Importance of Rest Days

Importance of Rest Days

It is a gym junkie’s least favorite day; rest day. The day where you let your body fully recover from the grueling workouts that you frequently put it through. Although you might feel separation anxiety from the gym just remember that rest days are important and must be taken. By straining your body everyday you put yourself at the risk of harming your physique instead of improving it. Here are some negative effects of skipping rest day, when to know it is time to rest, and what to do on rest day:



When working out you are tearing the muscle fibers in your body. As a response your body will build those fibers back up to be stronger when you are no longer straining your muscles. It is when you are resting this process called protein synthesis takes place. So yes in a way you are getting stronger by keeping out of the gym. Working intensively without allowing your body to recover will lead to overtraining which is when a person puts more physical stress on their body than they can handle. This leads to a decline in performance despite the high intensity and frequency of the person’s workout. The way I see it, overtraining is like when a runner tries to run a marathon by sprinting the whole time. Sure they will get ahead in the beginning but pretty soon they will tire out and will not finish the race. That is how you should see your workouts, as you want to live a healthy and active lifestyle into the future as opposed to only for two weeks. A person may be lead to overtrain by things such as fearing that a rest day will put them behind. Especially with high-level athletes, the thought of not trying to improve yourself on any particular day may be daunting. Sometimes it is not always the effort that you put in that will get you ahead, train smarter instead of harder and you will avoid overtraining. Obsessing over getting results will also lead to overtraining. You and everyone else are in the gym for the same reason: to see results. Albeit results are desired in different forms, people still want to see some sort of improvement in their physique and performance. When you become obsessed with achieving these results in an unhealthy way, it can lead to overtraining and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. It is important to remember that results will come with time if you train, eat, and rest properly to allow these results to come. Do not let your short-term desires ruin your long-term plan. Good things come to those who are patient. Some signs of overtraining include:

-Trouble sleeping at night

-You feel terribly after a workout when you would normally feel good

-Lowered immune system (you get sick more often, and it takes longer to get over your illness)

-Lack motivation, miserable mood

-Short temper

-Plateauing or even regressing in strength and athleticism

-Higher or lower than usual resting heart rate

-Unquenchable thirst


Know the Difference between Soreness and Injury

Rest days are key if you are feeling the signs of early injury. The difference between soreness and injury is that soreness is felt in your muscles. With injury you will experience soreness in your joints such as in your elbows, knees, or wrists. If you are feeling this kind of injury it is important to rest until it feels better and to see a doctor if it does not. You can try to reduce your range of motion so that absolutely no discomfort is felt. Trying to train through this can lead to a full injury. So in that scenario take your pick: a couple days out of the gym now, or four to six weeks of doing nothing later. 


When to take a rest day

Beginners should be eased into their workout regiments, thus going 2 days on and one day off is more than enough. However an experienced lifter can take less rest days per week than that, but should take at least one rest day per week. Rest days should be put into your workout schedule typically on days that you are extremely busy and stressed that you won’t have much motivation to workout. Ensure you are not only resting on these days if they do not come at least once a week.


Exercise permitted on rest day

What you can do on your rest day is dictated by what kind of exercise you have been doing as of late. If you have been doing heavy lifting then your body is in need of more recovery. Thus if you are going to be active in any sort of way limit your activity to a walk or a light bike ride. If you have been doing light lifting then you will be able to have a little more of an active rest day that will still allow your body to recover. Since your body is not too beat up at this time it will not need as much time to recover. Thus playing sports, or going for a light jog are permitted on your rest day. Ensure you are not exerting yourself too much as you want to be fresh for your workout the next day!


When it comes to taking a rest day it is important to look at the big picture. Although it may seem counterproductive to stop working out for a day it is a necessity to do so. If you are struggling to comprehend the importance of rest think of it as taking a tiny step back right now so that you can make huge steps in the future. This will help to ease your restlessness about not hitting your goals because you are not training for a day. Remember to listen to your body and never lie to yourself when it comes to how you are feeling. You are in the gym to improve your physique not damage it. Train hard, train smart!