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Exercising and staying active is one of the best habits to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. There are a lot of benefits of working out regularly. You feel energetic and motivated, your body composition improves, and you feel good about yourself. But did you know that taking rest days in between is as important as the training itself?

Yes, you heard us right.

Doing more always isn't the better option. No training program can succeed without having particular rest days. This is because your body needs a regular break from intense training to repair and recover.

Giving your body an appropriate time for recovery helps manage its workload and perform optimally.  

This article will discuss some of the significant benefits of having rest days in your workout regimen and how it can help you achieve your goals.

Benefits of Rest Days

Rest Days Equals to Muscle Growth

Why is Rest as Important as Your Workout 1

When you train hard or lift heavy in the gym, you develop microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. These tears are the reason why your legs feel stiff and hard after a heavy squat session. Your body needs time to repair these tears for your muscles to grow bigger and stronger. And this is the reason why you can lift the same weight in the next session with less effort. Your muscles need time to repair, rebuild and strengthen. Therefore, try adding light sessions after a heavy workout or alternate between high intensity and low-intensity exercises to manage your muscles workload.

Reduces the Chances of an Injury

Why is Rest as Important as Your Workout 2

If you push your body too hard and too often without a break, you're likely to end up with injuries and pain. Those microscopic tears after a workout can quickly turn into muscle sprains if not given the appropriate time to recover. Lack of proper rest can also lead to tendon injuries and inflammation. This is why bodybuilders often alternate the muscle groups they are training every day to ensure the recovery of a particular muscle group. Rest days are also crucial for your bone health too. Like muscles, they also need time to recover from the regular stress of working out to repair and strengthen. Therefore, take enough rest days in between to prevent any chance of getting injured.

It Keeps You Motivated

Why is Rest as Important as Your Workout 3

Most of you would be training because it's something you enjoy. You might not say that after a heavy legs session with your legs trembling, but you wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't fun and making you a better version of yourself, right?

If you don't take rest days, though, you can strip out the fun, making working out seem like a chore. As a result, you'll struggle to focus, take a dip in motivation and may lose your mojo altogether. And after a while, instead of feeling motivated to work out, you will start feeling burdened by it. Regular breaks help keep the fun alive and give you time to freshen up and return with the same enthusiasm.

Helps You Sleep Better

Why is Rest as Important as Your Workout 4

Sleep is essential to achieving your fitness goals. Although training regularly has been shown to improve your sleep, taking rest days are equally as important. Exercising increases the energy-boosting hormones in your body like cortisol and adrenaline. However, exercising rigorously without taking any breaks would cause these hormones to go crazy and affect your sleep cycle. Taking rest days in between can help these hormones return normalcy and help you get quality sleep.

How Many Rest Days Do You Need?

Why is Rest as Important as Your Workout 5

There is no magic formula for calculating the amount of rest days each individual requires because it is influenced by a variety of factors such as fitness, genetics, training intensity, and how stressful your daily life is.

Listen to your body and keep track of fatigue and soreness to figure out what's best for you.

Those who are new to exercise should take two or three rest days each week as a general guideline, while more experienced athletes and individuals may only need one.

What to do on a Rest Day?

Taking a rest day doesn't mean sitting all day on your couch and binging on Netflix. Although it does sound tempting, these are a few things you can do on your rest days to optimize it for your growth.

  • On active rest days, make the effort of including some light physical activity in your day. It can be as simple as taking a walk with your friends or a gentle swim or yoga. You could also try stretching and foam rolling to enhance flexibility.
  • On inactive rest days, give yourself a complete break from any kind of training and watch that movie in your playlist or catch up on dinner with your friends. Give your brain and body a healthy break by doing what you love the most and enjoy your day.
  • As far as your diet is concerned, it can stay the same if you want to gain weight or build muscles. Whereas, if you are on a fat loss journey, try to cut down on your calories as you will not be moving enough to burn those. Keep your macros in check and eat clean to support muscle growth and recovery.
  • The Bottom Line

    Make the term 'Rest Day' an integral part of your workout plan. Without getting proper rest, your body won't recover well, and achieving your fitness goals would be a far-fetched dream. So, treat your off days from training as a skill to be practiced as your workouts. And always remember that to achieve your goals, you need to train smarter, not harder.

    References

    Dabbs, N., Lundahl, J., & Garner, J. (2015). Effectiveness of Different Rest Intervals Following Whole-Body Vibration on Vertical Jump Performance between College Athletes and Recreationally Trained Females. Sports, 3(3), 258–268. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports3030258

    Grandou, C., Wallace, L., Coutts, A. J., Bell, L., & Impellizzeri, F. M. (2021). Symptoms of Overtraining in Resistance Exercise: International Cross-Sectional Survey. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 16(1), 80–89. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2019-0825

    DÁTTILO, M., ANTUNES, H. K. M., GALBES, N. M. N., MÔNICO-NETO, M., de SÁ SOUZA, H., dos SANTOS QUARESMA, M. V. L., LEE, K. S., UGRINOWITSCH, C., TUFIK, S., & de MELLO, M. T. (2019). Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Acute Skeletal Muscle Recovery after Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 52(2), 507–514. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000002137

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