When you get in the groove a new workout routine, skipping rest days can feel like the right thing to do. If you struggle with motivation and fear a day off can throw you off track, it can even feel necessary to work out every day. Though it is true that moving your body every day is a great idea for your overall health and mental well-being, it is important to ensure you give your body adequate time to rest and recover after strenuous workouts.
Rest days are beneficial for more than just giving your muscles some time to relax. They may also help you to stay on track and not feel mentally and physically burnt out. If you struggle with taking rest days, you are not alone. Professional athletes and amateur fitness enthusiasts all experience a desire to keep the momentum going from time to time. From injury prevention to overall well-being, rest days matter. In this article, we will answer some of the most common questions about rest days and give you the confidence to take them as often as they are needed.
How Important Are Rest Days?
If you are new to your fitness journey or are heavily into a workout routine you might be thinking to yourself, are rest days important? A simple answer to this question is, yes! What a rest day looks like will mean different things to different people but taking time to allow your body to rest will aid you in achieving your fitness goals.
The reasons why rest days are important are that they simply allow your body to rest. It gives your body time to recover from the strenuous activities you participate in, which in turn allows your muscles to rebuild and be ready for your next workout. Rest days can also be good for your mental well-being. Sometimes when we focus too much on being active, we over-train and in turn become burnt out. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, taking rest days can help you stay on track with your workouts and allow you to build a habit of regular activity for the long term.
How Many Rest Days Do You Need?
If you are wondering how many rest days between workouts you should take, the answer might be more often than you would think. Most athletes and fitness enthusiasts should consider taking a rest day every three to five days of consecutive workouts. It is important to note that there is no set rule when it comes to how many rest days you should take. If you are feeling overly sore, that you could be injured, or even just emotionally tired, you might want to take a rest day even if you have not worked out much in the days before.
There is nothing wrong with taking rest days as you see fit, but at a minimum, you should consider taking a rest day every five days. You might wish to consider scheduling your rest days on a weekend and making this a part of your routine. Scheduling both your workouts and rest-days can help keep your motivation on track and allow you to feel good about slowing down and taking a break, even if you feel like you do not “need” it.
Do Professional Athletes Take Rest Days?
Professional athletes do take rest days! Though they may not come as often or look the same as an average person’s rest day, they understand that rest is important. Most professional athletes work with trainers who closely monitor their workouts to ensure that they are not over-training and increasing their risk of injury. If you have major fitness or athletic goals, you may find it beneficial to work with a personal trainer. An expert personal trainer can assist you in fine-tuning your workout routine to ensure you are taking adequate rest days while also ensuring that your workouts are highly effective and meaningful.
Do You Need a Rest Day from Cardio?
Sometimes cardio workouts do not feel as strenuous on the body as other forms of workouts such as weightlifting or strength training. Even if you do not feel tired from your cardio workouts or feel as if you are “fine” you should consider taking a rest day anyway. There is no need to do cardio workouts every day, you may even find that adding in strength training workouts will boost your fitness. If you enjoy running, cycling or other cardio, you can consider taking rest days every three to five days just as you would with other forms of exercise. Cardio can be strenuous, and your muscles still need time to recover from this activity.
Do Rest Days Help Build Muscle?
If you are worried that taking a rest day will negatively impact your training, think again. Taking rest days may help you to build muscle by allowing your muscles to recover from the strength training your body has done in the days before. Ensuring that you get adequate sleep will also help your body to repair your muscles which in turn, makes them stronger. You should try to approach your workout routine with a mindset that rest is essential. Both through rest days and adequate sleep, ensuring you rest your body will help you to build muscle in a healthy way.
What Can I Do on My Rest Day?
If you are the type of person who enjoys working out you may struggle with deciding, should I take a rest day from working out? Rest days are highly beneficial to your overall well-being as well as your ability to recover from strenuous activities. But taking a rest day does not mean that you simply sit on the couch and do nothing for the day. There are lots of ways that you may choose to move your body while still ensuring you rest.
Here are some ideas of what you could do to keep moving, while also resting your body. Always listen to your body and do not over-train. It can be easy to overdo it on your rest days. Try to make movement the priority but not necessarily focus the activity being a “workout.”
Go for a walk – going for a light walk is a great way to stay moving while still resting from strenuous workouts. Consider doing a light walk and do not overdo it. Enjoy being outside and reap the benefits of movement for the sake of movement, not to reach fitness goals.
Stretch – stretching is a great activity to do on your rest days. Take some time to focus on stretching out your sore muscles. Not only will this feel good, but it will also aid you in injury prevention. It may be a good idea to do a slight warm-up, such as going for a walk, to get your muscles ready for a stretch.
Do Light Yoga – anyone who’s done yoga knows it’s not a walk in the park and is actually quite physical! Though yoga can be a workout, some poses may feel more restorative and allow you to move your body while still prioritizing rest. Consider yoga on your rest days, it is a great way to stretch and unwind.
Do something fun – another great thing to do on your rest day is to simply do something fun. Participate in a group activity or go somewhere fun like a trampoline park. Fitness is about more than simply working out. Though working out is often enjoyable, it is important to move your body in ways that bring you happiness. Find what this means to you and incorporate fun movement into your rest days.
Balance Your Workout Routine
When it comes to building a workout routine whether it be an at-home workout routine or one supervised by a trainer, it is important to ensure that your workouts are balanced. Balancing your workouts means that you will include high-intensity, lower-intensity, and rest days as part of your fitness routine. You should not be working out as hard as possible every day of the week without rest.
If you have difficulty achieving balance in your workout routine, it may be a good idea to consider joining a group fitness class. Though group fitness classes are often great workouts, they also are varied and will not be the same workout every day of the week. Trying out something new like boxing classes or kickboxing classes can be a great way to vary up your routine.
Always remember that resting your body is about listening to your body. If something hurts, don’t do it. If you do not feel well, take a break. There is no shame in slowing it down or taking a rest day when you need to. Consider taking a rest day every 3-5 days of working out and always work towards balance in all things fitness-related. Your body will thank you for taking the time to let it heal and rest and will be ready to show up strong for you at your next workout.