Tuesday, October 21, 2014

5 Reasons to Take a Break From Your Exercise Program

The Captain and I have been working our way through a second round of the Metabolic Aftershock workouts.  For those of you not familiar with the program, I will share a bit about it.  I bought the program and downloaded the workouts, in video format, led by the creator and performed by 3 different 'trainers', each one doing an easy, normal,  or harder version of the exercises.

It is a series of bodyweight exercises and each session takes 15 minutes to get through. There is a warm up provided, then the workout.  And you are instructed to do your own cool/stretch session and then go for walk.  Our stretch and cool down takes about 4 or 5 minutes and then we put on dry clothing and head out for a brisk half hour walk… we love these workouts, and the way they leave us energized for the day… but that is another post.

The program is broken down into three 3-week phases.  Each phase has 3 workouts… A, B, and C which are to be performed on non-consecutive days of the week.  For example, during weeks 1 through 3 we did phase 1 A on Mondays, phase 1 B on Wednesdays and phase 1 C on Fridays… then weeks 4 through 6 we did phase 2 workouts and weeks 7 through 9 we are getting through phase 3 workouts… the 9 weeks will end nicely just before we head to Las Vegas for a week… and that got me to thinking about the the subject of this post.

For me, there have been lots of different reasons, or perhaps excuses, to take a break from my current exercise program.  Some of them pretty lame, when I think back over the years… but for the most part, once I start something, I tend to see it through. But there are times and circumstances that give way to legitimate reasons to take a break.  Let’s look at my top 5.

5 reasons

1.  You are injured or become ill.

This is probably the most important reason, in my opinion, to take a break.  You need time to let the injury heal properly and completely... or to recover from your flu or chest cold, whatever it may be, before you can resume your workouts.  Sometimes you can change to a different exercise but sometimes you just genuinely need to stop and  rest.  And if you see a doctor, make sure you discuss your concerns with them and follow their instructions.

2.  The program has come to its natural/planned conclusion.

The Metabolic Aftershock program I am following right now is 9 weeks long.  In the past I have done strength training programs that are 12 weeks long. I have done bootcamp sessions that are 3 months long. Perhaps you have been training for a half marathon and the race is run and done.  When the program is over,  it is a great time to take a few days off and then start something new.

3. You are not enjoying it anymore.

Not every type of exercise is for everyone.  I love to try every new workout and exercise style that comes along… well most of them… but sometimes I get myself into something that I just don’t care for… and I eventually get bored or decide really hate it and quit.  I did #plankaday for weeks but really started to feel like it was just annoying. It’s okay.  Find something different and move on.

4.  You are mentally burned out.

Our lives get hectic… busy… stressful.  And very often, regular exercise is just what the doctor ordered to help ease our tension and give us an endorphin lift.  But if the diffucult schedule, or the cost of coach or trainer or classes, or the rigors of it all are just adding to the stress in your life, it may be time to take a break till things settle down.  Or, it just might be that you have hit a stalemate and cannot face another day of burpees in your bootcamp, or one more uphill mile in your 10k training… you’ll know.  Do yourself a huge favor and take a rest.

5.  You are  not making any progress.

Sometimes our progress just stalls.  We can’t lift any more weight. We can't do any more reps. We can’t shave any more seconds off our 5k runs.  It  just might be time to give the body a rest… then get back to it with fresh muscles or a new plan of attack.

Have you ever taken a break from your exercise program?  How did it help or hinder your performance or your attitude?


  1. I love that you and the captain do this workout together. My main reason for taking a break from a particular workout is that I am just plain Lazy!!...lol

  2. My work out routine is NOT doing any of these things to me so I am going to keep at it! ha ah! And I never ever give myself breaks because my work out always PUMPS ME UP!

  3. I try to take a week off every 4-5 months. Usually that coincides with a trip, so that's handy. :)

  4. I think it is really healthy to take breaks from whatever workout routine one is doing, AS LONG AS you replace it with something else, the case of injury notwithstandng, although many times there's still something you CAN do. I think it helps you come back fresher physically and mentally and challenges your muscles in new ways.

  5. It is always good to assess how things are going during a workout program. These are all great tips!

  6. Love this and I agree - my favorite is when it's not fun anymore. I have had to do this many times with my running. I run for me and if it starts to feel like a job, it doesn't work! Great post.

  7. GREAT post! I think so many push through despite their bodies telling them they just need a little break. And it's amazing what a short break can do.

  8. I definitely take breaks. Usually due to boredom but sometimes due to injury.

  9. I almost always take a long break from training for races. Summers are full of light running, alternative forms of exercise and just not having anything on the agenda. Yes! Good tips!

  10. I take unscheduled breaks because I tend to fall off when life gets busy or I am just plain tired! I am trying to stay consistent with working out and just change the routine to keep from boredom. Good tips!

  11. such good advice, Elle! And it made me feel better about the week-long break I took this week. lol like you said, perhaps an excuse. Back at it tomorrow! :) cheers!

  12. GREAT POST!!!! I tend to train by feel so although I have been at it doing cardio & weights, I also change it up all the time in terms of what I do so... And with age, having to change things. :)

  13. I am taking an unplanned "time out" because I had my wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. Have to avoid excercise for a few days. The rest will do me good. Good idea for a post!


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