All about Active Rest

  • I've seen a lot of folks talking about finishing a challenge, feeling great about themselves and being ready to start their next challenge RIGHT AWAY.

    I want to pass along a blog written by Mike Harris.  A lot of us had never heard about Active Rest until we read this.  See what you think.


    Getting the Most out of Your Time Between Transformation Challenges
    by: Michael Harris  3/18/2007

    Are you planning another challenge after finishing the one you’re in now? If so, the material that follows should be of some interest and some help to you. It seems like roughly one-half of those who start and complete a 12 week transformation challenge are planning on going into another one in order to get into the shape that they want.

    The first thing I want to ask you–actually I’m begging you–is to NOT GO IMMEDIATELY from one challenge right into the next one without a break. Here’s why. Whether you really feel like it or not, a transformation challenge takes a toll on you. The early rising, strenuous exercising and relatively strict dieting are good for you–but over 12 weeks time they can also wear you out. You deserve AND NEED a week or more of rest before you get back into the gym. Think about this: If you go right from one challenge to another, what you’re really doing is taking a 24 week challenge. That’s nearly 6 months, and it’s longer than most should be doing. Most second and subsequent challenges that occur without a break between tend to be very unproductive and unhappy experiences. They also tend to be more often plagued by injuries, illnesses and overtraining effects.

    My favorite fitness author, Albuquerque attorney Clarence Bass, coined the phrase “active rest.” That’s what you need to do between challenges. What you need to do, for at least one week and preferably two, is to stay clear out of the gym and away from the weight lifting routine entirely. And don’t worry about losing muscle mass, you won’t. The phenomenon called muscle memory will put you right back into the groove very quickly once you are rested. In fact, you might actually pick up some muscle mass due to the well-deserved rest. Your joints will thank you for it too.

    Instead of lifting weights, do one or two of your favorite non-resistance training types of exercises. I do lots of calisthenics such as pushups, pullups, and squat jumps. I also do some bike riding or stair climbing. I take very long walks with my dog. Others enjoy things like swimming, mountain climbing, hiking, or even chopping wood and heavy gardening activity. This gets you out of the old groove, works different areas of your body, and still gives you plenty of fat-burning and fitness forming activity.

    As for the diet, stick with the six meals a day. But, add in a bit of red meat if you are inclined, and experiment with some non-typical foods. This might be a good time to try a little of that natural peanut butter you’ve been craving. I eat a fair amount of non-tropical fruits and berries as carb portions during my rest periods. And I eat some lean red meat which has lots of creatine in it. Don’t make your two weeks off a two week free day or you’ll regret it.

    Consider your two weeks active rest a working vacation. You’ll be amazed at your renewed strength, your enthusiastic outlook, and your youthful appearance following your time off. If you don’t do it, you’ll feel like you’re dragging a 100 pound anchor around with you for the next twelve weeks. Which one sounds like the best bet to you?

    10's in exercise and nutrition = 10's in life

  • It's funny...I don't know how I feel about active rest.  I'm not opposed to it, but am also not opposed to going from 1 contest to another. 

    ... I just like seeing something from Mike Harris. 

    Jessica Mighty Max ~ 2013 Body-for-LIFE Champion ~ Champion is a VERB!

  • Actually he maybe right! But depends on the person.

    I actually have to lose 150 pounds so I will not stop the diet after the 12 weeks but he maybe right about weight training for a week or so, because you might want to high up the weights a little in the second 3 months. So taking 1 week vacation is not so bad as long you don't put on weight.    

  • Never stop the diet

    “"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out..." - Robert J. Collier”

  • I took two weeks of active rest after my first challenge. I continued to eat 100% clean but only did light cardio. I lost another 5 pounds during this time. I posted a short article about my active rest. If you are interested you can find it here:


  • Alexana I know from experience that during active rest is when you learn the most about the very behaviors that got you were you are in the first place.  It took me 3 challenges to lose 125lbs and then another 3 challenges 8 years later to lose 30 more pounds and more importantly to learn to deal with the emotional reasons I became obese in the first place.  

    Challenges are structured and disciplined and most do well with that.  It's when the reigns of discipline are removed and you are left to your own de"vices" so to speak that you really understand what you have to do to make lasting changes.

    Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right ~ Henry Ford

    Michelle Simpson ~2009 Body-for-LIFE Champion 46+ Catagory

  • I agree champster....i am now left to my own de"vices" I am in my first week of active rest having finished my first challenge. I stuck with the eating and workouts for 12 weeks (i wasnt perfect in either but i did very well) but this week I've found myself having to many free meals. Havent gained any weight but feeling like there are some issues I need to address. Also I am having a hard time with active rest....I want to work, work, workout!!!! But I know my poor body needs a break and its telling me so. Took at nap yesterday.....I NEVER take naps, if I do Im half asleep....but I fell into a deep sleep yesterday IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!!!!! I came back to the board and reread Mike's active rest post to remind myself of what I should be doing. Thankful for this board and all the support!!!!!

  • I am midway my first challenge and am planning on going for another.

    I agree with the active rest, since i am sore all the time :))

    But seriously, i feel it would be a good time to look back and see what i can do to make my second challenge better, less stressful, and even more integrated into my life. Also for me it will be a personal test on my food mentality which is a hurdle for me.

    What got me on board in the first place was the idea of a beginning, middle and end. So i think its a good think to keep it like that, even if its only 1 week rest you choose to do.

    my 2cents :)