A few reasons why rest days are important to your overall fitness.
Although many may not realize it, rest days are critical when it comes to your overall fitness. Our bodies are amazing and can work hard when we want to. But it’s also imperative that we give our bodies rest as well. A lot happens when we take a day off of our hard workouts and give our bodies time to repair themselves.
Here’s why rest days are important.
Rest days allow your muscles time to repair.
Did you know that when you’re lifting weights, you’re actually tearing your muscle fibers? Giving your body proper nutrition (which includes plenty of protein) and allowing it to rest is the best way for you to build stronger muscles. If you work the same muscles multiple days in a row, you aren’t allowing them time to repair themselves and increase in size, and could be doing more harm than good. You also may not see the results you’d like because your muscles aren’t being given enough time to heal.
Rest days help you avoid burnout.
We’re putting in the necessary effort to see results but then it happens, we get burned out. Trust me, it happens to us all. But it happens more quickly if you aren’t allowing yourself days off. For me, I usually get tired of some part of my fitness routine when I’m working out too much. Giving your body a few days off will help you feel rejuvenated and ready to get back to work.
Also, I like variety in my exercise, so I try to change things up a bit and swap out moves or try a different style of working out. If you feel like you’re getting burned out, try changing things up a bit!
Rest days help to fully replenish your glycogen stores.
Our bodies use glycogen to fuel us during exercise. The longer you workout, the more depleted your glycogen levels are. Therefore, in order to rebuild, they need time. Which means rest. If you want to perform at your peak, allow yourself time to rest so those levels are properly restored.
Rest days reduce the risk for injuries.
If you work a muscle too often, it doesn’t get a chance to recover. This can lead to weak muscles and in turn potential injuries. Along with this, if you’re over-training certain muscles, your body will utilize other muscles to provide support to your skeletal system. You risk injuring these other areas because they are trying to provide support for those weaker areas that have been over-worked. No one wants an injury!
How often should you take a rest day?
How often you have days off from the gym depends on where you are in your physical fitness journey. If you’re beginning your fitness journey, a good rule of thumb is to rest every third day. If you’re a more experienced athlete, resting once a week is usually sufficient. But you should try to avoid working the same muscle group multiple days in a row.
What constitutes a rest day also varies depending on your activity level. If you’re doing high intensity interval training, or killing it in the gym, a full inactive rest day is more likely needed for your body to fully recover. If you’re workouts have been on the light to moderate side, an active rest day is sufficient. This could mean going for a long walk, doing some relaxing yoga or playing a sport.
Rest days are critical for our mental and physical performance. Allowing ourselves downtime can help fuel us to the next level of performance. Don’t be afraid to take a day off!