When you get motivated and into the routine of regular exercise, it is sometimes hard to wrap your head around the idea of taking time off. With fears of slipping back to a sedentary lifestyle and losing your progress and gains, most gym-goers would rather stick to a strict gym regimen.
In all actuality, getting enough rest after exercise is essential to your performance. Instead of feeling guilty for taking the day off, know that rest is necessary for muscles to repair, rebuild and strengthen.
New to Exercise
If you are new to the gym the first exercises that you will perform will be relatively easy for your body to get accustomed to. Your body is adapting to strength training and will handle it well, with a little bit of muscle soreness. In this case, rest days will help you maintain a balance between work, home and your fitness goals. Instead of a daunting, time-consuming task, being in the gym will fit into your schedule.
More Advanced Exercisers
As you progress in your strength training, you’ve found balance to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Rest days for you are about allowing your body to take the adequate time it needs to recover. When you strength train you are tearing muscle fibre and to get the most out of your training, you need to allow your immune system to repair the muscle. This is another reason to rotate the muscle groups you train on any given day. Don’t worry about regression from one or two rest days. Usually, it takes your body almost two full weeks of inactivity before you start losing performance level or progress.
Allowing yourself a rest day will reduce chances of injury because you’ll be less likely to overtrain. Overuse can be due to any activity, including strength training, running, and even walking. The repetitive strain on muscles and joints are what can cause injury.
If you are having a really hard time with a full day off, incorporate active rest into your routine. Some dynamic stretching or light yoga to improve flexibility and circulation can be valuable. This is not the time to raise your heart rate; keep your activities low-impact with only a slight exertion.
Count those sheep and get your shuteye. In general, sleep is important to your well-being, but a solid pattern of sleep will also help you perform your best on your most active days.
Just as you schedule your workouts, plan out and schedule your rest days. Depending on your training frequency and load, allow one or two days a week where you limit your activity and allow your body to repair and recover.
With rest days come the repair process that makes your muscles stronger than before. Take your day off to plan your next workout, and to be grateful for your body, dedication and how far you’ve come.