A question I get asked ALL the time by challengers and other people I talk to is, “Should I take a rest day?” I used to ask the same question too, so I thought I’d share a little insight on the matter.
Is a Rest Day Essential?
So to answer the question in one word – YES!!! Yes, you need a rest day for a couple of very important reasons.
Muscle only grows during rest.
Activity, or workouts, actually serve to breakdown or tear the muscle fiber, and regrowth only happens when you body is at rest. We need to incorporate adequate rest into the plan to give our muscles time to rebuild.
Constant work can lead to overtraining and injury.
If you focus on constant activity and only schedule hard training days into your regimen, it’s likely that over time you’ll encounter burnout and even injury related to overtraining. It’s important to give our bodies (and our brains) some time to rest to increase the longevity of our efforts.
How Do I Know When to Rest?
Knowing when to rest is just as important as knowing why you need it. Honestly, though, this has always been the hardest part for me. I thought giving myself a rest day was taking a step back and allowing myself to “go easy,” and while it is that, it’s also important otherwise, you may experience some of the following:
- Feeling sore all the time.
- Being tired or irritable more often than not.
- Having stiff muscles and joints.
- Experiencing an abnormal heart rate.
- Having dark urine.
How Do I Incorporate a Rest Day?
So this was another tricky one for me…Again, I honestly equated a rest day with being lazy. (Ah! Get rid of that mentality RIGHT now!!!) So now I just plan it into my regular routine. I have a rest day each week and that is what works for me! On Sunday, I take the day off from a “formal” workout and usually do some light yoga or go for a walk/hike with my family.
Alternatively you may want to follow a consistent program for an extended period, i.e. – 21 or 30 days. If that’s the case, then my suggestion is to take a break of 3-5 days at the end of the program and focus on more yoga or stretching for those few days before restarting a new program.
The key here is to listen to your body, to recognize that you need rest – physically AND mentally, and to give your body (and your soul) what it needs!
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