10 Reasons Why Taking a Break from the Gym Can Be a Good Thing
Can you believe it? I spend so much time trying to motivate all of you to workout and be active, that I forget every now and again I need to remind you that sometimes stepping OUT of the gym is also a good idea. On occasion it’s just what you and your body need to keep you moving forward in a fitness regimen. And I’m not just talking about taking a break to rest, but also because you may just need to get the heck out of the gym! Here’s why:
1. Your Gains Have Stopped – Sometimes you’ve been hitting the gym hard and eating well but have just reached a plateau. If you’ve been consistently working out for a few months or more, there’s a good chance your body needs a break to recuperate, refresh and get back at it again next week. It’s also a good time to take at look at your plan (you have been on a plan right?) and see what’s worked for you and what hasn’t! Then you can make the necessary changes to go forward with a new program.
2. You’re Feeling Restless – The truth is that many of us work around the clock and yet are still dedicated to our fitness regimens. The result is that we end up overworked and under-rested. If you’re only getting 5 hours of sleep per night, are restless, lethargic, irritable or just dragging all day, it’s time to skip the gym for a week or two and rest up. Heck, maybe even try to sleep in on a weekend in place of your workout.
3. You Need Some Fresh Air – A lot of us are gym rats – I know I’m guilty. But how about taking a week or two out of the gym and getting back in touch with nature and recreational activities? I know we all love to pump iron and take classes, but playing basketball or baseball, going for a run or hike, biking or just doing anything outdoors is a great change of pace. In fact you may even burn more calories then in the gym by staying active in a real, functional way! I always say the outdoors is Mother Nature’s fitness center – try using it!
4. You’re Socializing Too Much – If you’ve been a member of the same gym for a number of years, chances are you know a lot of other members. If you find yourself socializing at the gym more than working out, it may be time to try some at home workouts. I know it’s nice to feel a sense of camaraderie and share your stories and experiences with friends, but don’t lose sight of why you’re there in the first place! Go to the gym to workout, improve your health and get in shape, not to catch up with friends!
5. You’re Neglecting Your Family And Friends – Life is really all about balance and even I find myself sometimes so wrapped up and regimented in my workouts that I often lose sight of some other very important aspects of my life. In fact I can admit I’m sometimes downright neglectful. If you have a spouse, girlfriend, children, family or friends, sometimes it’s nice to take a week away from the gym and spend those hours with them to show you care and demonstrate that you know they too are as important as the gym. A week away from the gym will mean a lot to those who you care about.
6. Your Finances Are Kaput! – In these tough economic times it amazes me how many people pay for a gym membership and don’t go! In fact that’s a behavior that many big chains count on so that they can over-sell memberships. They make a ton of money from people who pay their monthly dues and then never use the gym. Some fitness centers charge up to $80 per month and it’s money that you’re literally just throwing away. Remember, using just your bodyweight and minimal equipment you can get a great workout right in your home, for FREE!
7. You’re Too Ill – One thing that irks the living daylights out of me is when I see and hear people who are sick in the gym working out! Not only is it rude and inconsiderate to fellow gym members, but it actually does the person in question no good either. It amazes me that people think they can sweat out a cold or flu with exercise and somehow believe that taking time out of the gym, even to overcome illness or an injury, will somehow set them back! That’s just insane, get out of the gym, stop working out and heal up.
8. Your Workouts Are Making You Fat! – I know it sounds crazy but I’ve seen this happen first hand. Too much exercise with little to no rest for months on end can make you fatter, weaker and less muscular. In my Top 10: Signs You’re Overtraining post, I talked about how too much exercise can release the stress hormone cortisol. Besides making you achy, weaker and lethargic, it can also contribute to fat gain – especially around the abdomen. So if you’re a fitness freak and think you’re doing everything right, but still letting your pants out, it may be time to take a break from the gym.
9. You’re Becoming Obsessed – Are you obsessed with exercise? Is it ALL you talk about? When you have conversations with friends, do you find yourself always talking about your weight, fitness routines and exercise related information? Guess what – you’re obsessed. Okay it’s not so bad, but you need to get this ‘problem’ in check. I know quite a few people that I avoid like the plague because of this problem and I’m a personal trainer! Even I don’t always talk fitness and I’m The Angry Trainer! Make fitness PART of your life, not your ENTIRE life.
10. Your Workouts Suck! – Ha, I had to include this. How many times have you not felt like going to the gym, you were tired, grumpy and just didn’t want to go. I know, you thought once you got there you’d get into it and everything would be great. Except it never happened! And your workout sucked! Now if this is a once in a while occurrence that’s to be expected, but if these types of days are happening more frequently, you need to take a break. Trust me, after some time away from the gym you’ll be itching to hit the iron…
To summarize, I can’t stress how important taking breaks from working out is. Lets remember that exercise is really maintenance of your body, and a replacement for the natural activity we’d be getting if we were in nature. But in that natural environment we wouldn’t be going all out, everyday – we’d have days of higher intensity, some lighter days with less activity and I’m sure a few days when we’d just kick back and relax. And your workout program should be just the same. It’s not just good for your body, but your brain, mental condition and emotions as well. If you’ve been busting your butt for a while, take a week and chill out. You’ll be better for it in the long run.