the gym. Below I have listed 3 of the most common benefits to utilising the festive season to let your body recover.
This is a collective term for your ligaments, tendons and even bone compounds. As you train with resistance your attachment points are constantly challenged, as are your muscles. The thing is, your muscles enjoy a very consistent level of nutrient rich blood flow as where your connective tissues do not. As a result, their ability to heal is nowhere near as good as your muscle tissue. This is often the reason as to why you will notice your joints beginning ache as you get further and further into a training plan. Having 7-10 days from weights will allow your connective tissues to repair faster, enabling micro tears to heal and replenishing their overall health. During your time from weights I would recommend focussing on getting plenty of quality sleep and eating as if you were training because you want to optimise your recovery here. Your growth hormone levels which really support connective tissue health are optimised when you have a healthy sleeping patter, so make sure you enjoy a good sleep each day!
Many people will understand why muscles need to recover, and some will also appreciate the importance of connective tissue health as well. However, the majority of people who weight train forget about the importance of the CNS. The central nervous system is responsible for every muscle contraction and it involved in every millimetre of movement of every repetition. After reading that, it sounds just a bit more important right? As you can imagine after weeks and months of intensive exercise your CNS is broken down, and you can in fact lose the quality of muscle contraction. Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamins will help, but a having short break is a great way to enable the CNS to recover adequately.
Everyone who trains for a long period of time will probably have at least on area of their physique which aches a bit, right in the muscle. As I mentioned earlier, my lower back is that place for me. After a week off, my muscle fibres in this area are able to repair faster opposed to if I was training 5 times a week. As a result when I start back in the gym I feel more comfortable and strong in this area.
There are 3 very solid reasons why you should relax and enjoy the festive period, and allow your body to recover properly from intense training. Although your weight training stops, I really believe you should keep your diet going and sustain a good level of protein intake. Furthermore, daily cardio is also great for recovery because you are stimulating additional blood flow into your muscles. Nutrient enriched blood will help the muscles recover more effectively in your week off!