When it comes to creating a balanced fitness routine, whether you’re training for a distance race, enjoy heavy lifting at the gym or simply have a blast shaking your booty in a group exercise class, there’s one component of a quality fitness routine that you’ll find across the board: REST.
There’s no denying that rest days are an important part of a quality exercise routine and as someone who typically takes one or two full rest days a week, I can honestly say that once I began regularly incorporating rest days into my fitness regimen, I saw my workouts change for the better. I felt stronger on the days when I did work out and giving my muscles time to rest and recover from strenuous workouts absolutely had a positive impact on my body.
Today I’m teaming up with CopperJoint to share a few reasons why rest days are so important. (They’re also offering an awesome discount for PBF readers interested in compression gear at the end of this post!)
Importance of Rest Days
- Avoid Burnout
Oh burnout! If you’ve been working out for an extended period of time, you’ve undoubtedly experienced some degree of exercise burnout a time or two. It’s perfectly normal to crave some variety in your workouts and want to change things up at the gym but by incorporating adequate rest days into your routine, you’re more likely to feel excited to return to your workouts after a day or two off. Plus, you’ll likely return feeling stronger and rejuvenated, even after a short break of only 24 hours. (Note: There’s a difference between feeling uninspired at the gym and feeling worn out, beat down and fatigued. <- That could be a sign of overtraining!)
Sometimes I find that one or two days off a week is not enough for my body and I’ll take a few days off in a row. I always think about the way I feel after a long vacation that doesn’t include much exercise… I almost always return from vacation craving a workout! The time away seems to do wonders for increasing my workout motivation.
- Avoid the Negative Effects of Overtraining and Allow Muscles Time to Repair
When you rest, you give your body the chance to repair muscle tissue and replenish muscle glycogen (energy stores). Strength training creates tiny tears in the muscles that repair during rest and by allowing your body time to rest and recover, your muscles can recover and regenerate. Overtraining and not allowing your body sufficient rest can negatively effect the body because muscles need time to recover and repair damaged tissues after a tough workout.
Not only does overtraining increase the risk of injury, it can also negatively effect your immune system, sleep and hormone levels (and your menstrual cycle) and cause you to feel fatigued, irritable and depressed. Overtraining may lead to damage to the musculoskeletal system, as well as to clinical, functional, and biomechanical adaptations that may be detrimental to sport performance. (Source) No thanks!
When I was training clients, I cannot tell you how many people I saw whose fitness routine didn’t include even ONE rest day and had them working the same muscle group on back-to-back days. (This was quite common for people who did “total body workouts” multiple times a week.) A recovery period of 48-72 hours is typically recommended for proper recovery between strength training sessions.
- Focus On Recovery
Though I will often take one random rest day during the week, Sundays are almost always a rest day for me. (I think I’ve worked out on maybe two or three Sundays all year!) I love taking a rest day on a Sunday because it allows me to not only take a break from the gym but also focus on my recovery. By that I mean I try to “reset” myself and think about the past week’s workouts and health-related habits.
By thinking about what went well and what could’ve gone better, I reassess my habits and make positive goals for myself moving forward. This often includes increasing my water intake (always a battle for me!), focusing on additional stretching, compression, foam rolling and more.
When I first started training for half marathons after college, I read a lot about the benefits of compression for muscle recovery after long runs. I began wearing compression socks around the house (and even during runs sometimes) and compression gear is something I still incorporate into my workout recovery routine.
Compression can help relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness and reduce the time it takes for muscles to repair while returning oxygen to working muscles. Wearing calf sleeves and compression socks after plyometric or leg workouts that include a lot of calf raises definitely makes a difference in my post-workout soreness and I have been loving the CopperJoint sleeves the company kindly sent my way. (Some people love wearing them during a workout, but I typically prefer to wear them at home and slip them on after my post-workout shower.)
All CopperJoint sleeves are thin and lightweight (a nice change from some other compression gear I’ve tried!) and include 88 percent copper-infused nylon (the highest copper percentage in the market), making them extremely efficient in killing germs in the sleeves. The thin, moisture-wicking material offers a full range of motion and doesn’t limit joint motion.
CopperJoint Discount Offer
If you’re considering incorporating compression into your workout recovery, CopperJoint is offering the first 50 PBF readers 20% off their order with the code PBFINGERS20. Check out the offer here!
Question of the Day
- How often do you take a full day off from your workouts?
NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training
Musculoskeletal Adaptations and Injuries Due to Overtraining
Why Athletes Need Rest and Recovery
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by CopperJoint. Thank you so much for your continued support. I truly appreciate it very much!
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I agree rest days are so important. Like you, I usually take Sundays off. This Fall, I’ve been more flexible with my workout routine and have taken a day here and there in addition to Sundays and I’m running better than I have in the past two years!
I also like to foam roll and do some hip openers on rest days (and after hard workouts).
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
I learned this the hard way! I didnt rest enough and then ended up hurting my neck and back and couldnt workout for a month. Listening to our body is so important!
Finding a balance with your routine and schedule is so important for your mind and body. When I get into a good groove of working out, I hate rest days. But I know deep down how important they are for future workouts!
Sarah @ BucketListTummy says
During my marathon training cycle, I’ve really learned so much more about the benefits of complete rest (not just crosstraining) and sleep. Just like rest, sleep is when our brain cements our memories and clears the bad stuff out. I love compression socks after a long run, but I’ve never tried copperjoint!
exactly! when you enjoy being an active person, sometimes it’s hard to remember to give your body enough rest but it’s so, so beneficial, especially when you’re training for a distance race. and yes, compression socks are amazing! i fell in love with them when i was training for half marathons but have loved using them ever since.
I usually always take Sundays off too! (and someones a random day during the week)
Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed says
I honestly tend to take off almost every other day. I do CF and I’m usually pretty sore! I love taking my pups for a nice long walk for active recovery and take some time to stretch and foam roll.
yes! extra time for the pups is a definite plus of rest days! 🙂
Kelli @ Hungry Hobby says
Sundays are for long walks not for working out! I love compression socks, they totally help me from getting shin splints when I run!
Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona says
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in school so far is that if you want to reach your fitness goals, rest days are just as important as the days you workout. Working out too much can lead to over training like you mentioned as well as injuries.
Sarah Wyland says
On a standard week, I take a full day off, usually Tuesdays. I struggle with rest days. I KNOW the importance – I’m a certified professional, gosh darn it! – but I can’t help but think “but man, you didn’t do ANYTHING today…” even if I usually take a light walk with the dog or something.
I’ve got to learn to be more mindful and forgiving to myself on rest days. I powerlift 4x a week (2 lower body, 2 days upper – never same muscle groups!) and then I teach 3-4 barre classes a week and take at least that man. My body NEEDS the rest!
I loved this post! I used to workout 7 days a week & looking back, I realize how unhealthy that actually was. My body was over-worked & I was so fatigued. When I began incorporating rest days into my routine & adding variety to my fitness regimen I actually started running a good bit faster. Over the years I’ve gone from running a 10 minute mile to now running around an 8 ‘minute mile & I credit that improvement to more rest days & just being kinder to my body. With 2 babies at home now, I find it quite easy to take 1 (sometimes even 2 or 3) rest days. 🙂
I definitely am guilty of over-training. I even ended up with Adrenal Fatigue where I was tired and achy all of the time. How do you know how many rest days to take? 1 or 2? I love exercising but end up feeling exhausted sometimes. I don’t want to cut back too much. (It’s funny how much that makes me sound like a crazy person.) I know some people are trying to find motivation to exercise, where I have to figure out how to back off.
Kim from MN says
Ooooo I love that you must have taken a lot of these pics at the cabin you visited! Gorgeous pics! Love them!
And I agree, rest days are essential! I’ve never tried compression wear, though, I’m excited about the idea of a way to decrease soreness after working out, I’m gonna try it! (btw, because of you, we bought one of those massage sticks for post-workout soreness, and we love it! Besides that, I also bought this massager that looks like a huge question mark, and my husband was like, “pffft….that’s not gonna work…” Now he uses it alllllll the time after workouts! Ha!) Anyhow, thanks for the recommendation! Lovely pics!
Lindsey Cline says
I used to struggle with this and need to actively think about taking a day to rest…not anymore these days! Now I’m on the opposite end reminding myself the importance of setting a healthy example for my two girls!! Gah how life has changed!!
Rachel @ Health My Lifestyle says
I’m going to have to look into getting myself some compression socks! I just started getting back in to running and want to prevent injury as much as possible. Thanks for the advice!
Hi Julie, I’ve been a reader for just under a year now, and enjoy following along! Question – when you take rest days, do you usually do NOTHING or do you get in some gentle activity? I’m struggling to find a balance between lifting heavy weights and yoga (and the random cardio session thrown in there), so the timing of this post was a good reminder for me.
My rest days are usually complete rest, with the exception of maybe a walk with Sadie! 🙂
I take a rest day whenever I feel I need one! I’m glad you wrote a post about compression gear because I’ve always been a little in the dark about it. I’m still a bit unsure why or if a regular joe-shmoe needs to use them? Because I can’t imagine added compression being comfortable during or after a workout! Coming from someone who only wears compression socks on an airplane, I guess it’s just to try them out! But did you notice a big difference when incorporating them into regular use? 🙂
Christina @HealthReviewss says
These are some amazing reasons to take some rest from daily routine, it was a mindful reading and bundle of thanks for sharing with us.