Last Tuesday was the first day in two weeks that I was in the gym. I originally planned on taking a week off to let my body recover from several weeks of intense training. It ended up lasting longer than I thought. My nervous system needed that time to recover or else I’d be at risk of a possible injury. That time off just fueled my hunger to work out. I wanted to lift weight as bad as a dog wants a piece of steak. During my break from lifting, I didn’t just sit on the couch and watch Netflix. I did things that I believe would help me achieve my fitness goals.
What Did I do?
During my two weeks away, I made sure to be active in other ways. I did a lot of yoga and meditation to help me counteract the stress caused by heavy lifting and overall intense training. My yoga and meditation sessions typically lasted for 45 minutes per session. The yoga also helped me work on my mobility. I also did a lot of leopard crawls to keep my core engaged. Leopard crawls and other contralateral movements are also good for refreshing your nervous system because they engage both sides of your brain at the same time. I really got into these movements when I stumbled upon Tim Anderson’s blog Original Strength. https://originalstrength.net/
I was also fortunate that the temperatures in my city rose so I could go for walks. I love walking because they promote blood flow though out my body to speed up muscle recovery. Walking also has fat burning benefits, especially when doing them in a fasted state Walk This Way To Burn Fat!. I had one intense training day. I did resisted hill sprints to keep my nervous system awake. The workout involved me doing short hill sprints while wearing a weighted vest. In addition to the weighted vest, I also attached a speed harness to make the workout more intense. It’s a good workout for athletes who want to boost their speed.By having time to regain my energy, I also found other hobbies that I enjoy, such as drawing. The image below is a drawing I made to symbolize strength. Looking at it daily gives me a confidence boost in my physical abilities.
How was My First Day Back in The Gym?
On my first day back, my body felt great. Those two weeks made a world of difference for my recovery. I regret trying to lift heavy on my first day back. I felt great but my nervous system wasn’t prepared to do heavy back squats after two weeks of being so relaxed. I failed on some reps that I normally wouldn’t. I wish I eased myself in more. When I take only one week off, my body feels recovered and I’m still feel comfortable with the movements. The next couple of workouts went a lot smoother. I learned my lesson and I’ll never try to go heavy on my first day after a long layoff.
What I Wish I Did During The Two Weeks
Lift: When I say lift, I mean do a workout that’s different than what I do in my typical routine. If I don’t do a sprint session during my “week off “, I like to do a lifting session that’s out of my routine and focuses on stimulating my body rather than going all out. The key is to only do one session during the week or else there’s no purpose of having a recovery week. This is my personal preference but everyone’s body responds differently to different stimuli.
Visualize: If I ever take a long break from lifting again, I’ll utilize visualization. Basically, visualization is when you imagine yourself doing something. The reason it works is because your mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and imagined. Visualization can be used for anything from fitness to career goals. High level athletes like Conor Mcgregor and Lindsey Vonn have used visualization to help them achieve success. By seeing yourself succeed at a task, you’ll have more confidence when it’s time to perform the task. There’s also been studies showing people being able to increase their strength just through visualization. This makes a lot of sense since the brain is the center of the nervous system.
In general, I don’t regret taking that time off. That time off made me appreciate my workout more. The time off also gave me time to figure out a way to make my workouts more efficient and avoid burning out. I feel like I have a fresh start in my training, while still carrying over the gains I’ve earned. I’m currently experimenting with Isometrics and Contrast training methods for the first time in my life. I plan on sharing how those training methods affect me.
Here’s a link to a study by the Strength Journal which shows the relationship between visualization and strength performance.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/author/226aea”>simmons.kevin4208</a> on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”> CC BY</a>