I post a lot of fitness related content on the blog, but I don’t think we have ever stopped to really talk about the days in between training and workouts.
(Past our weekend whereabouts and travels, of course.)
I’m talking about rest days! Please, please tell me you incorporate rest days into your weekly training plan on a consistent basis. They are so important!
5 Reasons You Need Rest Days
Planned, unplanned, excused, unexcused, it doesn’t matter… your body and your mind need rest days. Point and blank.
Whether it’s one, two, or more, it is extremely important to include days to rest into any type of training plan. Whenever I create a workout schedule for a client, I ask them what is realistic to commit to and will most likely give them 4-6 workouts a week at the very most. One rest day is built in on a weekly basis, and the other is for when life happens. You know, those unexpected things that come up, or even dinners or events that pop up and onto your schedule.
It all happens, and you can’t get hard on yourself about “skipping” a workout. Here are plenty of reasons that might make you feel better about taking that day off!
• Your muscles need time to recover in order to build
Rest is essential for muscle growth. If you are constantly training them, your muscles will never rest. This is why a lot of people prefer to schedule specific muscle groups to train each week like leg day, arm day, core, etc.
Personally, I prefer to do total body strength workouts that include all of these muscle groups 2-3 times a week, and pair it with cardio 3 times a week. That’s just me!
A common mistake newer fitness junkies make is to jump into a high level of training too quickly, and most likely too often. They love the rush and post-workout or post-runner’s high, and can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, some take this as a pass to skip their rest days, and doing so can cause a series of both mental and physical problems.
Do you think you are being healthy by training more than a recommended amount? Overtraining can lead to a decrease in your immunity, hormones, circulation, and even reproductivity! Beyond the medical issues, you can also increase your irritability, anxiousness, and chances of injury. None of that sounds like a good time!
• Without rest days (or even weeks!), you’ll eventually get burnt out
I like to look at comparing your perfect workout formula to an overall healthy and balanced diet. Generally speaking, I eat pretty clean. Yes, I have days where I eat pizza, drink wine, and eat an embarrassing amount of desserts, but that doesn’t happen every day, and it’s almost always in moderation. I say almost because… well, Thanksgiving. Holidays, weekends, and celebrations are my healthy eating rest days.
The same goes for working out! Whether your goal is to get fit, stay healthy, or even lose weight, there are going to be days where you need a break. Some will be scheduled into your calendar and some won’t. Eventually, you will learn to accept and appreciate every rest day that comes up!
It’s normal to feel like you need a break from a solid workout every once in a while. Sometimes this can happen for an entire week or even longer! While the idea of taking that much time off from structured exercise can be scary, injuries and burn outs are bound to happen. You can avoid more of them by making sure you are getting in your rest days!
• You have to listen to your body
Like I briefly mentioned above, and just like I do in any type of workout post, you absolutely have to listen to what your body is telling you. Some people can go to the gym six days a week while others feel overworked with anything after three. Some people can lift heavy while others do better sticking to lighter free weights.
Some of the workouts I post on the blog won’t be the best types of exercises for every single person reading this. That is exactly why I am adamant about including a disclaimer every time!
Listen to your body. If you feel like you can’t do the suggested 12 reps, do 8 or 10. If you feel maxed out at two rounds through a circuit, skip the third.
While there is a difference between laziness and physical ability, nobody is going to think anything less of you if you have to take a step back from anything you’re doing. If you think you can get through an entire workout given to you, and aren’t in pain, do it. If you feel like your muscles are at their max or start to feel dizzy, absolutely take the rest.
• At least one full day of rest a week is crucial
Think about what you can do with a couple of hours or even an entire day off: catch up on sleep, do a couple loads of laundry, relax, catch up with friends, etc. The same goes for working out!
While I enjoy completing long runs on the weekends, I make sure to at least save at least one of those days to dedicate towards resting and stretching. Instead of worrying about getting to a spin class or something every single day, make a pledge to spend that time resting.
Use the day to give your body some extra love with a long stretch or a massage. Recharge your batteries with sleep. Do whatever you need to do to unwind and get ready for another week of work!
As much as you may hate it, rest is not a bad word or habit! It’s good for you to take at least one complete day off from working out per week. And while we are on the subject, remember to take vacations, sleep in without an alarm every once in a while, and get outdoors!
You can still stay active and burn calories (if that is what you’re worried about) without being in a gym. Go for bike ride, walk on the beach, or even just enjoy a day of shopping with friends. Your body will truly thank you!
Questions of the Afternoon
• How often do you get in a rest day?
• Should you be incorporating more into your schedule?