Carol McManus Memorial 5K & 5 Mile Race/Walk
Rest days allow for physiological and psychological benefits that are vital to athletic progress.
Physiologically, rest allows the body to learn from and adapt to the recent physical stress, repair muscles, rebuild, and be stronger and better adapted for the next physical challenge (in our case, a workout). In CrossFit we believe in relative intensity and work to dial in our athletes’ workouts to an intensity level that hovers in the “hard but doable” realm. The result is an adaptation that continuously tips the athlete toward stronger, more skilled, faster, you get the point. But the CRAZY PART is that this adaptation takes place during the rest and recovery phase, not during the workout! Too much intensity or too little recovery blunts the adaptation creating an athlete that is headed toward plateau rather than continuous improvement.
Psychologically, and when viewed correctly, rest days give us a mental edge in workouts. When an athlete embraces the time off they come back stronger and work harder in workouts. I say “when viewed corretly” as many athletes feel guilty about their rest days and instead waste tons of mental energy worrying about not working our rather than reaping the benefits.
As athletes (and not just CrossFit athletes) we constantly chase performance and for many, appearance too. We’ll do anything for a better run time, a faster Fran, or a heavier deadlift. Change my diet? Sure, tell me what I can and can’t eat. Buy the right shoes? Sure, where do I pay? Take a day off? NO WAY.
Rest and recovery includes true rest days as well as rest in the form of consistent quality sleep (and that means 7+ hours). Think you can perform well on 5 hours of sleep a night? Think again. But that’s for another post!
To recap, take a long range look. Sure, the removal of rest days will progress you quickly for 6 months to a year. But it will catch-up to you. Why not go for the 10 year plan?