The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Sunday, January 19, 2003  

Overdoing It?

Surely you’ve heard this before: A pound of muscle burns a lot more calories, even at rest, than a pound of fat.

My experience backs that up. Until I began exercising consistently and keeping it up over the course of several months, I couldn’t successfully lose AND maintain my weight loss. I had to build muscle.

Along the way, I learned something that seemed counter-intuitive, but is nevertheless true: the fastest way to build muscle is to get plenty of rest between workouts.

Like most people who struggle with obesity, I’m an obsessive character. I can easily overdo exercise. In my fear of regaining the weight I’ve lost (as I have done so many times before), I schedule several workouts per week. Some days I work out twice.

But I know that if I don’t allow for at least two days in the week of pure rest, I actually lose strength, muscle mass, sleep, and my performance suffers.

I found this out by accident. A few months back, I had been swimming hard for weeks, timing my sprints, and working hard on my form. Instead of gaining speed, I was losing it, and becoming more and more frustrated.

I developed a case of swimmers’ ear, which put me out of the pool for almost a week. When I returned to the pool, I saw a substantial drop in my sprint times. A friend and former swim coach explained the role that rest had played in this. I had a hard time believing it, but since then have seen the same kind of big jump in performance after a couple days of rest in other workouts.

This is the reason marathon runners never run the day before a race. Why athletes try to get a good rest in before championship games.

Crazy, yes?

So, take it easy at least a couple of days this week, and next, ‘kay?


Harvard Medical School on the Importance of Rest
How Rest Aids Fitness
Overtraining Syndrome Explained Briefly

posted by Julie |
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