The Importance Of a Guilt-Free Rest Day

woman jumping onto couch

The past few weeks, I have felt completely wrecked and have had some difficulty mustering up the motivation to give it my all in the workouts. I’m not sure if it was due to the evil wheel and front rack couplet we did last week, or if it’s because of the change in routine now that school and sports are back in session.

I am surrounded daily by highly motivated individuals who love to workout — clients, coworkers, and my husband. They are dedicated. They don’t miss a day, and some even workout multiple times a day.

I would be lying if I said that I am not envious of this passion, and I have found myself questioning whether I am doing enough to get the results I want. Is working out more the answer? Is moving like I have aged 20-years overnight worth it?

It’s great to stay motivated and consistent with your workouts, but some of us (including myself) often view rest days with guilt. We make fitness an “all-or-nothing” thing where we have to keep going, going, and going — or else we will lose our progress.

But the truth is that rest is an important part of the equation because our bodies need to recover from the strain we are putting on them. Additionally, rest days are good for our mental health.

How To Balance Rest and Fitness Goals

There is not an exact answer on how many times one should or should not be working out. It really comes down to personal goals, fitness level, and what you are looking to achieve. Everyone is different. In general, the loftier your goal, the more consistent you have to be.

How do you know if you are overtraining?

We all want to realize our potential and ensure we are doing everything we can to promote better health, which is why we establish a fitness routine. Just know that doing too much is just as harmful as doing too little.

Overtraining can lead to decreased performance, fatigue, poor sleeping patterns, increased risk of getting sick or injured, and burnout.

Recovery is just as important as your workout. In fact, this could be the reason your progress has slowed down. Your body needs time to repair tissues that have broken down and to restore glucose storage. Believe it or not, but the “rest period” is where you gain the results you worked for in the gym.

NASM-certified personal trainer Guychard Codio, cofounder of New York City Personal Training, compared not taking rest days to tanning post-sunburn.

“You can’t just go back out into the sun to get a better tan,” he said. “You have to let your body heal first.”

If you’re working out hard every single day, you won’t be able to physically give 100 percent because your body hasn’t healed.

Bottom line — listen to your body! If you find yourself with low energy and a terrible night sleeping, your body is screaming at you to take a rest day. So, take it! Don’t normalize the aches and pains. If you wake up and feel great, then get to the gym — but be smart about the workout you did the day before. Maybe de-load and use your body weight, rather than going for that PR. Lower volume does not always mean fewer results.

I encourage you to play around to figure out what works the best for you in finding that balance. For me, I will be focusing on hydration, getting my 7-8 hours of sleep each night, adding in 10 minutes of mobility each day, and embracing — without the guilt — a few rest days each week to allow my body to heal.

Recovery is part of your program, so start treating it as such!

Having Too Many Rest Days?

There’s also such thing as too many rest days — like if you’re never moving your body at all! If you need an expert coach and encouraging gym community in Sioux Falls to help get you off your rear, you’re in the right place. Learn more about membership at CPM!

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