Rest is more than “OK”
When I was in high school I identified that working harder than my competitors could be the differentiator when it came to success. I carried this through to college and always thought that if I wanted to be better all I needed to do was to add more “hard work.”
My simple equation was the following:
Work = Success, and specifically HARD work. Longer workouts, more sweat, more soreness, more practices, more weight, more throws. MORE, MORE, MORE.
Athletes and high performers are often prone to making this mistake.
I was missing out on the total picture though. Work is certainly the part of the equation that gets all the glory. Work receives the instagram posts, the hashtags (#riseandgrind, #hardworkneverstops), the shares, the likes, and the feeling of accomplishment.
Like any equation there is another factor involved which cannot be over stressed.
Work + Rest = Success
Certainly we can find instances of people working 20 hour days and achieving financial success, or you have a friend that worked out 2x per day for 8 weeks and hit a physical milestone. Those are the outliers, and in most cases we know those people suffered physical or mental burnout due to the incredible stress that amount of work put on their body.
Rest is not glorified but is crucial to ones physical and professional success. Balancing periods of work with periods of rest is the entire equation and necessary for one to find sustained success.
In the world of strength and conditioning, we have known for years that the work an athlete puts in must be balanced with adequate rest. This is periodization or the theory of super compensation. Where one puts work or stress into the body, gives it time to recover and adapt, and then puts more stress on the body to achieve a desired result.
Rest can come in many forms though and each is valuable, here are a couple ways in which you can rest your way to success.
Balance your hard work and easy work.
I’ve personally identified, in my pursuit of old man weightlifting, that I can only train hard for 100 days (about 14 weeks), and I can do that 100 day sprint about 2x per year. The remainder of the year, I train as much as I want because I like it, and set my goal to just be consistent. During the sprint times I push hard, and focus on other elements of rest like sleep.
My friend Pat Rigsby actually uses this formulation of 100 day sprints 2x per year as a model in which he runs his business. He gets more done in 100 days of work because he knows at the end of that time, he gets to take a vacation.
Work hard, but make sure to balance that hard work with rest.
Sleeping maybe the most powerful thing we can do for our bodies, and some would say almost any amount of work can be recovered from if we get enough sleep. Several years ago a friend of mine at Stanford University ran a study on the Stanford basketball team He tested them all in speed, strength, and shooting while they were getting their normal amounts of sleep (about 8 hours). After the test he asked every player to get 10 hours of sleep each night. At the end of four weeks every athlete was faster, stronger and shot the ball better.
If you’re not already getting 8 hours of sleep, try, heck just try to get MORE sleep. If you have a hard time falling asleep, I could not recommend the new Thorne AM/PM multi-vitamin formula more. Its formulated to help individuals fall asleep faster through natural vitamins and minerals. Ask a Force coach for more info next time you are in.
Take an actual vacation
Before becoming the first man on earth to run a 4 minute mile, the late Sir Roger Bannister, stopped training several weeks prior to his historical attempt. He took a vacation to Scotland and hiked the mountains and camped with friends. He credits this time of decompression and rest as being one of the most crucial pieces of his quest to be the first man to run under 4 minutes.
While this isn’t a traditional model, and would freak me out to take a break right before the biggest event of my life, you cannot argue with the results
Take a mental break
While all of the above examples apply equally to your professional life, mental state, and physical pursuits, it is important to sometimes just take a mental break from your pursuits. During work days walks or 15 minute naps have been shown to be 5x more effective at coffee for productivity when returning from the break.
One of my lifters just had a big meet and while eager to get back on the platform and train some more, I required her to take two full weeks off of any sort of weightlifting activities. She ran, exercised, and strength trained, but wasn’t allowed to snatch or clean and jerk. As she has come back to normal training, she is refreshed and excited to get more accomplished.
The full equation is Work + Rest = Success, so do not forget the rest portion. If you find yourself in a situation where it all feels like work and your coach or boss is only trying to make you work harder without addressing rest then take a second look at what you are doing. Keep in mind that work still has to be done, and hard work at that, so just resting isn’t the answer. Find your balance to achieve success.