Why "No Days Off" Is Bad Advice (And What To Do Instead)
Ready to renounce your membership to #TeamNoDaysOff? Here’s how to graduate to a more mature way of thinking.
“No Days Off” is a hashtag, a t-shirt slogan, even a team name. You’ll find it emblazoned on mugs, velcro badges, and probably more than one tattoo. But like its close cousin Sleep When I’m Dead, it’s bad advice.
What does No Days Off mean?
Like all fitness-themed phrases, “no days off” can’t be attributed to anyone in particular. Instead, it’s a familiar part of the loud, aggressive gym culture that found a home on social media. Do its disciples really mean they aspire to never taking a day off training? It seems unlikely. But that’s what the mantra means. No resting, no taking your eye off the ball. Training is everything.
5 problems with the No Days Off philosophy
Of course training is important. We know that, you know that. Consistency and hard work is how you make progress in any sport. But having “no days off” as a goal is setting yourself up for overwhelm, guilt, and probably a string of injuries.
1 You won’t be able to recover
Training every day? When do you get to rest? We all know the rest days and deload weeks are important for getting stronger and building muscle. None of that will happen if you’re #smashingit 7 days a week
2 You won’t actually make progress
Training every day is a red herring. You might feel like you’re pushing forward, ticking the boxes and showing up. But if you put aside the ego, train smarter, and recover properly, you’ll make real progress.
3 You may find it hard to manage your calorie balance
Training every day can put you in a spiral of over eating, then over training to burn it off. It’s a bad space to be in if you already have a negative relationship with food. Fuel your training, not the other way round.
4 You’ll get injured (or at the very least sore)
Training every day is a one-way ticket to the physio clinic. Even if you’re genetically blessed and have spare time to do daily foam rolling, you’ll end up sore and tight. The rest of us will wind up much worse. And can you imagine how hard it will be for you to take 2 weeks off to recover?
5 You’ll feel guilty (for what?)
Voluntarily signing up to arbitrary rules like “no days off” is just asking for overwhelm. You’ll feel the daily pressure of living up to the rule, and if you do the sensible thing and take time off, you’ll probably feel the guilt of FOMO.
Is there ever a good way to approach No Days Off?
Perhaps we can reframe the “no days off” mantra so it’s a reminder to move your body every day. If “no days off” meant training or walking or doing mobility work or simply being active every day, that’s a decent set up for long-term wellness.
You probably already do some kind of activity every day, even if you don’t feel it counts as training. But remember that weekly health recommendations are 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. You would probably do more than that even if you took the week off training completely.
How to formulate a long-term training approach
We still think it’s healthy to allow yourself complete rest days from time to time. Let’s face it, if you’re passionate about training and lead a healthy lifestyle, a duvet day won’t even touch the sides. Here’s our suggestion for a solid approach to long-term fitness.
3-4 x formal training sessions (including strength training)
2+ mobility or yoga sessions a week
1+ formal cardio session
70,000+ steps a week
1 x 30 minute walk a day
We’re taking applications for Team Stay Active and Enjoy What You Do. Who’s in?
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