Weightlifters look forward to their rest days like a child looks forward to Christmas: You have such high expectations for it, but more often than not, it gets wasted and ends up having detrimental effects on your training instead of positive.
Tell me if this doesn’t sound all too familiar: You just finished up with a few brutal days of training, and as you pull your shoes off and unwrap your thumbs, you tell your training partner, “All I’m going to do is eat and rest until I crawl back in here.” We all say that because we want to believe that’s what we are going to do; however, I’m going to write about what probably happens and what you should’ve done.
It’s 7 PM—you ease yourself into your car thinking I am pretty sure I have never done that kind of volume over the course of 3 days in my life and I want this day off more than I want world peace. As you drive home you think Yeah, I don’t need to go the store, I have plenty of food. I’ll make something when I get home and be in bed before 10, no problem.
As you roll into your house, the thought of chicken and brown rice gets quickly vetoed by something else; plus you forgot to defrost meat and that will take way too long. Let’s see, I can order Dominos—I haven’t eaten that kind of crap in a few weeks and I deserve it. While I wait for the delivery guy, I have a tube of cinnamon rolls and a waffle iron; I can whip up some cinnamon roll waffles for a little snack. By the time he gets here, you’ve polished that tube off and then begin to dine on pizza like you have a date with a gas chamber in an hour.
Well it’s about 8:30 by now. Instead of washing your knee sleeves, you’ve settled down on the couch and picked up a remote or a Play Station controller. Next time you look at your clock, it’s 10:30 and you don’t really care because you just watched a badly edited version of Roadhouse on AMC because you really needed to see Dalton rip out that guy’s throat one more time in your life, or beating up on some teenager who lives on the other side of the country in whatever game you like was so damn important.
You finally flop down in your bed at midnight. Not only did you not take a contrast shower, you didn’t even shower when you got home. Screw it, I’m going to get up early and get a ton of crap done and make up for the last 5 hours. You snooze the alarm on your iPhone so many times it just quit working. You wake up two hours late and you feel like you smell: a big pile of trash. You sit up and wonder if it’s possible to have caught some bone marrow disease overnight because that pain is running deep.
You walk to the kitchen, pop open the fridge and Oh man, there’s pizza! I’m just going to watch the same Sports Center episode 5 times or refresh Instagram on my phone only 75 times before I start to get productive sometime around noon. Stretching? Nope I will do it later; I just want to rest right now. Plus you have a bunch of errands to run as that meat in your freezer still sits in there knowing that it won’t be seeing the light of day today.
By the time you finally get your shit together, it’s literally been 24 hours since you left the gym. You’ve eaten a ton of crap, gotten garbage sleep, not stretched or done anything to help the stiffness and deep aches that reside in your entire body, and you have to figure out when you will fit in a Costco trip over the next few day in between work and training.
You, my friend, have blown it, because you didn’t respect the day. You treated it like Mardi Gras, not one of the most important days in your training schedule. I would argue that you should attack the rest day with the same kind of vigor as you would a training day. I get the fact you need to relax a little and enjoy yourself so you don’t become way too wound up, but there are still certain things to remember, and that rest and good nutrition can only help your cause; coasting on these can have damaging effects.
Next time, come home and order that pizza because you did earn it. While you’re waiting for the guy, prepare your next 3 days of meals, set the alarm on your phone to go off at 9:30, and that’s the time to go to bed. And please take a shower; you can even take your knee sleeves in with you. Spend the next day getting things in order for the next few days by running errands or helping out around the house. Being prepared in this game is huge no matter what day it is. In reality there are no "off" days.
As Henry Rollins said, “No such thing as down time; All you got is life time”.