So you're a gym rat (or maybe you're not; that's okay too). You've been working out hard at the gym, getting in the best shape of your life! Good for you.
On one side, do you wonder about how many days you need to sacrifice to spend in the gym? How do you get results without missing all the fun activities? We get it; summer is approaching quickly and you want the best of both worlds.
On the other side of the spectrum, are you the type of person who gyms too frequently that you aren't recovering properly and your energy in dropping. (Although rare, you people do exist!) Not sure how many days off from the gym are necessary?
We'll help guide you through this process with some helpful tips for rest days so that when summer comes around, it's not just easier—it's more enjoyable!
How often should I take rest days in a week?
Rest days are important for recovery, but they're also essential for long-term health. Ideally, you should plan your rest days in advance of starting a new program or exercise regimen. If you don't take them seriously enough and end up overdoing it on your "off" days, then you'll likely end up running into issue with recovery, energy and even injuries. (Not fun)
Here's an example of how you can schedule your rest days if you're working out one to three days per week.
Here's an example with a more functional workout split:
So... Rest Days = 16hr Netflix binge?
Well, maybe not. Enjoy the down time, but find time for some active rest.
What is active rest?
Active rest is a term that refers to any light movement and exercise that allows you to recover from days of intense exercise. It includes restorative activities like:
While Passive rest is basically being inactive: just rest and relaxation. That includes:
What happens if I over-exercise?
If you're working out strenuously, and especially if you have been going to the gym for a while, it can be easy to think that over-exercising is not going to do much harm. But this is not true.
If you over-exercise (i.e., overdo it), then your body needs time off from exercise in order for muscles, joints, tendons and ligament to repair themselves properly so that they can continue working properly without getting injured or fatigued too quickly.
One thing we find ourselves saying all the time is;
"The fastest way to halt your progress is an injury."
By resting regularly, we allow our bodies’ systems to recover from any damage caused by previous bouts of excessive activity—and this includes things like soreness due from overexertion on certain days during which we should rest instead!
Can I keep lifting intensely week-upon-week?
If you're pushing weight with an intensity of 8/10 or more (almost hitting failure in the exercise), you may need to consider a Deload. This is simply one week in every 4-6 week period where you reduce the weight that you are training with as a means to drop the intensity and give your body a change to recover. Your tendons and ligaments (as well as muscles) will thank you for it.
While it is important to exercise, it is equally as important to take rest days. Rest days create an environment where your body can recover and prepare for the next day of workouts.
It allows time for muscles to repair any nicks or cuts they may have received during training sessions. They also allow nervous systems that were taxed by heavy activity to relax which may help prevent injury from occurring in the future when you do return back into your routine again on another day within your weekly schedule.