Every exerciser has one of those days where he or she is in the zone. You know the feeling: You’re lifting or you’re running harder than ever before, and it feels amazing.
Of course, not every workout comes so easy.
Fortunately, though, an easy workout from time to time might be just what your body needs to push through longer, more strenuous ones in the future. Any exercise will challenge your body and cause tiny tears in your muscles. Your body shifts into repair mode once you’re done, which strengthens your muscles and organs. This means you’ll come to your next workout with just a little bit more powerful, which is why a once-difficult workout gets easier and easier over time.
You might wonder why you’d bother slowing down, considering how much your body needs this wear and tear in order to improve itself. Here are four reasons why it pays to slow down your workout schedule every once in a while. Read them and then take a break — you’ve most certainly earned it.
It Helps You Build Up to Better Workouts
This rule applies to everyone, but especially to those new to exercise. Your body doesn’t have as much cardiovascular strength, which means your heart will have a harder time getting you the oxygen you need to sustain you during a hard workout. Easier sessions help your heart catch up and prepare for later, tougher workouts.
It Still Does Its Job
Just because you aren’t aching and limping your way out of the gym doesn’t mean that your workout was a failure. In fact, low-intensity workouts provide your body many of the same benefits as high-intensity sessions. You’ll still burn calories, tone your muscles, improve endurance and leave you with the same flood of feel-good endorphins.
It Fights Stress
When you’re working hard at the office and at the gym, your brain might suffer — not all sweat sessions have stress-busting effects. In fact, layering high stress upon high stress can lead you to over-train. Signs of overtraining include fatigue, irritability, an inability to focus or sleep and chronic thirst. Perhaps the worst part is that many sufferers don’t see the signs and slow down their training because they’re so used to the feeling of stress, both mental and physical. Give your body a rest so as to avoid any possibility of overtraining.
It’ll Keep You In For the Long Run
Finally, a workout schedule dotted with less-intense sessions is more likely to inspire you to stay fit for the long haul. For many people, a high-intensity routine is a means to an end. Perhaps you want to look great for your wedding or skinny-jean season; no matter the reason, these goals come and go quickly, and, once they’re reached, you might not keep up with your demanding regimen. A workout schedule that, say, alternates high- and low-intensity workouts will give you the rest you need without giving you enough time to give up or lose interest. And, if you dread days off at the gym, fear not: you can still show up seven days a week so long as you give yourself a few easy runs on the elliptical or enroll in a gentle yoga class.
Ultimately, the key is to find the right balance for you. No two workout schedules will be exactly alike, and for good reason: your goals, your strengths and your areas for improvement are yours alone. Now, get out there and get into the shape of your dreams, low-intensity sessions included.