As fitness enthusiasts, we tend to believe more is better. More time at the gym doing cardio translates into more weight loss. More time at the gym lifting weights means more muscles. However, there is a time when less is more in the world of fitness; a time when you should just say no to going to the gym. I’m certainly not saying stop your exercise routine, but there should be some scheduled rest days sprinkled in during the week.
1. Overtraining Can Lead To Long Term Injury
If you’re not cognizant of when to call a timeout, overtraining can take it’s toll by causing a multitude of injuries. Chronic joint pain can be brought on by overtraining and will certainly force you to take a break; if left uncorrected, or ignored, it can lead to arthritis and other degenerative conditions. Muscle imbalances and postural deficiencies can also be made worse by overtraining, and since these conditions are very gradual, you’re not likely to notice until it hurts. With that said, don’t try to be the tough guy, or girl, and push through the workout. You could be doing more harm than good. Please know some of these degenerative conditions can be non-reversible and can lead to long term pain and discomfort years down the road.
2. More Activity Means More Food
The more you drive your car, the more fuel it needs; your body is no different. The more activity you engage in, the more food you’ll need to eat. Quick math lesson: Bob needs to be at a 1,000 calorie deficit daily. Bob eats 2,000 calories a day and has a daily caloric burn from activity (workouts, work related activity, etc..) of 2,000. Bob also has a BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR – estimated caloric burn if you were to do nothing but rest for a 24 hour period) of 1000. If Bob were to increase his gym activity, he’d have to increase his food intake to stay in a healthy range of safe weight loss. Increasing the time at the gym will also increase the amount of money spent on food, increase meal prep time, and decrease personal time. Find a good ratio of input versus output and stick with it; you’ll be happy you did.
3. You Can Plateau Or Even Gain Weight
Working out too intensely and too often can actually lead to unsafe weight loss. However, the real kicker is that it can lead to weight gain! Your body is smart and when it feels like you’re doing damage to it, its defense mechanisms kick in. Your weight loss will stall and, in some instances, you’ll even gain weight that is not associated with lean muscle.
4. Rest = Gains
Lifting weights creates microscopic tears in your muscles that can only be repaired during rest. The repetitive process of breaking down the muscle and resting is what gets you those gains and growth. Yes, it’s very important to stimulate those muscle fibers by weight training, but its equally important to allow those muscles to fully recover.
5. No Free Time
Those two hour workout sessions each day can put a serious damper on your social life. If you’re not a competitive athlete, what’s the point? It’s very important to make time for quality of life boosters other than the gym. You’d be surprised at how just hanging out with friends or catching up on your favorite show can help you mentally decompress just as much as the gym. Time is something we can never get back, so it’s okay to take time to catch up on pop culture, go to a social event, or create exciting new memories with loved ones. After all, nobody is ever going to say, “Remember that time at the gym?”
Bottom line, it’s okay not to hit the gym every single day. It is extremely important to find balance and listen to your body.