December 20, 2010 posted by

It’s My Party And I’ll Play If I Want To

Since I’m getting a lot of questions about what I do during a rest phase I will explain. Since these questions are mainly from our customers, who do home fitness programs, I’ll work this into my answer even though most of my goals for the year will happen outside.

The main objective of a rest phase is to take a break from targeted regimentation. No one can stay focused all the time and hoards of studies show that it’s better if we don’t try. So my primary goal during this time is to force myself not be think about my goals, future, or current state of fitness. This is fairly difficult and takes constant attention because we’re all creatures of habit and my daily existence is filled with concerns over fitness. No matter how I try these remain in my head but I force my actions to be contrary to my habits.

This will scare those of you who once were unfit and had to fight to get to where you are today. While natural, you should look at my advice as prescient because I’ve been dealing with this most of my life. Pushing your motivation too far will lead to a breakdown. 100%. Backing off before the lull will have you both physically and mentally reading to see your next challenge through to its end. Your main concern, I find, is that reverting back to your “old” habits will lead you back to your old un-healthy agenda. It won’t, however, because you should plan your break so that your next training cycle begins before these old habits have a chance to take hold. View it as that your training programs are your real life and your recovery phase is a vacation.

Also, as you’ll see from my example, you needn’t waste away on vacation. I ‘m probably spending as much time being active as normal. The only difference is that it’s not targeted; merely play.

Because I’ve got two furry maniacs dependent upon me for their exercise I spend between 45m and 2 hours each day outside running around, often with my wife or friends. This can be hiking, running, skiing, or biking. Mostly I’m going at an aerobic pace but I’ll vary it without any plan. If I feel like doing intervals I will but mainly it’s steady and slow. My scientific view of this is that’s its building base aerobic conditioning that is varied enough to work a lot of difference muscle sets. I’d say my average outing is about 1:15-1:30.

I also go into the gym but my workouts are short: 10 – 20 minutes. Because I know I need to improve both mobility and joint stability that’s all I’m doing. I’m experimenting with this shoulder joint stabilization workout and doing 50 reps of different types of stability squats/hip mobilization and balance exercises. Some days I do the rice bucket workout to keep my finger/hand/forearm/elbow connection balanced. For mobility I’ve been using the foam roller at lot. While this can take some time I do it watching movies, which I’d be doing anyway. I also do some ab stuff in front of the tele. If the mood strikes I’ll do some yoga or take a Bikram class.

So, as you see, I’m not exactly inactive. I’m just playing, not training. I do the same thing with diet. If I want fries, dessert, cocktails, whatever, it’s on. No zigging. No zagging. No real thought about diet. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I’m hitting happy hour followed by all-you-can-eat rib night either. I feel like ass when I eat or drink too much. And I don’t like feeling like ass. It makes me surly. So my diet is still decent; just a lot worse than normal.

The lesson here is that your breaks in your training program should end up not only letting your mind and body recover but validate your healthy lifestyle. As much as you try to be like you were pre-90X (or whatever) you are no longer that person. You feel better when you’re healthy. You like it better when you look good. Life is better when you’re active. And the more you believe it, the more motivation you’ll have during your next training program.

pics: speed bartending at my own party with ex-world’s fastest climber hans florine, making plans to get rid of the ex (more on this later), and playing with the family in the uintas.


  • Foam rolling is so 2001. PVC pipe rolling is the future.

  • More painful? I can see how it can be cheaper to have varying diameters. Any other benefits?

  • I just look at results. After several years of foam rolling, I wasn't making progress. I switched to PVC for some tissue. I still use foam rolling for sensitive areas. For some tough areas, I have someone (who doesn't like me) compress the body part onto the PVC.I only use one size of PVC, six inches in diameter wrapped in athletic tape. I use a lacrosse ball to "hit the corners."

  • Enlighten me.WTF is "foam rolling"?

  • A myofacial release technique. Hugely important if you have back problem, pelvic instability, or any joint issues. Brian, I'll get some pvc and check out the difference. I can see how it might matter for hard to reach areas (like using baseball, golf balls, where do you get a lacrosse ball–did you go to Princeton?). But I can't say I've ever felt like foam wasn't dense enough. I almost cry ever time I foam roll.

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