The Many Reasons Why You Need Rest Days (And Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty!)

You know what they say! Sometimes less is more, and when it comes to working out, well… it definitely hits the nail in the head. Everyone needs balance, whether it’s work-life balance, or workout-life balance, it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes you need to take a break or your body will find a way to let you know you overworked yourself. But here’s one thing you should keep in mind when you feel like you need to rest: never feel guilty about taking a few days off. But as you probably already know there is a constant argument as to whether rest days are truly a necessity. So, let’s answer some common questions and spread the knowledge.

Why Do You Even Need Them?

When you are working those muscles out, you are also giving them small tears which can create inflammation. This inflammation kicks your body’s immune system into work and that’s what repairs the microscopic tears. Nowadays, people have an “all or nothing” mentality which can really hurt you if you make this your workout motto. “People don’t know how to exercise properly. If you follow what everyone else is doing or the latest fad program, more often than not it will do more harm than good,” claims Russell Wynter a NASM certified master trainer and co-owner of MadSweat. Giving your muscles time to repair themselves only leaves more room for growth. Meaning, more growth, bigger muscles, and faster results.

But How Often Should I Rest?

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The amount of rest you need is directly related to how much you work out every week. You should also keep your personal fitness goals in mind while creating your weekly routine and incorporating the rest days in it. Another interesting thing we need to define is what constituted a resting day for you. There are many athletes and Olympians that consider a light jog day as a rest day. Some practice yoga, while others go for a swim. This means that some athletes choose to completely ignore their normal workout routine for a full 24 hours but take a light cardio day instead.

Mental State & Routine State

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Your mental state says a lot about how many rest days are needed within your week. NASM certified trainer, Crystal Reeves, explains the importance of taking a break after performing an excessive amount of exercise. “When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects including decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.”

You Won’t Get There Any Faster

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Think about how working out makes you feel and take into consideration the length of your journey. While you may only want to take one rest day per week in the beginning, once you have reached your fitness goal you may be able to take more than a day off. But whatever you do, remember to always listen to your body. If you need to take 3 days off, then go for it! Keeping these states in mind will not only help you achieve your goals faster, but help you mentally stay on track.

The Push Through

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When you first begin your fitness journey, if you’re anything like the millions of out-of-shape people in this world, you’re going to feel really sore. If you’re experiencing excessive burn and you can barely move, don’t try to be a hero. Take a rest day and only do some stretching exercises or some light yoga. The soreness you are feeling are the tears in your muscles. These tears need time to heal so they can grow, so don’t feel guilty about adding in a few light cardio days in the beginning.

The Benefits

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Just because we use the word “rest”, does not mean you need to lay in bed all day long. Being active in general is great for your overall health and wellbeing. Even the slightest bit of muscle movement, especially when they are sore will create a rush of nutrients. Get those juices flowing, but always make sure to get a much-needed break. “The general rule is it requires a minimum of 48 hours to recover with full recovery seen within 72 to 96 hours post workout,” explains Wynter. We know it’s easy to get off track, as working out can be a drag. But consider taking a yoga class, or go for a ride on that bike that’s collecting rust in your garage. After all, the simplest things can get your blood flowing!