Whether you’re a serious athlete or someone who works out to maintain your overall health, it is important to incorporate rest days into your routine. Creating a good balance of workout days and rest days can be a key component to increasing your performance and avoiding injuries.
It Can Be Hard to Take it Easy
Many athletes and exercise enthusiasts work out daily simply because they enjoy the mechanics of their chosen activities. If you are one of these people, taking a day off may not seem like an appealing idea. However, when you run, lift weights, spar and exert yourself in other ways, you incur minute damage to muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, and bones. This is usually not problematic because when these tissues are repaired, that area of the body will become stronger and more resilient. Yet without rest periods, this can not sufficiently happen and can lead to injury.
Rest the Way You Train
Just as you use intervals between lifting sets and cross training complexes, so too should you design your impactful workout days around rest days. The intervals during a weight lifting set are rest periods so that you can overcome the stress of whatever exercise you are doing in order to repeat it. This is why a workout segment requiring 40 barbell curls is broken into four sets of 10 rather than 40 straight reps. It is not recommended to do all 40 reps without rest as this can lead to overexertion and the tearing of a muscle or tendon. A rest day is just like a rest interval between sets in your workout.
Most professional trainers and serious athletes recommend one day between intense workouts such as weight lifting — putting you on a rotation of four days a week of exercise and three days a week of rest or vice-versa.
Quality is the Top Priority
The type of rest you allow yourself is also an important factor. A rest day shouldn’t mean that you allow yourself to be totally immobile. Your day off should include generous amounts of water to accelerate muscle recovery and decrease cramping and soreness, and plenty of movement. A rest day should mean that you stay active with things like a leisurely walk through the park and maybe a light jog rather than remaining inactive all day. It is also important that you maintain a healthy diet on your rest days that is consistent with the quality of your workout day diet, only consumed in smaller portions.
Giving yourself a rest between heavy workouts allows you to recover from the micro damage caused by intense training. In the long run, this practice will make you stronger while saving you from over training and athletic burnout.