Rest Days Are Important… But That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Train Every Day

There’s something that’s come up quite a bit recently. It appears I come off as a hypocrite.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll note that I train every day. The days where I don’t do some form of training are few and far between.

And so when I preach to others the importance of resting and recovering, yet train daily myself, I look like a hypocrite.

Here’s the thing, though…

Yes, I train every day. But there are two important, often overlooked factors on how and why I do it.

First, I’ve worked up to this ability to train daily, often multiple times a day, over the past two decades.

In the fall, I’d go from football to wrestling to the gym.

In the winter and spring, I’d go from one wrestling practice to another. Then to the gym.

In the summer, it was track and field to baseball or lacrosse, and then to the gym.

Five or six days a week, I had multiple practices for a variety of sports. And I lifted weights every day on top of it. Even Christmas and New Year’s.

And, well, that counts for something.

Four years of consistent training doesn’t just disappear. The work capacity and ability to recover from one session to the next that I developed has stuck with me.

So, yes, I train every day. But I’ve been practicing it for a long time.

If you want to train daily, you need to start small and slowly increase your work capacity over time.

The second and most important point is that I don’t train hard every day.

In fact, very rarely do I go above an 80% effort level.

Once or twice a week I’ll have a “tough” workout. These “tough” workouts, though, are still kept at 80% effort.

I save my 100% for once every few months.

Giving a true 100% takes a lot out of me. If I tried to do it every week, my “100%” would keep getting worse. I couldn’t recover properly. My training cycle would be a complete mess. And my 100% would start to look a lot like my 75%.

And that doesn’t sound like fun.

80%, tops, once or twice a week, allows me to stay fresh and stick with an appropriate training program. A training program where the majority of my sessions are at a pretty easy, 30-50% effort level.

My daily rucks, tire drags, and most of my work capacity sessions… they’re actually pretty easy. They’re fun. They’re light. They keep me active and engaged and, essentially, these are my rest days.

Rest days are important. I’m not going to dispute that. But taking a “rest day” doesn’t mean you need to sit on the couch, watch TV, and eat junk all day.

A rest day can simply be a day where we don’t train as hard, we switch up the activity, or we focus on other aspects of our goals.

A rest day is a perfect opportunity to go for a nice, easy hike. It’s active, but it’s active recovery. And it will do more to restore your mind and body than beat it down.

A rest day can also be a great opportunity to work on our diet. We can shop for and prepare the food we need for the week ahead. Sometimes I’ll grab my ruck and shop for groceries with it on. And it’s a great rest day!

Rucking can be really tough. But it can also be pretty easy. An easy ruck is a great way to give our mind and body the rest it needs. Using half the weight as usual and keeping the pace nice and slow is a solid rest day in my books.

If you’re a runner, going for a bike ride or swim – again, at a leisurely easy pace – can make for a great rest day. You’re still moving, but it’s “different”.

And sometimes that’s all a “rest day” needs to be. Different.

A lighter weight. A slower pace. A new activity.

Now, I’m not saying rest days are the time to try a new CrossFit workout. Nor are they the days to go for a personal record or take on some crazy ruck challenge.

But Having a rest day does not mean you need to become a sloth.

Training is something I love to do.

I would rather go for a ruck, sprint up hills, press some kettlebells, or drag a tire than almost anything else in the world. Being able to do it every day is important to me. This is why I need to train appropriately.

As much as I’d love to go hard and #EmbraceTheSuck every day, I know that doing so means I would need to take a few days off each week. And that’s not something I’m prepared to do.

So instead, I stay within my limits. I train in a state of “Flow“.

I enjoy it and remind myself I’m doing it because it’s fun, and it’s what makes me “me”.

And, as it turns out, I get a whole lot better in the process.