The Importance of Rest: Your Greatest Off-Season (Part 1)

In our last article, “A Simple Formula for Your Greatest Off-Season Yet”, we discussed how your off-season can be a critical component to the success of next year’s game.

In that article we discussed the 4 stages of the off-season that the best golfers in the world abide by, which are:

Rest –> Recuperate –> Rebuild –> Refocus

Even if you are not a top level golfer, these same principles can apply to your off season.

Each one of these steps is just as important as the other one, and if one of them is skipped or not given enough attention, the whole thing can be thrown out of whack.

For today’s article, we are going to focus on the first phase, REST (this could also be named RECOVERY), and how this is quite often the most easily forgotten phase, which is a huge mistake!  One of the big misconceptions that people make in this phase is thinking that to “rest” means to shut it all down, eat like crap, and simply negate everything physical and activity related.

Taking this approach moves you in the wrong direction.  The rest phase should be a rebuilding, not destructing phase.

In my opinion, REST can be an incredible tool to help propel you forward by leaps and bounds in your off-season (and through out the regular season).  But instead of just boring you with reasons WHY you should rest, at the end of this article, I am going to give you a few tricks to make your rest more effective.

But First, The “WHY”

As the simplest answer, your body has been beaten up over the course of the season.  After swinging so many times in the same direction, playing in different tournaments or recreational games, and probably making some less than desirable eating and drinking choices; it’s time to shutdown and RESET the system. The body is ready for a fresh start and can use a bit of a break.  Plus a little time off to heal any lingering aches and pains is never a bad thing.

Depending on the intensity level of this past season, there can be different levels of this phase.  If you are a touring pro and have been on the road, playing 5-6 days a week, I say take 1-2 weeks off.   Stay out of the gym, don’t touch your clubs, and let your body chill out.  Go have some fun hanging out with your family, enjoy the holidays, go on vacation, or whatever.

Of course this doesn’t mean you can go on a drinking and eating bender with the boys for 2 weeks, but when you’ve been working that hard and beating up your body for that long, take some time off both physically and mentally; and enjoy yourself and the accomplishments that you had last year.

If you are not a tour player, but played a ton of golf and the body is a little banged up, my advice is the same regarding staying away from the clubs.  Put them away for a while.  This will be good for your body, but also to build up that desire to get them out again when the sun starts shining again.  As for completely shutting it down, it’s not quite as important as with the tour player since you most likely have not traveled and put in as many hours in the gym and on the course.  But a short break from all of it can still be a good thing for you.

“Rest” Doesn’t Equal “Laziness”

In today’s world, if you are not going at 100mph, in every direction and for every task that you have on your plate, it can often seem like you are falling behind or “slacking” in some way.  This seems to be the norm for just about everything we do these days; our fitness level, business tasks, studying, sports (and it’s getting worse in kids sports), etc.

Our world, especially here in the United States is so fast paced and “dog eat dog,” that taking a little time off is often seen as slacking or laziness, which is unfortunate.  It is this mentality that makes us think that taking any time off from the gym and practice will immediately put us behind our competitors.  This is simply not the case.

Your rest is just as important as the work you put in.  In fact, when you are resting is actually when you are getting better! During your workouts, and throughout your season, you are actually breaking your body down. It is when you are resting that the body and mind are able to recover and replenish.  This is true not only in the off-season, but in your day-to-day and week-to-week training.

The following tips are helpful pretty much any time, but when you are in this “rest” phase, these will accelerate the benefits and get you ready to move toward your “Recuperation” phase.

5 “Hacks” to Make your Rest More Effective

1.) Get 8 hours of sleep

  • As I mentioned, when you rest, your body recovers.   Nothing is more effective for true rest than sleep.  Lots of sleep.  It is during your sleep that the body produces growth hormone, our muscles recover from the stresses we’ve put on them, our brains engrain what we’ve learned that day, and we simply restore our energy to perform again the next day. Eight hours may sound like a lot right now, but you will notice a huge difference, especially if you don’t come close to this right now.

2.) Don’t eat within 2 hours of going to bed

  • When we sleep, our body produces HGH, or Human Growth Hormone. (yes, our body actually makes this stuff, it’s not just found in needles and injected illegally into athletes).  But when we eat too close to the time we go to bed, it reduces the amount of HGH produced when we sleep.  Due to the food intake, our bodies priorities are on the digestion of the food, and less on our recovery.

3.) Drink lemon water, especially right when you wake up

  • Think of this as a bath for your insides.  Especially your liver.  Our liver is pretty much like a screen or filter for our body.  Everything that goes in has to, in some way, be absorbed and processed by our liver or discarded as garbage that our body gets rid of.  Lemon water, although acidic outside the body, is alkalinic inside the body, which helps to cleanse the liver and keep it functioning at a higher level.  If it’s not working well, it can’t absorb the good stuff and may not be able to properly rid the body of the bad stuff.

4.) Get a good pillow

  • No matter how much sleep you get, if your neck hurts when you wake up, that’s not productive.  The objective during this phase is to recover from ailments, not cause them.  Get a good pillow with some support that keeps your neck and head in a neutral position.  This  will help prevent poor positioning of the vertebrae and thus possible neck/shoulder issues.

5.) No technology before bed

  • 30 minutes or so before you go to bed, get rid of the TV, phone, iPad, computer etc.  All of these are stimulants that affect you’re ability to get the right kind of sleep.  Even if you tend to fall asleep very quickly (which is often a sign that you are overtired), these stimuli can make it more difficult for you to reach the deeper stages of sleep.  Without the proper kind of sleep, the body can’t efficiently do its job of repairing itself.

6.) Start your nutrition plan

  • Don’t wait till January to start your nutrition resolutions.  Nothing repairs the body like what you put in it.  If you are doing everything else right, but you’re still eating crap, you’re missing the boat.  The body repairs from the inside out, so be aware of what you’re eating and drinking.  Don’t know what to eat, don’t over complicate it:
    • Whole, unprocessed foods
    • Very little carbs and sugars
    • Lots of veggies
    • Lean protein with every meal and snack
    • Even more veggies

On to the Next Phase

Hopefully you’ve got a little better handle on the importance of giving your body a break from the typical grind of workouts, smashing balls on the range, and playing several times a week.  On top of that, you now have a few tricks up your sleeve to make this time a little more effective.

Remember, the “hacks” at the end of this article are not exclusive to your rest phase.  I would try implementing these into your regular routine.  Given the hectic lives we live, being able to maximize the little bit of down time that you have just might give you the extra edge you need.

In the next article, we’ll dive into the “Recuperation” phase where you start to get back into the gym a bit to work out the kinks before jumping into the weights.

Thanks for reading!  If you have any other “rest hacks that have worked for you, let us all know in the comments below.

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