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These days majority of us live fast paced lives, full of due dates, jam packed schedules, kids; you name it. We are constantly on the go and we forget the toll it can begin to take on our mental and physical health.
If you workout consistently, your body needs rest the same way you need a vacation from work.
The key things to be aware of when it comes to resting are:
- How to know when you need rest
- Why rest is so important for recovery and body function
- How much rest you actually need
- What to do on rest days
1. How do I know when I need rest?
There are warning signs our bodies can give off to let us know we need to slow down.
If you begin to notice you aren’t making much progress in the gym, whether it’s aesthetically or strength wise, lack of rest could be the cause.
Feeling weak or easily fatigued while working out can also be a sign that you need to take a break.
2. Why do I need rest?
Our muscles are breaking down and rebuilding constantly, but the most growth occurs while we sleep.
The pituitary gland in our brains produces Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This amino acid (HGH) is released at higher levels while we sleep. So, if you aren’t getting enough sleep/rest your body will have a much more difficult time repairing itself.
Resting in general, not just sleep related, is also important to allow our muscles to begin repairing themselves.
This is why if you’re lifting to build muscle, you don’t work the same muscles/body part multiple days in a row.
The most basic reason why you need to rest is so you don’t get tired during your workout and daily life, or so that your body doesn’t start to shut down.
If you go full force for too long you run the risk of getting sick, which is basically your body forcing you to relax.
3. How much rest is adequate?
Taking rest days off of working out is also something that will differ between people. Personally, I try to take off at least one day a week to just recuperate mentally and physically.
However for someone who is just starting out or someone who is in competition prep, it will be different in the same way their workouts would be different.
So, determining how much rest you need may seem somewhat vague, but when it comes down to it, you know your body and what it needs.
Your body will tell you when you aren’t getting enough of something and as long as you listen to it, you’ll be fine!
4. What should I do on rest days? Stay active!
My whole day feels thrown off to an extent because my blocked off time between work to hit the gym is now empty. By mid day I get so antsy because I just want to DO SOMETHING.
The key to dealing with this issue is to remain active without actually working out. This way your body is still able to rest.
Good things to do on rest days are taking walks, doing yoga, stretching/foam rolling, or any sort of lower key activity.
Conclusion – take some time to chill out
Hopefully you can see how important rest truly is to make improvement. As much as we want to continue to push ourselves and reach new heights, this takes time and can’t be accomplished without taking care of our bodies.
Even though rest may seem counterproductive to reaching our goal weight, running that marathon, or getting to the healthy, fit body we want, it is a vital piece of the process.
So slow down, chill out, cut yourself some slack and take a break. You deserve it!