Why Is A Rest Day Important In Exercise? A Guide to Recovery
When your training is going well, and you are seeing all the improvements you dream of, it’s easy to skip rest days. However, without adequate rest, all the hard work you have put in can be lost.
Rest days are an important part of a good training plan. Whether you are running, bodybuilding, or lifting weights. Recovery is there to help your muscles, tendons, and body repair itself. Without adequate repair, the body breaks down, motivation drops, and ultimately your form and fitness start to decline.
However, many people think by adding more training sessions, volume, or intensity to their plan will continue to see them improve. Even though this is somewhat correct, if the body doesn’t get enough recovery these extra sessions will do you more harm than good.
In this article, we discuss why is a rest day important in exercise and the benefits it can provide you. We also explain the difference between a rest day vs a recovery day.
Luckily there are some signs you may need a rest day from running or exercise and if you don’t know these, keep reading.
What Is A Rest Day?
A rest day is a day in your training plan that involves no structured training. That means a day off from running or lifting weights. However, sometimes a rest day can include stretching, foam rolling, or massage.
A rest day is primarily there to allow the body to recover. That means resting the body, mind, and muscles.
Even though a rest day should involve next to no exercise, many people do light physical activity like walking or yoga. This helps to keep the muscles supple and helps remove any toxins from the body.
However, it is important not to get rests days mixed up with recovery days, as these two are completely different.
A rest day can be planned and incorporated into any day of the week. However, many people tend to take a rest day on Friday, as this is the end of the working week and allows you to be recovered for the weekend’s training, which is usually longer than during the week.
Rest Day VS Recovery Day – What’s The Difference?
If you are new to training, it is not uncommon for you to get confused between rest days and recovery days.
However, it should be self-explanatory. Recovery days are a day on which you reduce the volume and intensity of your workout. That means if you are running, keeping your training in zone 1 and weight lifting would mean reducing the weights or replacing heavy lifting with some bodyweight core exercises.
The purpose behind a recovery day is just that, recovery. It serves the same purpose as a rest day but allows you to keep the muscles functioning and keep blood flow moving throughout the muscles.
Recovery days are important for a variety of reasons. They can help speed up recovery, and also still allow you to build your aerobic base, or work on smaller muscle groups without adding more fatigue.
Does A Rest Day Mean No Exercise?
In short, a rest day means no structured exercise. A rest day should be spent relaxing or doing light exercise like walking or yoga or maintenance on the body ( stretching, massage, or foam rolling). By doing either of these on your rest day, it can help spend up recovery and improve mobility.
However, most coaches recommend at least one complete rest day a week. This helps to relieve stress from work, family, and training, which can prevent burnout. It can also help to quickly shed fatigue you have built up over a period of time.
Even though some weeks you may not feel the need to take a rest day, this helps to prevent long-term fatigue from building up.
Signs You Need A Rest Day From Running Or Exercise
Luckily, there are some signs you may need a rest day from exercise. This applies to nearly every form of exercise.
Some of these signs include:
– Resting heart rate is elevated
– Change in mood
– Sore muscles
– A drop in form
– Hit a plateau in your training
– Mentally drained
– Abnormal heart rate when training
All of the above is why a rest day is important in exercise, especially in endurance sports like running, cycling, and swimming. However, all these symptoms apply to all forms of exercise.
By incorporating a regular rest day into your training program, you can help to prevent the above from happening. It is also important during your recovery weeks that you incorporate two rest days into your training plan, as this can help shed any fatigue from the last block of training you did. This helps to build consistency in your training and allows you to start your next block of training in a somewhat recovered state.
If done right, the body should start feeling fatigued during the last week of each block. For many people, this is usually the third week of their training plan, if they are following a 4-week structure.
Are Rest Days Important For Weight Loss?
Even though most people don’t think about it much, rest days are important for weight loss. A rest day will allow your muscles to rebuild and grow.
Because muscles burn more energy than fat, resting them can help to increase the number of calories you burn at rest.
Rest days can also help keep you motivated, which leads to consistency. Weight loss requires consistent exercise, and without this, you are unlikely to see the results you want. Unless you are eating clean and reducing calorie intake.
While you may feel that doing no training one or two days a week will make you gain weight, this is usually not the case. However, many people do feel sluggish and heavier on their rest days, but gaining weight in the form of excess fat on these days is unlikely.
However, it is important to not overeat during these days and stick to your regular eating routine. You still need to fill your glycogen stores for the next training day. So, as long as you eat a clean diet, the rest day will not affect your weight.