Should you take rest days from your workouts? The answer is yes. Many people think that in order to see results from exercising they need to exercise every day. This is so not true. Many people also underestimate the importance of rest days. Rest days should always be a part of your fitness regimen. Just like we have training days to work the muscles, we also need rest days where they can recuperate. There are so many benefits of rest days as well as consequences and harm for skipping rest days.
When we exercise, regardless it be weight training, cardio, HIIT, or Pilates, we are putting our muscles and joints under stress. Microscopic tears develop in our muscles from this stress, and it’s crucial that we give our muscles, nerves, and connective tissue time to rebuild and regenerate. Below are some steps we can take to aid in our bodies’ recovery, as well as advantages of rest days and what happens when rest days are neglected.
HOW MANY REST DAYS DO I NEED PER WEEK?
The number of rest days you need to take each week really depends on you and your body. This number will vary from person to person because we have different bodies with different needs and capabilities. In order to determine how many rest days you should take, generally fitness professionals recommend at least 1-2 days per week dedicated to rest. This is equivalent to resting every 3 days after working out for 2 consecutive days. You can also determine your amount of rest days by how your body feels from your workouts. If a muscle group is still sore after 2 days, you should wait another day or so to train it again. It’s very important that we listen to our bodies. They are a good indictor on determining many things such as the number of rest days, how much water you should drink each day, how often and how much you need to eat, and how much sleep you need per night.
The more actively advanced you are, one of these rest days can be used as an “active rest day”. An “active rest day” is still a rest day it just involves light exercise where the trained body part is not used. An example of this would be cycling after arm day or going for a steady-pace walk outside after leg day.
It’s important to note to be careful when participating in active rest days. Make sure you listen to your body.
HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!
Replenishing our bodies with water after exercise and on our rest days is crucial. When we exercise, we perspire and if we don’t replenish the fluid that we lost, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue, soreness, headaches, and overheating. When we are dehydrated, our exercise performance decreases, and we are not exercising properly or effectively.
(Making sure you consume enough water for your body is important. If you’re having trouble logging your water intake or increasing your water intake, there are many cell phone apps that help. Most cell phones have a health section with apps already installed. Check your phone today or download an app.)
CATCH YOUR ZZZ’s
Nowadays most people juggle the responsibilities of life and live life in the fast lane. With the long hours at the office, housework and chores at night, and family and functions on the weekends, it’s often we overlook how many hours of sleep we get each night. Most adults need to log anywhere between 6-9 hours of sleep per night, but this number varies from person to person.
Although sleep is beneficial to our overall health, REM sleep is the most important stage in our sleep cycle. During this stage, our growth hormone is at its highest aiding in muscle repair and recovery. When we lack sleep, our growth hormone is out of whack, and our efforts in exercise are compromised. This leads to you not seeing results from your efforts. Simply increasing the number of hours you sleep per night can increase your energy levels, increase mood, improve muscle recovery, and improve physical fitness performance.
ADVANTAGES OF REST DAYS
Rest days are so beneficial to our bodies and our minds. It gives our bodies time to rebuild and repair our muscle tissue, connective tissue and nerves. It also increases our muscle gains, muscle strength, and muscle definition. It also improves our performance for our next workout, and our performance in day-to-day activities. Rest days also offer our minds a chance to unwind and regroup. When we are tired and fatigued and rest days are neglected, our perception and perspective to our surrounds and interactions are warped. It’s important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN REST DAYS ARE NEGLECTED?
When we neglect to take rest days, we do more harm to our bodies than we realize. Exercising every day to see results is unrealistic, and ends up backfiring on our efforts. When we neglect to take a rest day, the following can occur:
- Decrease in performance
- Loss of appetite
- Poor sleeping patterns
- Mood swings
- Altered hormonal states/imbalances
- Reproductive disorders
All of these consequences of avoiding rest day can lead to more serious health issues and even injury. Please be careful when working out and never work out for more than 2 consecutive days.
Remember to take listen to your body and to take time for yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to have a rest day, and there’s no right or wrong amount of rest days to take either. Just do you!
Article: “Rest & Overtraining: What Does This Mean To Bodybuilders?”
Author: Jeff Behar
Article: “Why Rest Days are Just as Important as Working Out”
Author: Katie Rosenbrock
Article: “Do I Need a Break Day When Exercising?”
Author: Amy Colgan-Niemeyer
Published by Rebecca Salvas