Personally, I hate the idea of missing a day of training. I feel like every day that I skip or rest is a day that I am missing out on training and improving. However, the importance of rest days cannot be understated – this is something that every athlete must do to ensure that their bodies stay in peak physical condition and to have the opportunity to continue improving. In this post, I will explore the benefits of rest days and when you should take them.
Benefits of Rest Days
Here are some of the general physical and mental benefits of rest days. There are many more benefits of rest days that I did not list here, these are just the ones that come to mind and benefits that I get when I decide to take rest days.
Recovery & Muscle Growth
As expected, taking a rest day gives you time to recover. It allows the micro-tears in your muscles to fully recover, allowing your muscles to rebuild themselves even stronger. Muscle soreness and fatigue will be given time to heal, and you will feel much more fresh and fully rested, even if you felt that you weren’t even tired before.
Injury Prevention and Treatment
If you are overworking yourself, you will have a much higher chance of hurting yourself. Because your body will feel fatigue, you may not be able to do the things you expect yourself to do, and end up pulling a muscle or hurting yourself in another way.
Additionally, if you already injured, these rest days give you the chance to fully nurse your injury back to full health, without any chances of reinjury.
Improves Future Performance
Coming off rest days or weeks, you will feel new motivation and energy to do the same routines you were doing before. Sometimes, you just needed this short break to give yourself a new jolt of energy to get back into the grind and keep working. Additionally, because you are finally well-rested and your muscles had time to recover, you may find yourself even stronger than you were before the break.
Gives you Time to do Something Else
Many athletes find themselves spending 24/7 on their sport – train, review, rest, and repeat. Taking a week or so off gives you the opportunity to do the things you were putting off, or just find something new to distract you for a good refresher. Take these rest days and do something you wouldn’t normally do – you will see that on returning, you actually might even love your sport even more!
When you know you need a Rest Day
Personally, I take rest weeks every 2 – 3 months if I have no competitions, and take complete rest days once a week where I do no physical activity, and let my body recover. For my rest weeks, I generally do light cross-training (jogging, bodyweight exercises) rather than sitting around doing nothing, but I will do nothing even close to the intensity of my normal training. Here are a few ways to know when you might need a rest day!
Your Body is Exhausted
Some days, you may find it hard to walk around or even get up out of your bed purely due to muscle soreness or general body fatigue. Take a rest! These days, going to training might even be detrimental and have a risk of injury. You need to know when your body can still handle the training, and when your body needs a rest.
Your Mind is Exhausted
Other days, you mind find yourself lacking motivation to leave your house to get to the gym or training center. You may find yourself thinking about doing other things, or complaining about having to go to training. Take a rest! On these days, your mind is telling you that you need a break from this rinse and repeat training, and you need a mix of something else. Find new things to try and use these days as refreshers, so that when you get back to your routine, you will have new energy.
Your Coach will Tell You
The best coaches can tell when their students need a physical or mental break. Find a coach that you can trust and that you know will do whatever is in their power to help you. When you are exhausted, your coaches will suggest you to take a break or work on some lighter activities rather than continuing with regular, torturous exercises.
Don’t forget to take rest days. I extremely dislike the idea of having to rest from training, but I know the importance of rest days and all the physical and mental benefits that it can give me. I hope that this post gave you an idea of how it could help you too, and convinces you to integrate rest days or even weeks into your regular scheduled training as well. Thanks for reading and hope to see you guys in the next post!