So, seeing as I’m currently crippled and haven’t trained in over a month *brings out mini violin* and probably won’t be training for a long time yet *brings out bigger violin*, I thought it would be appropriate to write today about resting and the importance of taking rest days.
Before we begin, I’m not referring to resting due to injury here. I wrote a whole post on how to stay in shape when you can’t train back in the summer, where I showed you how to maintain your shape and progress as best you can while taking time off of training.
No, this post is aimed at all of you beautifully fit and able individuals who are training hard, to remind you about those rest days that you should all be taking but, let’s face it… a lot of you aren’t.
What is a rest day?
A rest day is a day you should be taking at least once a week, depending on your training, where you take a break from your regular training and, yep, you guessed it, rest. I used to think that because I slept 7-8 hours a night this counted as sufficient rest, and meant that I didn’t need to take a rest day. Incorrect. If the average person (who doesn’t train as hard as you) is recommended to sleep 7-8 hours per night, do you honestly think that your body doesn’t need extra recovery time, considering the strains you put on it during training?
“BUT I HATE REST DAYS”
I see a lot of people on Instagram going on about how they hate rest days and find them really hard and how they just don’t know what to do with themselves when they are supposed to be resting. I get what you guys are saying, I really do. I know you’re used to the active lifestyle and you find it hard to chill out, I know you’re worried a day off might undo some progress, that you might fall behind and lose the precious gains, that a day off from exercise might affect your weight or strength or performance. I know I know I know because I used to think the same. I get it.
But I also totally don’t get it.
What I find happens a lot, ironically, is that it’s often the ones who are the most experienced that struggle most with the concept of rest. Sound familiar? At the time when I was performing at my best, when I knew the most and had the most experience I’d ever had, was when I was neglecting resting. And it’s so stupid, because when we don’t give our bodies enough time to recover, we compromise its ability to heal and perform to its full potential.
So, why do we neglect rest?
I’m sure you’ve heard before that rest is just as an important part of your training as any other part, but you’ve probably also heard that “sleep is for the weak” and that it’s cool to be part of “Team No-Days Off”.
Resting is not an option. It’s not something reserved for the “weak” or the less-dedicated. It is essential and plays an equal part in the whole process of building muscle, endurance, strength and stamina. This means it must be given equal regard to your training, even more so for those of you who are training at a higher level. I know it’s very easy to let this glamorised 24/7-grind psychology sneak in, to skip sleep and rest days because you think that, as a more advanced “athlete”, you don’t need to rest like the novices.
But you’re wrong. You do.
WHY ARE REST DAYS SO IMPORTANT?
Rest days are important for several reasons, so let’s have a look:
They re-build your muscles
You know the whole “abs are made in the kitchen” thing? Well, the same kind of theory applies here: muscles are made in the bedroom. Wait… what.
What I mean is, when you are lifting weights, this is only the initial stage in the muscle building process. This is where your muscle tissue gets broken down, but you don’t actually build any muscle here. The rebuilding process is carried out while you are resting or sleeping. So insufficient rest = compromised muscle growth. Not good.
they Help to prevent injury:
Every time that you train, you damage your body. This is okay, it’s the whole point. You cause minor damage to your body, it then repairs, and you progress. So do the maths. If you’re not getting sufficient rest, your body can’t recover, and what do you think happens to a body when its recovery process is being repeatedly inhibited? Those minor damages become far more susceptible to becoming much larger, more serious injuries. Also not good.
they Relieve your body from stress:
Stress is not always a conscious thing. You might feel fine mentally, but if you are training 6-7 times a week and not getting sufficient rest, your body is working overtime to recover from the strain you are putting it through and is therefore under a lot of stress. This means that its service to other basic bodily functions is going to be compromised: fighting colds, regenerating cells, properly digesting your food – all of these things can be negatively impacted if you aren’t getting sufficient rest.
they refuel your motivation:
Remember how good it feels when you get back to the gym after a while off? Taking regular rest days will keep that little fire in your belly. Perhaps you’ve been struggling to make progress or hit a certain weight: your rest days can help to re-focus on your goals and plan how to tackle them.
So how do I take a rest day?
Just chill. Stay at home, go for a walk, maybe do some stretching or yoga if you want to move around. If you really cannot keep yourself away from the gym for a day, go for an hour and do some stretching. I sometimes get distracted when I stretch at home and so I take myself to the gym and just do some mobility work: warming up, stretching, yoga holds, some handstand practice etc. “Rest day” doesn’t have to mean sitting on the sofa staring at the ceiling – although that’s totally cool if that’s what you want to do. Just do whatever feels good.
And last but not least
I know you love the gym, but please don’t get so crazy about it that you literally don’t know what to do with yourself on days when you don’t go. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how I love training and going to the gym but how I also have a lot of other things which I love to do, and rest days are a great opportunity to catch up on them and invest time in something different.
And remember honey buns, rest days aren’t just for your body. You shouldn’t only be thinking of “rest” in a physical sense. It’s a mental thing as well. Be sure to set time aside where your mind can rest. There is so much expectation nowadays to be go go go all of the time, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Please make sure that you take your mental rest days, that you find your peace, and that you switch off from the hustle and bustle now and then.
So, get resting honies. I promise it won’t set you back.
Take care of yourselves,
Thank you so much for reading my blog! If you liked it, leave a comment below with your thoughts on rest days and be sure to check out the rest of my site.
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