Why Rest Days Are Just As Important As Your Workouts

Advertiser Disclosure

Unbiased Content. Factual Advice.
 
In order to provide top tier advice from industry professionals - for free - we partner with sponsors. This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links.
 
We want you to know this does not impact the quality of our content as writers are not influenced by this process. Links are added after the article is finalized. By doing this, we strive to bring you the most straightforward, factual advice to help you through your 20s. Learn more about our content process here.

Skip to Actionable Steps

Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Strength and power are gained when the body is at rest. After putting the body under high amounts of stress by lifting weights, pounding the pavement, or cranking out burpees, optimal progress is made during the body’s recovery time. Many avid exercisers think of recovery days as being lazy or having to be completely still. While stillness can definitely be beneficial at times, ACE Fitness defines a rest day as “any non-training day—a day where you remove the challenge of hard exercise.”

Why do I need rest days?

Recovering from a workout is just as important as the workout itself for a variety of reasons. The physical stress of exercise breaks down the muscle fibers (think microtears); it depletes crucial nutrients that are needed to help repair those worked muscles; and it stresses the central nervous system, which is what controls the most basic bodily processes. The recovery period starts the moment the workout ends, but a full, quality rest day allows the body time to:

  • Refuel and properly restore energy sources in the muscles to prepare for your next hard work out.
  • Repair the torn muscle fibers which help them to grow stronger.
  • Rehydrate and restore lost electrolytes.
  • Get better sleep by preventing overtraining. Deep sleep produces growth hormones that help the body heal and repair itself.
  • Remove toxins and byproducts that cause soreness in the muscles.
  • Increase blood circulation throughout the body to deliver the necessary nutrients for muscle tissues to recover.
  • Experience self-care and stillness that improves emotional and physical health.

What happens if I don’t rest?

Without rest days, your body may experience signs of overtraining and ultimately make you feel burnt out.

Your muscles may not see the gains you think they should if you don’t give them enough time to recover.

If you experience any of the signs or symptoms below, you most likely need a couple of rest days:

  • Frequent injuries
  • Muscle pain or soreness that lasts several days
  • Trouble sleeping even though you feel exhausted
  • Poor immunity causing frequent illness
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Low motivation and productivity
  • Mental fatigue and trouble concentrating
  • Inability to manage or handle stress
  • Decreased desire to do things you enjoy including your workout

How often do I need to rest?

Listen to your body and decide when you need to take a rest day based on exercise type and intensity, age, and training experience. The greater the intensity or higher impact of the exercise, typically the more rest the body needs. Understand your exercise threshold as to not push yourself so hard that you’re left crawling on the floor for the next five days. A proper workout usually needs 1-2 days of recovery with at least one rest day before working the same muscle group(s) again. If you’re still sore after two days, you may want to rethink your workout and/or recovery plan.

Read more about the importance of rest days below and get started with planning your recovery with the actionable steps.




Don’t Miss Out!

Enter to win a free
virtual coaching session

Don’t Miss Out!

Win a free 1:1 coaching session

Actionable Steps


1

Read the longer version

To learn more, read these articles reviewed by our professionals: 8 Reasons to Take a Rest Day by ACE Fitness, Rest Days: Benefits and Why Skipping Could Sabotage Your Fitness Goals by the certified trainers at Woman’s Health, Exercise and Rest: How Much Rest You Really Need by ACE Fitness, and Why Rest Days Are Just as Important as Working Out by The Active Times.

2

Plan your rest days

Depending on the demands of your work, social, and exercise routines, you might do better with scheduled rest days. If you’re more of a recreational exerciser, you might be able to go with the flow and take rest days when your body tells you. You do you!

3

Recognize the signs of overtraining

and make sure you listen to any signs that come up. Adjust your rest days accordingly. Everyone’s body reacts to stress differently, so individualize your training plan.

4

Keep it simple

You can do low-impact movements like light stretching, gentle yoga, or go for a casual walk. Foster your mental health by letting your mind relax for the day. Give those deep muscle tissues a little extra TLC. Learn more about how to have a quality rest day with these tips by ACE Fitness.

5

Refuel and rehydrate

Continue eating well-balanced meals with quality protein and replenish lost fluids throughout the day.

6

Be productive

Got some extra time during your rest day? Spend that quality time with friends or family, learn a new hobby or skill, catch up on a great book, or do some light house chores. Read more on how to be productive here.

Coaches For All Your Self-Improvement Needs!

About the Author


shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching


favouriteLoadingAdd to Favorites

ASK THE EXPERTS

Getting a Job
No data
Brent is a former Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. During his 5+ years there, he worked ...

ASK THE EXPERTS

Connect2Self

Sue Wang

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

How to Store Seasonal Food Long-Term

Trying to save money by buying in bulk and storing food? Use these tips on how to store food long-term to save money and eat well.

Hey there! Let’s get started.

Sign up with email
Have an account? Log in
By signing up, I agree to this platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Hey there! Join for free.

Access 1,000+ resources to change your life today. Sign up with email
Have an account? Log in
Are you a coach? Click here
By signing up, I agree to this platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Sign in with email

All sign in options

Welcome Back

Sign in with email
Don’t have an account? Sign up
By signing in, I agree to this platform’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Win a FREE Coaching Session

Achieve success like member Michael M - our coaches helped him to increase his salary by $60,000! Enter to win a free session with a self-improvement coach on our Sweepstakes page today.