Being Strategically Lazy

A couple of days ago, I was in a puppy-kicking rage. (This video convinced me not to do it.) Today, I am not going to the gym. I’ll pass by it on my way home from work, but I’m not going in. When I get home, I won’t do the first pushup, crunch, or jumping jack. The only walking I’ll do is what gets done at the office or at home. For today, at least, I’m whole-heartedly commited to being a lazy prick.

There are lots of different workouts you can do to get in the kind of shape you want to be in. You can do barbell exercises, dumbbell exercises, bodyweight exercises, running, walking, jogging, interval training, mountain biking, city biking, stationary biking, plyometrics, swimming, Zumba, Sweatin’ to the Oldies, high-intensity chicken-catching, or anything in-between. Despite the various differences all these programs have, there is one thing they all have in common–

Rest.

My high school band director used to tell us that “silence was golden”, and that it wasn’t just playing notes that mattered, but also not playing in the space between the notes. (Coincidentally, the musical term for such a space is a “rest”.) If you think about it, working out is no different. Making sure you get to the gym (or trail, or track) consistently is important, but just as important is making sure you give your body time to recover. When you work out, you put strain on your body. When you rest, you’re not just allowing your muscles time to recover–you’re giving them time to become stronger. True story. The muscles repair themselves, creating newer, stronger fibers which allow you to lift more weight or run longer the next time you work out. Neat, huh?

When attempting to achieve a fitness goal, many people go way too hard at the beginning and don’t take days off. This leads to three things: injuries, burnout, and a Little Voice in your head asking “Why the hell did you do that, you dunce?!” Good question, Little Voice–although, some of you guilty of going too hard might say the same Little Voice was the one who pushed you too far in the first place, using statements like, “Yeah, you can do 300 crunches on Day 1,” “Go on, one more set of squats won’t hurt,” or “Those five miles were fast, but I bet you could do a sixth one faster.”

Come to think of it, Little Voice sounds like a stupid dickface.

Don’t be trapped by Little Voice, or by pressure put on you by your friends or yourself. Create a schedule–complete with rest days–and stick to it. Enjoy your days off. Give yourself breathing room, and feel good knowing that each second you rest, you’re getting stronger and faster by being strategically lazy.

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