Why are Rest Days Important?
Taking a rest day gives your body a much-needed chance to recover.
When you work out, your body breaks down. It sounds like a bad thing, but it’s a normal reaction to training. If you keep working out at high intensities without taking time to recover, your body will continue to break down. Eventually, you will end up overtrained.
The time in between each of your workouts is recovery time. So by taking a rest day, your body can spend some quality time building itself back up. Without that recovery time, your body never builds itself back up. Instead, it keeps breaking down due to training stress and puts you on the path to overtraining or injury.
Overtraining doesn’t just affect your body. Signs of overtraining can also come in the form of fogginess, frustration, and crankiness. So rest days are also important because they give your mind a break, as well.
When Should You Take a Rest Day?
While the exact rest day cadence that works best varies from person to person, there are some common patterns. Many athletes use the “three days on, one day off” ratio where you work out for three days and then take the fourth day as a rest day.
For others, especially if you thrive on consistency, it may work better to have a repeatable weekly workout routine. Each week, you work out on certain days and take specific days off. For example, your rest days each week might be on Wednesday and Sunday.
Many athletes try to maintain working out for five weekdays, taking the weekends off. Given the intensity of your workouts, this schedule becomes challenging to maintain long-term. You might be able to make it through a few weeks, but the physical and mental strain will soon lead to fatigue, soreness, and decreases in performance.
The best way to figure out when you should take a rest day is to pay attention to your body. If you have a hard time keeping track of your workout and rest days, start a training log. Tracking your training can help you find patterns in how you feel and adjust accordingly.
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