Why a rest day per week is important and how to enjoy it to the fullest?

How many days should I work out per week and how many rest days should I have? You might have already asked these questions. You are maybe also wondering why would you need a rest day? Let me tell you something, when it comes to exercising more is not always a good thing. 

For your fitness plan to be successful you need to take regular breaks so your body can recover. This applies weather you are an athlete, you are training for a marathon, or you just want to get in shape. Skipping resting days can result in getting injured or burnouts.

What is a rest day and how to make the most of it?

During a rest day, you should allow your body to recover. So, you should take a break from gym. There is no need to worry, you will not lose any fitness progress during this time. In general, it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level. So, don’t think that taking a day or two off from training will set you back all that hard work you’ve put in.

If you wonder what you should do during these days, here are just a few ideas:
  • Choose an active recovery session – like taking a walk, swimming or go for a yoga class. It will help your body and mind to relax.
  • Stretch – whether you do a few stretching exercises or you go for a foam rolling session, it will release any soreness, keep you flexible and it will improve your workouts. 
  • Just relax – when your body tells you to take a break, you should just drop everything and relax. This is when you “Netflix and chill”, spend time with family and friends, or spend time to self-care.

Benefits of resting days

1. Resting days prevent injuries

Resting is essential if you want to avoid injuring yourself during workouts. When your body is overworked, you’ll be more likely to fall out of form, drop a weight, or take a wrong step. You are also exposing your muscles to more stress which can then cause injuries and having to take more days off from gym.

2. Your muscles are built during resting days

Especially if you are doing strength training, you are tearing muscle fibres when you lift weights. Without a proper period of rest for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to get the benefit of your training. That’s why you need to vary the muscle groups you engage on staggered days.

3.  Rest days will keep you motivated

Aside from the fact that you can put an additional stress on your body through overtraining, it can also make lose focus. You might find your motivation level dropping and before you know it, your workouts have become less enjoyable.

If you overtrain to the point of breakdown, not only will you be physically unable to train for a while, but your mood and motivation will take a serious battering, too. Whilst it's great to be keen on going to the gym, sometimes, your eagerness may not end up in your favour, when it comes to training.

4.  The quality of your sleep will improve

Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making a good night’s sleep tough to achieve. Taking those rest days can help bring down your alertness and heart rate, which can help get you a night of sound sleep. Moreover, during sleep you muscle tissue are repaired and your hormone levels are balanced.

How many resting days should I have? 

Is one day enough, or should I take more days off? Well the answer is not that simple. It depends on your fitness level, the type of workouts you are carrying or what your body needs. It’s more about finding the right balance between training and rest days.

So, if you are beginner you can have between 2 to 3 rest days per week. Once your fitness level increases you can reduce to 1-2 days per week. I also recommend to use one of these rest days to do an active recovery session.
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