Why Rest Days Are an Important Part of Your Workout Routine

When you really get into the flow of a weekly workout routine, things like muscle gain, weight loss and healthy maintenance will be at the forefront of your mind. The last thing you’re probably thinking about when your smashing your workouts is taking an extended rest.

Many just treat rest time as an optional extra, and either don’t dedicate enough time to it, or skip it entirely. However, getting enough rest is a pivotal part of your workouts, and your body will suffer sooner or later if you neglect it.   

But what makes rest days so important? We’re here to tell you…

Fighting fatigue and preventing injury

It doesn’t matter whether you’re focusing on cardio or weight lifting, whenever you do any sort of high intensity workout, you end up creating microscopic tears in your muscles. The process of your body repairing these tears, enables it to adapt and become stronger and more resilient to training stimulus.

However, if you neglect your valuable rest days between your workouts, then those tiny micro-tears won’t get the chance to properly repair themselves. Before long they can turn into real injuries and hinder your workouts, or even stop you from working out altogether. The risk of developing a common sports injury, such as a rotator cuff impingement or the tearing of a tendon, increases exponentially.  

If you train too much with little to no rest in between you can actually develop a condition known as Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). This condition puts stress on your central nervous system, which saps away all that strength and conditioning you’ve been building. Even your immune system will suffer.

There’s a chance that you might not develop an injury, but your body will feel so fatigued and drained that skipping one or two rest days will soon turn into weeks, if not months of missed workouts, depending on how severely you’ve over-trained.

Keeping you fully motivated

As well as preventing injury, getting your rest days in will also boost your morale, keeping you motivated to continue your full workout routine. Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results from your training, and maintaining that high intensity in your workouts over time requires you to treat your body well – and that means resting it properly.

It’s all too easy to lose morale during your training, which then leads to feelings of frustration and despondence. Overtraining is the biggest factor that causes these feelings, because you just end up at a point where you start to despise your workout routine. By not giving your body enough time to recover, you’ll both physically and mentally burn yourself out.

Once your mood and motivation has broken down, any progress you hoped to make will feel like an impossible task. If you’re new to a workout routine, you might feel like going all guns blazing, but your eagerness may stop you in your tracks.

You need to progress in a steady and controlled way, which means taking your workouts one step at a time. Try working out 2 to 3 times a week to begin with and include rest days in between, as this will allow you to build up gradually and safely.

Building more muscle

Contrary to what some people may think, you actually build muscle while you’re resting, not while you’re working out. It’s your rest time and what you eat that really helps you to achieve the fitness results you want.

It may feel counterproductive not to be constantly working your muscles for them to grow, but your rest time will trigger the process where your muscle tissue breaks down in order to repair and grow back stronger. If you consume the right nutrients from post-workout foods, which should pack in plenty of protein, then you’ll soon see positive results.

Sufficient rest and nutrition for recovery to take place is essential for anyone looking to achieve their muscle gain goals. A major part of this is of course getting enough quality sleep, as deep sleep can trigger a spike in growth hormone.

If building muscle mass is your ultimate workout goal, then as well as getting your rest days in, work out different muscle groups on different days. This ensures that the muscles you previously worked get enough time to rest and repair.

How much rest should you get?

The amount of rest time required during a workout routine can of course vary depending on the individual, and the amount of training they’re doing. A good way of determining whether you need to rest is by paying attention to your body. If you feel tired, then it’s time for a rest.

Generally speaking, you should aim to take a rest day after every day of intense workout, along with plenty of sleep. Sticking to this routine will help you avoid accidentally overtraining your body.

Alternatively, for certain workouts where you’re targeting specific parts of your body, you could train up to five days in a row as long as you target a different part on each day. This allows for your weekends to be used as rest days for recovery.

If you do end up overtraining your body, then it’s important you allow yourself a week or two to fully recover, otherwise you’ll just make things worse. Similarly, if you develop an injury you need to avoid straining it further at all costs, which could mean taking a few weeks or months off from your workout routine.

Rest is really important to your workouts, and so is what you eat. Luckily, Prep Perfect can help you get the nutrients you need to achieve your fitness goals. We can deliver healthy prepared meals to your door, to fit exactly with your schedule.