Once you get into the groove of a solid workout program, it can be difficult to take a day off. One common reason that individuals fail to take rest days is that they fear they will lose all the progress that they have made and that somehow the fitness level they’ve achieved will be diminished. Actually, the opposite is true. It can be detrimental for your body and overall fitness to fail to take regular rest days. There are several reasons why it is important for rest days to be part of your training routine.
Your Muscles Benefit When You Rest
Lifting weights in particular can create very small tears in muscles. These micro-tears only heal through one process: resting. When you take a day off from working out it allows the muscles to make the necessary repairs and then the muscles are stronger than before. It is just as important to give your muscles time to recover as it is to work them hard.
Overtraining can Result in Plateaus
It is a well established fact that working out frequently can help an individual lose weight. However, many people do not realize that working out too much can actually have a negative effect in your weight loss efforts. Your body has a special built-in protective instinct and when you over train, it kicks in and tries to preserve your energy. This can cause your weight loss efforts to plateau. In some cases, the body goes into survival mode and it can even cause you to gain weight back. Ensure that your body can adjust properly to the rigors of training by giving it regular rest days.
Exhaustion Sets In
One reason people love to workout is that great burst of energy that comes just after a good workout. However, more exercise does not guarantee more energy. For those who do too much, workouts can cause a serious energy crash later in the day. If you realize that after your workouts you crash and feel like you can barely move then you are likely doing way too much. When you are so sore you don’t want to carry out normal daily functions you have probably pushed it too far and need a day or two to rest and recover. Too much training has the adverse effect of sapping you of your strength and energy.
How many rest days do I need?
The number of rest days that are beneficial will depend on where you are in your training program as well as your fitness level. In most cases, you will need at least one rest day per week. For those who are just starting out you probably need to take a day every 3rd or 4th day to do absolutely nothing and let your body recover. For those who are used to working out daily one day a week may be sufficient. Another alternative is to rest different parts of the body on different days. For instance, you may work on cardio Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and do strength training on Tuesday and Thursday. By mixing up your workouts you are allowing different muscle groups the chance to rest in between workouts.
What can I do on a rest day?
Taking a rest day does not mean that you have to lie on the couch all day long and do nothing. Rest and recovery can take different forms for different people. Active athletes like runners just need to do something different on rest days to rest the muscles they use most. Walking or taking a nature hike is a great way to let the muscles recover. Some may even be able to swim or ride bikes on rest days. Simple stretching exercises like Yoga are great for helping to rebuild the muscles on days off. It’s just important to give the body a chance to rest and recover by offering it the opportunity to do lighter, simpler activities.