Why Are Rest Days So Important?
Hi team! Hope you guys have been enjoying the month of June. If you’re in Dubai like me, I know you’re having a HOT summer so far. Always remember to keep drinking lots of water, wear sunscreen, and a hat if you’re spending time under the sun! Now that my “mom moment” is over. Let’s get to today’s topic! Rest days. If you'd like to listen to this instead of reading about it, hop over to the podcast. It's amazing the things you can get done when your mind is distracted learning something new!
Building Muscle Needs Rest Days
We used to think “take a rest day” was more a suggestion than a necessity, but here’s why we need it to see progress: It’s been said that NOT taking rest days can actually HALT and HINDER your progress! Let’s put it this way: Your muscles are going through physical stress when you train, right? What happens when you’re going through stress at work or life in general, and you don’t take time off? You burn out!
Your muscles are no different. If you keep pushing yourself without taking some time off to rest, your body won’t have time to recover and it will eventually burn out.
When Does Muscle Growth Happen?
You’ll be surprised to know that your muscle growth and gains don’t happen DURING your workout. When you train, your muscle tissues are actually tearing (really tiny, microscopic tears). When you rest, you allow little cells to repair, heal, and grow those tissues. That’s where the magic happens!
Why You Shouldn’t Train Every Day
Training everyday could lead to:
- Poor recovery
- Poor sleep
- Increased hunger and cravings
- Decreased libido
- Lack of motivation and drive
- Low energy levels
How Rest Days Help
If you follow a proper nutrition and exercise program, you’re lifting weights adequately, adding weight to your training each week, eating enough protein, carbs and fats, focusing more on sleeping and stressing less, you will be amazed at the results you will get!
Resting replenishes your body’s glycogen stores. Because you’re using up a majority of glycogen for energy during exercise, that needs to be restored before the next session. To be able to do that, you need to give your body a break!
What Happens During A Rest Day
A cool thing your body does during rest is regulate the production of hormones. When you workout, your body starts producing things like cortisol and adrenaline. But too much of these hormones will keep you on edge and that’s when your sleep gets affected and you’ll reach exhaustion pretty fast.
The Right Number Of Rest Days
Listen to your body, and take science into account, which tells us that 2 to 3 days of rest per week is a good, healthy amount. Does this mean you have to sit on the couch and surf the internet for 2 whole days?
No way! Not if you don’t feel like you need that. This brings us to something called Active Rest Days.
What Are Active Rest Days?
It sounds like a contradiction but you can be active on a rest day! It’s always a good idea to move your body and keep blood flowing, just make sure some days are a lot less intense than others.
For example, if you’re on a strength training mission and it’s been 3 days since you took a break from lifting weights, use day 4 as an active rest day. Do a yoga routine, go for a light swim, or 30 minute walk around the block, or aim for 8,000 to 10,000 steps. If you feel you want to put on a hip hop music video and attempt to follow the choreography, by all means, go for it!
Get some oxygen into your lungs, do some easy stretches, and you’ll be bursting with energy, ready for a high intense workout the next day, trust me.
Ideas For An Active Rest Day
Here are some things you can do to ensure a balanced week of both heavy and light exercise:
- Schedule in rest days at least 2 times a week, especially if you’re just starting to work out. Your sore muscles NEED that time to recover and do their best in the next training session.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! Your journey is unique to you and you alone.
- Find a workout program that keeps you progressing while reminding you to take breaks!
- Plan your active rest days if movement brings you happiness. Schedule a walk with a friend, go for a swim in the ocean, dance with your kids, or find a yoga video on good old YouTube.
Let Me Know How You Rest!
I’d love to know how some of you spend your rest days, so comment below! It doesn’t have to be doing something active at all! It can be reading, Netflix, or binge watching YouTube videos (been there, done that!)