Rest days are an important part of maintaining a quality workout regime. While it might seem counterproductive this pause will allow your body to recover from the natural strain of working out.
Is rest really necessary?
Your body becomes fatigued if it’s not allowed to recover from high-intensity exercise. Never taking time to rest sets the body up for a breakdown by becoming more susceptible to severe muscle pain, a compromised immune system, unbalanced sleep patterns, a decrease in strength and an increased risk of injury.
Rest days are also mentally beneficial as a mandatory break will help you stay motivated to get back into your fitness schedule.
What’s the ideal amount of rest?
For beginners, or if you’re just starting out with a new fitness plan, two consecutive days of exercise followed by a rest day every third day is a good idea. If you’re extremely athletic and are at an expert-training level, take a rest day once a week. You can also include a lower grade workout every eight weeks to reduce excessive strain on your body.
We often don’t talk about why rest days are important and why your body (and mind) needs it. Here are a few reasons why rest is also important for your overall health.
Everyone’s body has its limit. Even if you don’t feel the need for some downtime immediately, your body needs a break. Resting is beneficial for injury reduction because it prevents overuse that stems from running, weight training and even walking. If you push your body too hard your muscles and joints suffer from overuse because your immune system can’t keep up with all the repairs your body needs. And that’s when injuries can happen.
Muscles Need Recovery Time
When you weight train, you’re essentially breaking down muscle fibers which cause microscopic tears. Rest days give your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild. Without proper time off to rest and for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to benefit from your training. This is also why you need to vary the muscle groups you work on by staggering your workout days.
Don’t Worry – You’re Fitness Level Won’t Drop
Taking a few days off from training won’t be a waste of all the hard work you’ve put in. It generally takes your body about two weeks of non-activity before you experience a drop in your performance level or start losing a noticeable amount of progress.
Over-Exertion Affects Sleep
Do you find yourself having restless nights? Over-training could be the cause. Too much exercise can put your body on high alert because of an elevated heart rate and increase in adrenaline. This can create a state of restlessness making a good night’s sleep difficult to achieve. Taking rest days can help bring down your heart rate, which will improve the quality of your sleep.
Psychologically speaking, taking time off to rest can reignite your drive to exercise. Mental fatigue has similar detrimental effects as physical fatigue. So taking a rest day will help recharge your mind as well as your body. This helps to prevent burnout over time. Don’t forget that any activity you do on your rest day should also help your mind take a break. Try to unwind with something like meditation, reading, listening to music or watching a movie.
It’s always important to remember that the key to good health and fitness is finding the right balance. Active recovery is greatly beneficial and should be incorporated into your workout routine. If your body’s time for recovery is limited all of your efforts will have detrimental effects in the long run. When you stick to a reasonable workout program with enough rest, you’ll be ready to get back to the gym after that much needed time off.