“No days off,” I grumbled, my breath forming a tiny cloud against the cold winter air. The hangar we’d been using as a gym offered little reprieve from the desert’s early morning chill, but I knew it would just be a few hours before the bitter dark gave way to searing light, and my workspace would shift from icebox to easy bake oven. It was Christmas, but once the festivities had passed and the New Year came, there was still a fight to be won — and I still had weight to cut.

“No days off.” I grumbled again to the empty room.

We’ve all made our mistakes. Growing up as a skinny kid with a natural body type that’s more Jack Skellington than Dwayne Johnson led me to plenty — crappy supplements, silly workout regimens, crazy diets. If there was a way to break the genetic chains that hindered my progress, I was dead set on finding it. Of course, as the years pressed on, I came to learn that the fads and the powders all seemed to come and go, but the basics remained steadfast: eat well, work hard, and get some rest.

Rest. A dirty word among the uninitiated. When fitness is the goal, inaction seems like going the wrong way down a one way street. No days off, right?


The path to success in fitness tends to come in groups of threes. Want to be a well-rounded athlete? Focus on strength, endurance and flexibility. Want to get there as quickly as you can? Then focus on training, diet, and recuperation. The first two come as little surprise to the fitness oriented. Training, of course, is the means by which we grow in capability (and if it’s the intent, mass), and even the memes of the internet have caught up with the idea that real gains are made in the kitchen as much as they’re the result of time spent under the bar but rest remains the most ignored aspect of the overall endeavor. Like the nuclear triad, those three tenants of progress need to lean on one another for maximum effect. Without one leg of the triad, America’s nuclear arsenal could feasibly be neutered in a large scale attack, eliminating the “mutual” part of our assured destruction.

Remove training, diet, or rest from your own program, and your progress will be neutered as well.

Basically as bad as not getting enough rest. I may be stretching this simile as far as it’ll go.

Now that I’ve gone and compared getting a good night’s sleep to avoiding a nuclear holocaust (I attest that’s only a slight exaggeration), I assume I don’t need to wax on any further about how important rest is to your overall success — so let’s get down to just what it means to get the rest you need.