Should I rest or should I train?

Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise, nutrition and the science behind them, which are my areas of expertise, but I also talk about sleeping habits, minimalism and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle. 

Today is leg day, but I’m really sore, I have very little energy and I kind of feel under the weather, should I rest or should I train?

I want to bring up this hotly debated subject, one that I haven’t even been able to position myself on either side of. Like everything else, I want to say that a middle ground is probably the best, however, this may be the exception. I can say without any doubt that before you can position yourself on one side or the other you must know yourself very well. In fitness this is not easy, and even people who know (or think that they know) themselves very well might misunderstand the signs their bodies send them. So, should I skip today’s training and rest or should I push myself and go anyway?

Like I mentioned before, it’s important to know yourself very well before skipping a training session or getting hurt going to a training session in bad conditions. When it’s time to go for your training session you won’t always feel pumped and ready for it. This lack of motivation can be mistaken for tiredness or even sickness. Someone who knows themselves very well will know whether they’re tired because they had a big day, or whether they feel sick. This process of getting to know oneself sometimes may require a psychologist to guide you.

Now, when should I hear my inner voice telling me to stay home and rest, and when should I fight my demons and go to the gym even though today I’m not feeling motivated? The answer to this depends on the scenario, and on the person. If you’re someone who tends to do this often (canceling on your PT session, not showing up to a class, not following your training programs) perhaps you are being a little lazy. We rely too much on motivation to exercise, and the truth is that sometimes you won’t feel motivated. In this case, the answer to the big question is simple: train without motivation. Motivation is overrated.

If you’re someone who goes to their sessions regularly and barely ever cancels and you feel this way one day, my advice is to ask you a couple of questions: are you tired? Are you sick? Have you been training religiously and your body might be asking for a break? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then have yourself a day off. Someone who is very responsible about their physical health and does exercise regularly will generally know when their body is asking for a break, and they must learn how to give it to themselves. If ever you feel demotivated but you still want to get some exercise done, opt for a lighter kind of exercise such as gentle yoga, stretches, or a walk.

The issue is that those who don’t take responsibility for their physical health will find a good excuse to skip training. They too can feel sick or tired, and it gets to a point in which they can’t differentiate between feeling sick or extremely tired and feeling lazy and lacking motivation. For those people, my only advice is to do something, regardless of how they’re feeling (or they think they’re feeling). A nice 20-30′ walk, a stretching or yoga session, a 15′ resistance training session using your body weight, or a relaxing bike ride will make a great difference. In fact, chances are you will start increasing your dopamine levels and you’ll end up doing more than that.

Last but not least, I would like to bring up a sub-subject. I don’t want to finish this post without mentioning women and their periods. I do agree that: having your period should never be a reason to not do exercise for a week. Nonetheless, I can’t stand when male (or sometimes even female) trainers push a woman when she’s on her period or the previous week like he pushes her when she’s on the second and third week of her cycle. Our hormones have much bigger fluctuations than for men, and it’s simply not nice to be pushed when you’re at your minimum. Male trainers, we want to keep training, but take it easy. Reduce the intensity (less reps, less load), reduce the frequency of sessions on that week, change the exercises, and most of all, be sympathetic. Thanks to this beautiful, underestimated cycle you and all of the rest of the world are alive. Furthermore, a woman tends to know themselves much better than men know themselves. So if you’re on your period, do not stop training but rather adjust your training or ask your trainer if you have one to adjust your session. Exercising while on our period may have great benefits for us women, but that’s a subject for another post.

That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy it. If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Should you have feedback you’d like to leave, a comment to share with me, or a cool idea for a post, send me an email to sanchisayslifestyle@gmail.com

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