You’ve been told that it’s important to take a rest day, but there’s a lot more to taking a day off than just hanging out for a day. If you’re going hard at the gym, you owe it to your body to take a day or two off each week.
This Labor Day, if you’re taking a rest day, remember why you’re doing it for your body.
Rest days are as important as your workouts
Listening to your body and giving your muscles the time they need to recover can lead to greater overall fitness than if you were to work out every single day. If you take rest when you need rest, you’ll be able to work harder on the days you’re in the gym. Period.
Rest days also put you in the state of mind that you need to keep going. Just like you need to change the workouts you do every day to stay interested in exercise, you also need to take a break from your routine to keep yourself into it.
Recover on the days when it makes sense for you to recover
Routine is important, but it’s not everything. Some people take a three days on, one day off approach to fitness and others do five on and one off.
You need to do what works for you and listen to your body. If you pushed a little too hard and you can’t sit down on the toilet without saying, “Holy $h*t,” for two days, maybe it’s time to take a break. Because sitting down on the toilet is an important daily activity.
Recovery takes time
When you’re doing anything that is breaking down your muscles like lifting weight or using your bodyweight to fatigue your muscles, your muscles are actually tearing. Science. But these micro-tears in your muscles help your break down to build up, stronger and better than you were before. I repeat: science.
That rebuilding process can take 48-72 hours. That doesn’t mean you can’t lift weights or push yourself 24 hours after you’ve worked out, you just need to let your specific muscles recover that you’ve fatigued.
But stay active on your rest days
“Rest day” doesn’t mean that you should find a recliner to call home for the day. Do something active on your recovery days, whether that means going for a nice walk or doing some restorative yoga, burn some calories. Just keep your exertion level lower than your typical workout days.
What do you do on your days off?