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Kickoff's certified personal trainers and registered dietitians share detailed analysis, discussion, and how-tos about the questions we get most often

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Why Rest Days Are Essential for Any Workout Program

Taking a muscle recovery and rest day helps to keep your body strong on the days you jump back in. But we are a society that likes to go, go, go, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to find time to rest and relax. We feel as though without movement, we aren’t progressing. But if you’re someone that likes to push it every day, it’s time to take a step back.

Mike Tromello, Crossfit Coach and author says, “The body repairs and strengthens in the time between workouts. Continuous training can weaken the strongest athletes. Recovery days are the only way possible to restore muscle tissue breakdown to make you stronger. It is okay to take two days off. It is okay to only workout one day and need a rest day the next. You should never be in perpetual soreness. Listening to your body is crucial.” 

What Happens When You Rest

What happens when you work out? Lifting weights causes tiny micro tears in your muscle tissues. Don’t fret, these tears are a good thing! When your body works to repair the tears, it creates bigger and stronger muscle fibers. This means the next time you workout, you’ll be able to handle more. 

Inflammation increases around your muscle fibers as they work to repair themselves, placing stress on the nervous system. On workout rest days, your stress levels decrease, muscle strength increases, and your energy is refueled. 

Preventing Injury and Overtraining

Did you know that when your muscles are pushed you can cause strain, stress fractures, joint pain, and other muscle injuries?

If you’re pushing yourself to the limit every day, you’ll also soon be lifting less and feeling tired sooner. You’ll most likely lose focus and concentration and promote injury.

When you take a rest day, your muscles are given time to rebuild themselves and repair muscle tissue. Your muscle tissue cannot be repaired if your body doesn’t rest. Meaning that when you go to workout the next time, your muscles are already in a fatigued state.

Overtraining is a serious issue in competitive athletes. They want to be better, feel better, perform better, so they push harder, faster, longer. Without workout recovery, muscle glycogen is depleted, and muscle tissues are broken down. 

Your energy levels are just like the levels in a car. They need to be replenished and refueled in order to get them back and running at full again. If your meter isn’t full, you’ll run out of glycogen quicker, and your muscle tissues will remain in a broken-down state.

Your mind may not be ready to quit, and this is where the problem comes in. Your body is telling you it’s done, but your mind disagrees. You push yourself to finish your workout, and pay for it later (with injury, soreness, or fatigue).

Overtraining can also lead to overeating. When you train daily, your body needs more food for fuel. You’ll likely end up eating more than you need, which could halt or reverse the progress you’ve made.

Building a Rest Day into Your Workout Program

Building a rest day into your workout program will help you take planned days. If you experience guilt because you think you should be active, having a planned day helps with this. 

What are you doing for muscle recovery and rest today? 

To get a personalized workout plan and train with Kari Siegenthaler, NASM C.P.T., visit here.