There are a lot of articles about the importance of working out and structuring your exercise sessions, however we tend to forget how important rest days are too for our progress.
When I first started getting into fitness I took no rest days and guess what happened? I was always tired and got ill a lot more than usual. I literally got tonsillitis once a month during this period. Why? Because I wasn’t giving my body the chance to recover from the stress of exercise so I was running on empty.
The urge to workout more is natural as we want to see results quicker. However, not resting can actually slow down your progress significantly. When the body is stressed from exercising all of the time you are more prone to getting injuries such as muscle strains and joint pain but also your immune system is more likely to take a hit as well.
Think about it this way – if you are constantly breaking down muscle from weightlifting every day, you are not letting it build itself back up again, so all of those muscle ‘gains’ you think you are growing actually isn’t happening at all. Your immune system repairs and grows your muscles after exercise, but if you aren’t giving your body a chance to do so then you are doing more harm than good.
Your sleep may also be affected if you don’t let your body rest as it will be in a constant state of high alert and ‘ready to go’ so drifting off to a peaceful sleep proves more challenging.
Signs of overtraining include:
So how many rest days should I be taking? Ultimately this answer will be a very individual thing and there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. You will need to take into account your current fitness level, the intensity of which you exercise and if you feel any of the signs over over-training. For me I find that two rest days works well for me, possible three if I am particularly tired or feeling run down. You need to try it out and find what works best for you. This article on Fitness Blender gives you more information.
Do you take enough rest days? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!