The Art of “Resting”

By Jim Bryan*

If anyone had mentioned this to me 40 years ago I probably wouldn’t have listened. I liked activity. The truth is that you can’t keep pounding away without some down time now and then. Most of us that read this Newsletter (High Performance Training Newsletter) are into “hard” training. Do you ever just feel like you can’t get going or that you’ve been run over by a truck? We all have different levels of energy. Some feel the bone weary tiredness before others. We all could benefit from a planned layoff now and then. When you get back to training your ready to go and have that “fire” again.

Used to be when I went on vacation, the first thing I would do is pick up the telephone book for the city I was staying in. I would look for the closest gym or health club. I would get up in the morning and be waiting for them to open up. (usually around 5:30 AM) I would workout and then get back to the resort before my Wife woke up. Now, I use the vacation as down time away from the gym. I was in Hawaii almost a month and didn’t workout. My joints felt great when I got back home. AND I didn’t look any different. The muscles DID NOT disappear! If I had only known this 40 years ago. Oh! That’s right, I didn’t/wouldn’t listen to the one’s with more experience. One thing I am grateful for is that there wasn’t an Internet to go to when I was starting out. WAY to many “experts.” No wonder so many are confused today.

I did read the Muscle Magazines and something that stood out was that many of the lifters back then took the whole summer off. I remember reading this in the Hoffman Mags. And also hearing about it first hand. I didn’t believe it then. I’ve lived in Florida all my life and summers here can be very draining. But I slugged through them like a mad man. I rarely gained during the summer. I had to fight just to keep my body weight up. I had the obsession that some of you have today. Yeah that’s right! Obsession. I don’t care how long you’ve been training or how many times you’ve been published. If you continue beating yourself beyond reason, you’re obsessed.

Now, when I’m on a layoff or planned “Rest Cycle” I usually catch up on my reading. I read about training. (not the pec pumpers Mags.) I gather articles from my friends and books that they send me. I kick back and catch up. I read about research (sometimes good for a laugh) I read about Sports that I like, such as Boxing, Surfing, Strong man. I also read about Nutrition……..and usually come away confused J My interest in Health and Fitness  has been going on my whole life. I also read coaching manuals when my friends send them to me (wink, wink J)  I don’t get on the Internet while I’m on vacation. The constant bickering of the boards wears me down.

When I get back from vacation I look at my training logs. I make some notes, think about what I want to do and look at doing exercises that I haven’t done for awhile. I start back slow and use less weight. Intensity is low the first few times in the gym. I resist beating myself the first day back…….. and the second…….and the third. Pretty soon I’ve been back for a few workouts and I’m back training hard. I am having fun again. After 47+ years (and tears) that is saying something. FUN! Do you enjoy your training or are you a slave to it?

This activity can be done all our lives if we want. Train with health in mind. Forget the bloated, latest Mr. “Anything” They are not healthy. They don’t have anything to do with training for athletics. Many will not be able to work out later. Some won’t make it, and you know what I mean.

Be strong…..Live long!!

Mahalo Nui loa!

This article was originally Written for: “High Performance Training Newsletter” 8/2004